Poor Leadership Happens
At some point in every firefighter’s career, we are going to have to deal with poor leadership. This reality can be a struggle for us. I can recall being very frustrated with some leaders I have worked for. However, there are some things we can do that will allow us to thrive, even in times of poor leadership.
We have to make a conscious effort to deal with poor leadership in a positive manner. I have seen too many firefighters lose their passion for the profession because they did not understand how to deal with poor leadership.
Here are three things we can do to deal with this situation.
#1 – Focus On What We Can Influence
Steven R. Covey, a popular author, teaches about our circle of influence. This circle looks like a bull’s eye and represents what we are concerned with and what we can actually influence. Focusing on what we can influence is the first thing to work on when dealing with poor leadership.
While we may be concerned with the leader’s performance, it is difficult to influence them. However, we can influence our own behavior and attitude. Staying positive and motivated while focusing on the things we can change is vital.
#2 – Find a Mentor
The officer in your station is not the only source of mentoring in the fire service. This is particularly true in the modern age of electronic communication. Seeking out a mentor is vital to maintaining our motivation and keeping us on track for success. Find someone who is willing to teach and loves the profession. These individuals make great mentors.
Finding a mentor is as easy as finding someone at a different station in your department, or looking for leaders in other departments. This person does not have to be a fire officer. There are some great leaders who are still riding the back seat. All we have to do is look around.
You can even email one of the leaders here at Firefighter Toolbox.
#3 – Stay Motivated
At times, staying motivated can be tough. However, there are a few things we can do to stay motivated in the profession.
Constant training is certain to keep us motivated. Even if our leadership is not willing to train, or does not do a good job with training, they cannot fault us for going outside and throwing a ladder against the fire station. Seeking out new skills and practicing them keeps us hungry.
Focus on being your best. We are in the business of customer service, and providing the best service we can to our customers keeps us motivated. This is where you see the fruits of your training labor pay off.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, stay positive. Having a positive attitude will go a long way in anything life throws at you.
Poor leadership does not have to break us down. Focusing on the things we can influence, finding mentors, and staying motivated allow us to weather the storm.
I encourage everyone reading this to stay hungry and keep doing your best. And, if you are looking for a mentor, I would love to hear from you!
Photo courtesy of Bret Dzadik