It was a cold February morning when the alarm went off, “Attention all units, respond on a structure fire…” As a firefighter, I was accustomed to this type of call. When my engine arrived on scene, I was under the command of an acting officer who had never fought a fire. His lack of experience almost got us both killed.
The Fire’s Pretty
While working in the basement of an arson, the entire ceiling became involved in fire. This was the “leaders” first fire and he was so mesmerized by the fire that he stopped working and stood up and kept talking about how pretty the fire was. In a life and death situation, we want our leaders to be experienced and capable of making the right decisions to guide us out of the heat.
Thankfully, we were evacuated by the command staff due to the condition of the structure. Sadly, I had to grab my leader by the coat sleeve and drag him out of the basement. Lacking experience can be fatal.
People follow others for different reasons. Most people follow after a trusting relationship has forged. The path to trust generally requires experience.
Leaders give us something to strive for. They push us, empower us, develop us, and teach us. It is difficult to trust someone who doesn’t have experience along the way. Think about this, it takes upwards of 10 years in the NFL officiating farming system before you ref your first game. One long time official administrator said that if you wrote a 10 chapter book on officiating, the first 9 would be on preparing and the last one would be on the game.
Leaders not only have to build trust, they have to show they are capable through experience. We often lay trust in our clergy, but if we went to them for guidance on marriage, a young single pastor may not be effective for mentoring. Trust requires experience.
The Other Type of Experience
Building trust requires time. As a new leader, you must trust that your team will require experience with you until they are comfortable enough to bestow their trust in you. Hint, without trust, you can’t function effectively.
Use time to your advantage. Build trust by showing what your capable of. But do it in the trenches, not through your mouth.