Being an officer takes effort and this effort is required every day. One of the key ingredients for successful leadership is possessing and maintaining a positive mental attitude.
Leadership Tool #3 – Maintain A Positive Mental Attitude
There is little doubt that officers are faced with a myriad of issues with the majority of these issues being simple and easily solved with little effort. But it can be challenging for the officer to maintain a positive mental attitude when facing complex and challenging issues.
Maintaining a positive mental attitude IS a leadership tool that MUST be possessed by every officer.
Complex issues generally have an emotional and mental impact on the officer and it requires great discipline to maintain a positive mental attitude when engulfed with challenges. Here are three tips to maintain a positive mental attitude.
Tip #1 – You Control How You Feel
You are in control of your actions and thoughts. You must believe in yourself and even though external factors can influence what happens in the fire station, the officer is ultimately responsible for his or her reactions to the situation.
It’s very simple: Reacting positively or negatively is a choice and unless someone is putting a gun to your head, you can make the choice to be positive.
Tip #2 – You Have What It Takes To Lead
Self doubt can creep in and start to erode an officer’s confidence when facing challenges. During these times it is important for the officer to ingrain into his subconscious that he has what it takes to be a great leader.
You impress into the subconscious a repetitive statement several times a day that builds your confidence. For example: “I have the knowledge and confidence to lead during the good times and the bad, and these bad times will pass.”
This simple tool can help an officer maintain leadership confidence, which helps maintain the positive mental attitude.
Tip #3 – Be Grateful
This almost sounds too simple to be true, but it is a fundamental truth for maintaining a positive mental attitude.
A childhood friend of mine recently passed away from lung cancer and he never smoked a day in his life. I was amazed at his positive attitude during his battle with cancer. He truly knew what was important in life and he didn’t get bent out of shape with the tiny issues that so many people think are important.
The wise officer puts issues into perspective and remembers how lucky he or she is to be in the fire service.
One More Reason
Maintaining a positive mental attitude leads to a harmonious working relationship with others, better health, less stress and a desire to encourage and motivate others.
Noted author and fire service leader Rich Gasaway stated, “Stinkin’ thinkin’ leads to a hardening of the attitudes.” I think that says it all.
Leadership Tool #4 – Leadership Authenticity
Leadership authenticity is an inside job and every officer must take responsibility for this personal discovery and have the courage to make the necessary changes to become a better leader. It isn’t easy, but leadership that makes a difference in the station was never meant to be easy.
The effective and successful officer understands who and what he or she stands for. They understand that leadership authenticity is really about the JOURNEY of growing as a person and as a leader. It’s about being honest and exposing personal weaknesses in order to become a BETTER leader.
Why is it necessary to look inside and peel away the layers that can be roadblocks to leadership success?
It’s simple: In order to lead others and to influence others to change, the officer must first change himself. At this very basic level it is leading by example and any officer that is willing to examine himself at a fundamental level is worthy of following.
You CANNOT lead others if you do not know WHO you are.
One final thought here on leadership authenticity.
Some officers may fall into the “fake it until you make it” myth and put on a convincing front, but it will catch up to them and eventually the real person is exposed and it’s generally not a pretty sight.
Be real, be authentic, and be courageous. The officer that leads with authenticity is bound for leadership greatness.
Nelson Mandela had it right when he stated, “There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Photo courtesy of John Gallagher.
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5 Leadership Tools For Officer Success