Aim or fire? Which one is it? Back in 2010, I served as the President of the Acworth Business Association. As President, you are responsible for the recruitment of board members to serve during your presidency.
Networking is a critical piece to the success of any local business association or chamber of commerce. So, during the process of recruitment I reached out to a friend of mine, Parnick Jennings. He is a master networker. Parnick developed a program called, “Lagniappe.” The word Lagniappe in the Cajun world means, “a little something extra.” The program was basically our organization’s 101 program that acclimated new members.
The event was always held prior to our monthly luncheons, so I would only be able to catch the beginning of his presentation. He would always introduce me and describe our relationship like this, “James is a ready, aim, fire type of person and I am more of a fire, aim, ready person. The concept has always stuck with me.
One thing that is for certain, all of us are uniquely wired. Some us prefer to aim, some prefer to just fire away. Both strategies can hit the target. This week, we are going to explore the pros and cons of each approach. Aim or fire?
Ready, Aim, Fire Pros
He hit the nail on the head in his description of me. I prefer to be planned and prepared. When I tell you I am going to do something, you can take it to the bank. It will be well thought out, detailed, and all angles will be evaluated. A clear target will be in sight before I pull the trigger, or I won’t take the shot. That is my nature.
The value of ready, aim, fire leaders lie in their intentionality and thoroughness. Nothing is done haphazardly, risk is minimized. They are committed to accuracy and have considered all environmental conditions that could potentially impact the shot before it is taken. You can find comfort that when they “fire,” it has a good chance of hitting the target. It will be close to the bullseye.
These leaders are at their best when they adapt and challenge themselves to seek progress over perfection. They get the game plan to about 80%, take the shot, and adjust on the last 20%.
Ready, Aim, Fire Cons
On the flipside of things, it can take me a while to take the shot. I am so focused on getting it right that gears start to grind. It can leave others viewing me as indecisive and undeclared. Environmental conditions are changing by the minute.
The cons of a ready, aim, fire leader can be found in how they are viewed by others when they are under stress. They can appear hesitant, resistance, unwilling to change, and non-demonstrative. Non-demonstrative is when you appear uncaring according to my DISC profile!
Leaders who fall into this category must be self-aware. They need to know their tendency to overly focus on the process. They must draw the bow back and let the arrow loose.
Fire, Aim, Ready Pros
As I have matured as a leader, I have realized the value of these fire, aim, ready team members. They have also made me realize that there are circumstances in which the situation calls for me to react and take a quick shot. Without a lot of planning and preparedness. While it is against my nature, wisdom teaches me that it is necessary to adapt.
The value of a fire, aim, ready leader is that they will be decisive. The result may be good or bad, but either way, you can bet a decision will be made. They are instinctive. The decision will be made based on what they believe to be right in the moment.
These are the people you call upon during a crisis when quick decisions must be made. The situations where there is no time to perfect the plan, you just got to roll. They will give you confidence in the moment that they have a direction they are headed. A direction they always feel to be the right one.
Fire, Aim, Ready Cons
On the flipside here, the leader can leave a wake of destruction in their path! The decision is always made with good intentions. In his book Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman says, “intention does not always determine direction.” We intend for all our decisions to hit the target, but that is not reality.
Quick decisions can be made from a place of emotion as well. That isn’t always good. Emotion can cloud our vision and limit discernment. Most bad decisions we have made were not well calculated. We fired, without aiming. The ammunition was already headed towards the target. We may hit a target, but unfortunately the wrong one.
When the right target is hit, these leader’s heroic acts can land them on other’s Christmas Card lists. Impulsive decisions that miss the mark can get them removed from the list!
End Result: Hitting the Target
In the end, there is no perfect way to get there. The goal of a leader is to get everyone hitting the same target, regardless of their individual approach. That is organizational effectiveness.
Here is the ideal situation, you have a team full of people where half are wanting to aim, and the rest are ready to fire. What happens in this dynamic is that you find that sweet spot. You may not hit the bullseye every time, but you will rarely miss the target in its entirety.
This whole topic makes me think of a sniper in the military. We tend to draw our attention to the one person pulling the trigger, but in most cases, it is a two-person team. You have a spotter that is right beside the sniper. They are canvasing targets, evaluating environmental conditions, gathering intelligence, and can assist in confirming the target has been hit. They serve as the “ready and aim” so the sniper can be “aim and ready.”
Early in my career I sought to surround myself with people that were like me. Those that thought like me, decided like me, and behaved like me. It was great for safety and comfort, but detrimental to personal and professional growth. I now understand and appreciate those fire, aim, ready people in my life.
So, I pose the question again. Aim or fire? You decide.