Perhaps you've met or worked with a Super-manager who's respected by one and all for being the go-to guy when things get rough. You know that things are hitting the fan when he breaks down a door and enters the room. When he flies in and saves the day everyone breathes a sigh of relief and feels an enormous debt of gratitude. Compliments abound and buoyed by our affection, off he goes until he's needed again.
What he doesn't seem to know is that if he applied himself to the mundane task of a problem free workplace, there'd be no need for his heroics at all. A focused presence and an attitude of anticipation, not reaction, would make it difficult for the supervillains who threaten productivity and outstanding customer service to gain a foothold. Boredom, staff chatting, neglected customers, over and under scheduling, lack of inventory, lack of tools to do the job would all but disappear. But what's the point of owning tights and a cape, if not to don them from time to time? The trouble is, things have to be well on their way to hell (in or out of a hand basket) by the time his preferred management style is implemented.
This "putting out the fires" stuff makes for great movies and comic books, and for some legendary stories, but it's a lousy leadership model. It is reported that with an excellent and diligent system of routine traffic and by-law enforcement the incidences of more violent crime and costly crime are reduced; the need for a Superman in a well governed town is rare*. Carrying the metaphor, the same is true of our businesses.
Following policy and procedure, holding people (and one's self) accountable in a well managed organization is far more work and takes more fortitude than swooping in when all hell breaks loose, but infinitely worth it to the professional manager.
Besides, as exciting as it is for us when things go crazy, as good the celebrations afterwards when we save the day, our customers like it way better when we've got things are under control.
"Well I ain't no Superman, if that's what you demand then set me free" Set Me Free - Utopia
Cool tune - listen to it here: Set Me Free - Utopia
* Source: http://www.ou.edu/oupd/traffe.htm