It is great to be back after a fairly lengthy hiatus due to the need to focus on the organization I serve Horry County Fire Rescue. Since coming to Horry County Fire Rescue I have had the opportunity to serve with a very dedicated caring group of people who have to overcome a lot of adversity everyday. These great men and women who serve tirelessly everyday serving the over 300,000 citizens and 15million visitors to the Grand Strand each year. With adversities like understaffing, aging apparatus, increased response volume and no pay increase comes the opportunity for individuals to become very negative and even disgruntled. I am sure this was the case with some but the majority always kept that competing edge of a positive attitude even when they were faced with issues. The Attitude is Everything series will embark on a journey looking into the components of just how Attitude impacts organizations and especially leaders. TheCompanyOfficer.com will explore further the concept of Attitude is Everything especially in servant leadership. Stay tuned to as we embark on a journey at one of the paramount times in the year for the fire service as we come together next week in Indianapolis for the 2013 FDIC Conference. I would like to invite you to come to my program Training Today’s Fire Service Wednesday afternoon April 24, 2013 at 3:30 in the Walbash 2 Room at the convention center. I hope to see you there!
Following an unplanned hiatus; TheCompanyOfficer.com is back, reloaded, revitalized and inspired with innovative visions and refreshing perspectives to support the daily mission of the company and command officer with leadership, knowledge and training for the first-due.
Expect some exciting things to come your way in the weeks and months ahead this fall with some reformatted programs such as Ten Minutes in the Street Scenarios and training aids as well as more interactive resources, downloads and timely postings, links and reference support.
Strive to achieve personal and operational excellence
Regardless of your rank, or time in grade, the length of time in your organization, the size and structure of your department or your daily demands and challenges; leadership, mentoring, contributing, setting the example, being at your very best individually or collectively as part of a team, a company or a department is essential and pivotal-
Think about it…..
- Find your Energy
- Explore your Strengths
- Discover you Passion
- Expand your Perspective
- Understand your Beliefs
- Choose your Attitude
- Align your Behaviors
- Challenge your Perception
- Define your Success
- Live your Value
- State your Mission
- Proclaim your Purpose
LEADING YOUR LIFE WITH MORE PURPOSE AND INTENTION
Take some time to review this exceptional video lecture from TEDxDirigo – and present byDavid McLain. Think about it and apply the insights….
History’s greatest achievements have been made by individuals who excelled only slightly over the masses of other individuals in their respective fields. I am reminded of this when you look at athletes. Most have significant levels of talent. The same is true for the fire service. Most of our personnel have strong predicated skills, abilities and knowledge. So what puts the people excelling in front of the others? Most times that small difference is attitude. Over the years I have had the opportunity to spend time with many different fire departments. The difference was captured by the late Ralph Jackman, Fire Chief in Vergennes, Vermont. In a conversation standing in the apparatus bay of the Vergennes Fire Department he commented that his department did not have the greatest equipment or the fanciest of fire apparatus. In fact he stated the sometimes struggle with the financial end of keeping up. He did quickly point out that that his personnel had passion, desire and the right attitude to serve, which was the critical factor in the success of the organization. He went on to further reiterate the importance of having a positive attitude and what that brings to the formula of success. He stated, “Give me someone who has a good attitude and I can work with them on the other things.”
Certainly aptitude is important to our success in life or the success of an organization. Yet anyone who has been around the fire service for more than a few days knows success or failure is precipitated more by mental attitude than by mere mental capacities. WE have to recognize the true importance of the total equation I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) + A.Q. (Attitude Quotient) = Success or Failure. We have all witnessed individuals whose I.Q. was extremely high and their performance was low and the opposite of low I.Q and high performance. The difference in each of these formulas is the attitude quotient. There is very little difference in people, but that little difference, attitude, makes a big difference.
So how do we become successful organizations excelling in all aspects? First we must have talented personnel in place. We must foster positive attitudes. This fostering is critical and it is not just the responsibility of the Fire Chief. Sure it may begin there but the critical dimension is within the officers, especially company officers. It is paramount that officers maintain a strong -positive attitude. The true leaders and trainers of today’s fire service are the company officers. In many organizations it is glaringly apparent that the company officers don’t possess the correct attitudes. This is a serious issue because they begin to affect the troops as their leadership is mostly what these individuals see. Just like cancer growing, attitudes spreads very quickly whether it is positive or negative.
