“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
— Michael Jordan
The officer’s leadership influence depends upon self-confidence, creativity, flexibility, and the ability to take responsibility for the future. Without these traits today’s fire officer can face an uphill battle leading during emergency and non-emergency situations. Every officer must have the tools to lead and motivate firefighters.
With the majority of an officer’s time composed of non-emergency duties it is important to stock the leadership toolbox. Here are 5 leadership tools that can help today’s fire officer.
Leadership Tool #1 – Take Responsibility
The leader that takes responsibility and preaches the “buck stops with me” is the officer that others want to follow. This is the confident leader that isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right, do what is right and will take the shots for the team. (NOTE: If the team screwed up, they will hear about it later in a private session but they will never be publicly embarrassed.)
It’s difficult to put a positive spin on bad news and the chief officer takes responsibility when he or she is able to provide the rationale and reasoning for the bad news. Again, it’s not about laying blame on another party, rather it is about taking responsibility when leadership challenges occur.
This means that good or bad, the officer will stand up and be accountable for his or her actions and will not push blame onto another person. This demonstrates true character and authentic leadership.
This is the officer firefighters want to follow.
The more bars on the shoulders the more responsibilities are placed upon the officer and this means taking responsibility — PERIOD.
At the end of the day there isn’t a firefighter around that wants to follow a officer that does not take responsibility for his actions. The officer that fails to accept responsibility for poor work performance under his command fails to be a leader.
Taking responsibility is just one tool for the officer, but it is a critical tool. Without this tool, today’s officers will not be as effective as they want to be.
Here is an important note to remember. The fire officer is being watched every day and a big part of the job is being the team cheerleader.
Every officer must remember that without firefighters, the team will not exist. It’s therefore critical that the firefighter feels a part of the team. Who hasn’t felt the pain of a snide remark that was intended to hurt rather than build?
The truth of the matter is that it HURTS and these comments can come from firefighters or officers. This breaks down the individual, which ultimately fractures and breaks down the team. It’s easy to say we are big boys and girls, and off the cuff comments should flow like water off our backs, but negative comments CAN and DO hurt. There is absolutely no room in our stations for comments that are meant to wound an individual.
You NEVER know what another person is going through in his or her life so remember that 90% of people have issues in their lives and the other 10% are really good at hiding them.
Every person on the team is human and needs a SINCERE compliment on a regular basis.
Encourage, encourage, encourage — it’s medicine for the soul.
Being a cheerleader is not overlooking poor performance. Successful officers deal with poor performance and provide encouragement to help firefighters achieve success.
We all have those bad days that can drain the emotional energy from us but there is nothing more encouraging than a sincere compliment when you are having a bad day.
The reality is that we want to work for the organization and report to the individual that truly cares and ENCOURAGES individual and team effort.
In the fire service teamwork and intelligence builds great fire departments.
Photos courtesy of Chief Gord Schreiner.
Check out the complete series here!
5 Leadership Tools For Officer Success