Being a leader does not mean you have to be the Chief Brunacini in your fire department. In fact trying to be some type of leader you are not can get you into deep trouble. It is important to develop your own styles and type. In the 1980’s Dr. Warren Bennis of the University of California conducted a 5 year research study that look specifically at various styles of effective leaders. It is interesting to see that the results found that although each leader had his or her distinctive leadership style, they all shared four leadership competencies. These have been identified as the keys to successful leadership and Dr. Bennis identified them as: Management of Attention, Management of meaning, Management of Trust, Management of Self.
• Management of Attention – This component is described as the ability to draw others to themselves through an intense focus of attention. Individuals who possess this ability have routinely been able to get others to enroll in their own visions. This has even been to the point that they have adopted the vision as their own. Leaders always keep their intentions in clear evidence.
• Management of Meaning – This is the ability to communicate visions, dreams, and ideas effectively to others. These leaders do more than use words they use their entire person to communicate this message. These leaders know talk is cheap and that actions and appearances are the effective ways to communicate.
• Management of Trust – This is an essential aspect of leadership. This section is about constancy and focus. I am sure you have heard individuals say “you know where they are coming from and what they stand for”. If you want to be a successful leader, your people have to trust you in order to follow you. They want a leader they can count on, even if they disagree with them rather than one they agree with but changes position constantly.
• Management of Self – This is the ability to know one’s own skills and limitations and to get the most out of them. If you don’t have this trait you can do more harm than good. Leaders concentrate on positive goals and do not focus on risks. Here you must reject the idea of failure. Here you need to be able to display total confidence and not worry about mistakes.
These leadership skills can be learned and used as company officers. Leadership, more than anything else, is a role the Company Officer must effectively fill. Often what we are seeing in today’s society is the “GAP”. That GAP is that the company officer is failing to assume this role and it is critical in the operations and safety of today’s fire service.