Some Individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity”. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be. This is an excellent example of a positive attitude.
With all this said…how is your attitude? Before you answer, what would others say if they had this opportunity to answer? I encourage you to take a true examination here. As an officer, I hope my personnel have excellent minds and outstanding attitudes. But if I have to choose an “either-or” situation, without hesitation I would want their A.Q. (attitude) to be high!
Excellent driving skills are not the only factors that could prevent a driver from encountering a possibly fatal accident. Your vehicle must always be in tiptop condition for you to prevent any traffic or driving mishaps. Consider this: an ill-maintained vehicle is an accident waiting to happen. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by making sure your vehicle is in excellent condition.
That being said, let’s discuss how your organization is much like an automobile. Keep in mind that any time you are looking under your vehicle’s hood is always the perfect time to examine the different connections, hoses and belts i.e. personnel, policies, equipment, operating guidelines, etc. to make sure that they are damage, wear and leak-free.
If it’s your first time to check under your organization’s hood, then you’ll probably be unfamiliar with all the numerous parts in and around the organization. However, if you make it a frequent practice to check your organization and make sure that everything works, you’ll be able to identify all the different issues and problems in a jiffy. I suggest you procure a model and use it to evaluate any loose connections or changes that might have occurred in your organization.
One common model that is recognized Fire Service wide is the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International model. Even if you are not looking to become an accredited organization, the self assessment approach has proven to be a sound performance criteria model industry wide.
There are a number of benefits in conducting a self assessment program for your agency. These benefits provide for practical, day-to-day organizational improvements. The hardest component is to be honest in your assessment. If conducted correctly the self-conducted performance evaluation will result in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization provided that the findings are applied to the planning and implementation activities.
Below are some benefits to conducting the self assessment:
• Quality improvement through a continuous self assessment process.
• Providing a detailed evaluation of the services it provides to the community.
• Identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the organization.
• A methodology for building on strong points and addressing deficiencies.
• Providing for department growth for programs, services and member capabilities.
• Fostering pride in an organization, from department members, community leaders and citizens.
Through self assessment, a systematic evaluation can be accomplished to determine what is currently going on in the organization, focusing on whether or not the organization is meeting the goals commensurate with its responsibilities. The assessment process is astounding in the clarity it brings an organization’s leaders and members, not only regarding how the organization currently works but how the various parts are interrelated, its overall state of health and, most importantly, what needs to be done to make improvements. You will target and prioritize top opportunities for change and develop detailed improvement plans.
From playing many years of sports on both winning and loosing teams I have learned talent is not enough to bring about success to the team. I played on teams that had plenty of talent. We didn’t win a lot though. That used to always bother me and I would say we have all the talent in the world why aren’t we winning. It was not until my senior year when I realized that talent was not enough. There was another component that had to be added in. That component was ATTITUDE. It wasn’t the other teams didn’t have attitude. We had plenty of it…but it was the bad kind. It wasn’t until the positive attitude mixed with talent that we started winning.
Over the years the fire service organizations that I have had the opportunity to be involved with showed me that this concept applied to any organization or team. Various attitudes have the potential to impact a team made up of talented members.
Abilities + Attitudes = Results
Good Talent + Rotten Attitudes = Really Bad Team
Good talent + Bad Attitudes = Bad Team
Good Talent + Average Attitude = Average Team
Good talent + Good Attitude = Good team
Great talent + Great Attitude = Great team
If you are looking for a winning team that performs at an outstanding level you need minimally good talent with good attitudes, preferably great attitudes and great talent!
Most people possess good talent it is usually the attitude that either draws them do to the next level with great/positive attitudes or their demise with a rotten attitude. So knowing this, it is important to choose the right attitude.
Have you ever recognized what a difference a single minute in your life can make? Most of us only count down the minutes at the end of the day near quitting time, or when we are waiting for a big event. We never really recognize just how important every minute is because every minute makes a real difference. It is important to remember that for everything there is a season, a time for every activity.
Be Aware of Critical Moments
A critical moment is when you make a decision that has a critical impact on your life. These can include fire ground decisions, career decisions, attitude decisions or decisions on choice of words. These may last only a few minutes, hours or days. Sometimes these decisions may have impacts that last a life time. Most of our decisions are made in a rapid fire mode and are impacted by attitude. It is important to remember that attitudes are choices or decisions we make.
