Many an article and seminar have been developed around “leadership”. Most opinions are that leadership is developed and nurtured through education, experience and learning from mistakes.
This article is going to deal with what I believe is the most important, and often missing aspect of leadership “principles”.
One develops through their time on this earth by learning. Good lessons, bad lessons, lessons that hurt, it is all a learning process and normally shapes who we become as functioning members of society. Through the process most (not all) establish a core set of values and ideas that shape the drive and life experiences.
For those that have taken any leadership or psychology classes you learned of a thing called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. Those needs ride from basic life necessities to a thing called “self-actualization”. Basic needs being food, shelter to the all-important achievement of where one wants to be in life and is therefore self-actualized.
We won’t spend time talking about the basic needs, but we will talk about the self-actualization we should strive to achieve.
Self-actualization is the goal of one’s self to be as good as one can become. Key part of this is good not great! To explain this better, let’s just say I reached my self-actualization in the fire service as a truck driver! Oh, I served as an Assistant Chief in a combination department, but I did my best work on the truck.
It was what I felt I did the best and where I served the community and fire service the best. I developed that opinion by having a set of principles I lived and worked under in the fire service. So in my humble opinion, rank has little to do with leadership. What makes a good leader is the one who can learn, adjust, react and re-evaluate. All of these qualities are based on one’s principles.
In order for you to be that “leader” folks want to be around, you must establish a core set of principles that guide your decisions, and set the tone for those you influence. Principled leadership is just that, traceable to a set of important values you establish.
They are not things someone else tells you they should be! They need to be based on your (emphasis on your) development. Most of us that have been in this business for a while know those people that we emulate and those we really have little respect for.
In my case, some of those I emulated were “officers”.
In fact most were not!
I suggest you find that person that always is out in front, whether it is on the fire ground, in training, or the one that keeps the shift or crew together. That is the person who is most likely the one to learn and emulate. We all know them.
In part 2 I will discuss my core principles. Hopefully they will help you set your principles and then you can become that “Leader”. Until next time, be safe, stay low and learn!
Part 1 of 2