LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
An official emergency is “a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment.” In contrast, I heard a father consoling his moping son following three steps behind. The young boy was so distraught, he could hardly see over his out-turned bottom lip. “Listen, Son, a lost Lego is NOT an emergency.” I guess the intensity of the perceived trauma is a matter of perspective. I wanted to cut the kid some slack as I’ve been known to panic when I can’t find my lip gloss! But seriously, the way in which we invite and address urgent concerns refines our team culture and potentially protects the survival of our entire organization.
The phrase “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass” is meant to be a stern command and is intended solely to summon authorities for help. Of course, office pranksters hang glass frames with the same words etched in glass, but instead of the white T-shaped pull bar, you’ll find a candy bar or twenty-dollar bill. On a real fire alarm, the T-bar is pulled down, completing an electric circuit connected to the alarm panel, which then notifies emergency responders. The bar is typically locked in place and can only be reset by a key held by appropriate personnel. In this example, we the leaders, are the appropriate personnel. We are to address serious concerns, potential emergencies, and then determine if the threat is adverted. What do we need to consider?
- False Alarms: Sonitrol Security reports that of the 36 million security alarm activations in the last decade, roughly 96% were false accounting for about $1.7 billion in unnecessary responses by police. Ok, false alarms happen, but we still need to provide an environment where all team members feel comfortable raising concerns. Teams focused on safety let even multibillion-dollar production lines grind to a halt, just to consider a safety concern. Smart leaders empower everyone, regardless of pay grade!
- First Aid: The Red Cross recommends that “before administering care to an ill or injured person, check the scene and the person. Size up the scene and form an initial impression.” Preconceived notions or standby solutions are NOT recommended. Engaging in discovery, even when we think we know the answer is most wise. Smart leaders are good detectives!
- Whistle Blowing: Let’s face it, we are all rooting for the whistle blower, unless we are the one’s getting caught! The phase “snitches get stiches” is a rhyme repeated by wrongdoers trying to conceal their identity and/or activity. The National Whistleblower Center details the “protection [that] is now recognized as part of international law.” Smart leaders protect those taking risks to expose the unexpected truth!
Even if we are indirectly responsible, as leaders, we are ultimately responsible for creating an environment where everyone can make a distress call. We must always evaluate the situation before making snap decisions and protect those bringing bad news about undesired activities. Thinking of the boy and his lost Lego, I’m reminded that the level of severity can be a matter of perspective, but the level of trust a team member has in a leader should not.
In honor of survivors, first and second responders,
and those making our world a safer place.
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Emergencies. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting all Christians, everywhere, for the purpose of Community, Accountability, Transformation, and Leadership. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.