Are you the Arsonist and the Fireman? Or Is Your Employee an Arsonist and You Have to Put the Fires Out?


By Ruth King, contributor on the Price of Business show with Kevin Price.

What am I talking about?

Arsonists set fires.

Firemen put them out.

Do you set fires in your business? – no I don’t mean actual fires lit with a match or by lightning. I mean setting projects/changes in direction/actions that cause massive disruption or chaos in your company?

Then, after a period of time you put the fires out and return culture, activities, actions back to “normal.”
Many business owners do. For example, they go to a meeting or trade show, come back with great ideas, and tell everyone, “We are going to do X.”

The employees think, “things will be back to normal in a few weeks.” However, they “go along with the new direction until the owner forgets about it and forgets to monitor the “new.” The new “X” is forgotten and things are back to the way they were.

Fire lit. Fire extinguished.

You go after the latest bright, shiny object: We’re going to start a plumbing division, an electrical division, start selling generators, pools and spas, open a pest control business, etc.” without researching it, finding out how to do it profitable, and just jump in.

Fire started.

Will it make it? Don’t know. But someone, you, has to control the fire and put the flames out.

Are your employees arsonists?

You probably don’t call them by that name. You might call them the bad apple who stirs up trouble, the person who causes drama in the office or in the field.

Or worse, the leader in the field who does NOT have the company’s best interest at heart. (A service manager for a company I worked with years ago was not loyal. I told the owner, who didn’t believe me, that he was in it for himself.

And, the service manager left, with four of the company’s best technicians right before the hot, busy season started!

That was a smoldering fire that burst into flames…and the owner had a hard summer putting the fire out.
“Bad apples” are smoldering fires. Extinguish them, ie get rid of the bad apples, before they burst into flames.

The thing that totally drives me nuts:

I work with a contractor for a year or several years to get the operation working smoothly and profitably. The operation is working well and I have done my job. You get bored and screw it up – you light a fire so that you have something to do. Something to fix. Something to focus on. The fireman to the rescue.

Be careful – don’t set fires just so you have something to do and be the fireman to the rescue.


Ruth King is an internationally acclaimed author and thought leader on the issues facing entrepreneurs today. Learn more about her books and her business activities at

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow by Email