Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leader Bandwidth

Even though a lot of people say it, we have learned first hand that everything rises and falls on your leaders. In terms of mission teams, people typically staff for when things go well. Instead, you need to staff for what might go wrong. If you've got great leaders that can handle possible trauma, can empathize with someone who is hurt or can react quickly and decisively in the light of danger, injury or ambiguity, they will thrive if things go according to plan [which they won't.]

Some real world scenarios:
- You are in country at your hosts home and a normally friendly dog goes berserk and bites one of your team members. Call a doctor, take her to the hospital [but go to the one on the other side of town because it's run by Chinese...] or stitch the wound yourself?

- One of your team has a bit of a stomach bug. He decides to self-medicate with immodium, pepto-bismol and cipro. Meantime, the whole camp you are serving is planning an all day excursion today. Bring him along, with his bucket and lots of hand sanitizer?

- You and your team have just landed in Paris and have twelve hours to take in the sights in the city of lights. But you are sick as a dog and have to run to the bathroom like clockwork every 15 minutes. Make the best of the sights and subject your team to the possible "tour of public bathrooms?"

Luckily for us, all of these scenarios stayed minor. But all of these represent the possibility of a minor accident evolving into something more serious quickly. One other slight detail - what happens when any of those scenarios happen to your point leader?

When staffing mission teams, start with leaders by asking:

:: Can they think quickly and rationally?
:: Who would you trust your children with?
:: Does this person have a lot of life experience that has molded maturity and wisdom in them?
:: Who has lots of experience around accident-prone little children?
:: How does this leader team complement each other in terms of maturity, decision making ability and life experience?

Photo: Me, contemplating the "tour of public bathrooms", in a bathroom on AirFrance. Summer 2006, from Cameroon to France.

No comments:

Post a Comment