Shaping the Future “Creating Leaders in our Youth” Part II

12-16-2009 10-56-12 AMIn Doug Cline’s previous posting: Shaping the Future “Creating Leaders in our Youth”  Part I he ended the with a question, “So officers are you shaping the fire service’s future?” Here’s his latest installment.

I hope this prompted fire officers to intra-inspect themselves to see if they were shaping the fire service’s future. I further hope this generated a lot of discussion in your fire house. Asking this question is the first step, however many may not know exactly how to embark on the efforts of shaping our youth to be the next generation of leaders. The next two parts of shaping the Fire Service’s Future will focus on the how component.

So where do we start this development process? We start by not accepting anything less than the best in everything we do. We further need to teach and share with our youth our experiences, even the ones which were not victories. Albert Einstein never viewed any unsuccessful attempt as a failure, rather a win in knowing one more way that didn’t work. These experiences will carry lifelong lessons learned.

I frequently today find myself referring to situations, problems, successes and lessons learned as it relates to similar issues they are facing, as I mentor to younger fire service members. To make it as simple as I know how my father used to call this the “school of hard knocks education of life”. But today many fire officers never take time to share, mentor and teach our future leaders.

As we begin this process we must create an appealing environment. I always remember Chief Dan Jones of the Chapel Hill, North Carolina Fire Department being positive even when the chips didn’t fall the way he wanted them. He could make any black cloud have a silver lining. As I travel and have the opportunity to spend time with department leaders from across the county it never fails that someone is always negative. Nothing is ever positive. They can’t make a win-win situation out of anything. These folks are destined to make the same type of leaders.

We must present helpful teaching. Making the learning dynamics one of which we constantly learn by utilizing the three learning domains. Fire service leaders can really impact teaching with the affective mode of learning as students or future leaders learn basic concepts but can ultimately apply them to situations and affect outcomes. This is true learning and understanding. This concept is usually accomplished by current leaders sharing knowledge, experiences and allowing for mistakes.

Knowledge is Power… Share It!!! This statement is often used by many fire service people including myself. So what does it truly mean? It means that you will freely give of your knowledge and wisdom to others withholding nothing. It never fails, no matter where I may go, I will see a leader of an organization trying to hold information and knowledge from the next generation because they are afraid, intimidated or upset that this up and coming group will end up smarter than they are and as a leader they will lose control. This is one of the most asinine practices I have ever witnessed. Reality check…if you are in a position you are most likely not going to lose that position. If you have people around you who have a diverse knowledge and strong skills, they will only enhance what you are doing. Thus making you look good. This is a no brainer. My challenge to you is share the knowledge you have and place the nonsense in a box and get rid of it!

Chief Doug Cline


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