Some Individuals would look at a pile of rubble and say “what a mess” while others will look at the same pile and say “what an opportunity”. At this moment there is a critical decision going on. Which one of these individuals would you want leading the fire department in your community? Most would say the one who has a vision of what that “mess” could be. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in the great State of Vermont training with a group of outstanding emergency services professionals in Addison County. What a breath of fresh air. The amount of energy that was delivered to my starving body was incredible from spending just 48 hours with such great fire service leaders. I was able to reflect upon 50+ years of leadership legacy that was still going strong. That’s right; the fire chief of Vergennes Fire Department the late Ralph Jackman had been the Chief for 50+ years. The best part was he looked at everything in a progressive, proactive philosophy of saying “look at that opportunity”. He understood that every minute made a difference and he understood these critical moments and the importance of a positive attitude even when the chips were down and things were not going as he may have hoped or wanted.
As individuals and leaders of the fire service we must look at opportunities with vision. We must be able to decode the “mess” into “opportunity”. It is paramount that we focus on the concepts that it shouldn’t be this way, but we can make it something else. These are truly hectic times we live in, times that can challenge even strongest of seasoned leaders or firefighters.
Regularly ask yourself three (3) questions…
1. Who and what is influencing me?
There are many individuals and things that can influence you. Subsequently you must ask yourself if these influences are positive or negative. Many times your influences can be strong positive ones while other times they can be the negative ones that you fall victim too. It is important to have strong positive influences in our lives. Remember ever time you choose to follow an influence it is a critical decision and becomes a critical moment in your live. “
“Choose wisely Grasshopper”
2. Where does my mind naturally go?
What are you thinking about when you have free time or where does your mind drift off too frequently. Where your mind goes will have a big influence on critical moments in your life. Make sure that the place your mind is visiting is worth being there!
3. What am I passionate about?
What do I really like in life is another way to say this. Well often times when we get to this level of soul searching we can see that we have things a lot better than others. Often times it is a big reality check that we realize we are not following or doing our passions. It is important to make sure that your passion is not a negatively impacting one as well. Remember everything is influenced by our attitudes; you should always be reminding yourself that your attitude is like a disease and is yours truly worth catching.
Don’t Miss Opportune Moments
We should all be reminded just how brief our time being alive really is. None of us will live forever. We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in often times nothing. Opportune moments don’t have to be big successes, but can be as simple as learning how to do something new. We are all busy and miss the opportunity to celebrate great moments. So with all this rushing around and what we are missing let’s look at what happens when you get in a real hurry or act in haste…
• You feel stressed.
• You lose your joy…simplified your laughter, special times and moments of impact.
• You are less productive.
• You can’t hear or see anyone.
So if you don’t want to miss opportune moments or act in haste you need to slow done. You may ask, “how do I slow down”? Remember it is important that you work hard but take time to rest as well. I recently was out to eat lunch. A group of pastors were at this restaurant as well. I heard one of the pastors state I always remind my congregation that the Devil never rests, another pastor asked since when did we start following his lead. Silence fell on that group for a moment and the first pastor replies wow I never looked at it like that! So what are some helpful hints to get you to slow down?
• Participate – Go and do more with family friends, colleagues.
• Delegate – Don’t put that big Superman “S” symbol on your chest. It usually doesn’t signify you are “Superman” but more like “Stupid man”
• Procrastinate – Stop and think before you act or speak, often times take more than just a second in this case. I see great leaders take days, weeks and months to act on items to keep from making poor decisions.
• Eliminate – Eliminate all the bad influences, attitudes and passions
Please don’t waste your minutes…they may be running low and you don’t even know it!
Today’s leaders are utilizing contemporary leadership styles. The officer needs to know when to use each of these styles for optimum outcomes within the organization. The four (4) contemporary styles include charismatic, transformational, transactional and symbolic.
Charismatic – Inspires follower loyalty and creates an enthusiastic vision that others work to attain.
Transformational – This style depends on the continuous learning, innovation and change within the organization. True transformational leadership is a rare quality.
Transactional – Involves an exchange between the leader and the followers in which the followers perform tasks effectively in exchange for rewards provided by the leader.
Symbolic – Bases theory on a strong organizational culture that holds common values and beliefs. Leadership starts are the top of the organization and extends downward. Subordinates must have full faith and trust in the leadership of the organization.
To be able to lead a fire department or a company it is paramount that the leader of the group be able to match and effectively utilize any of the various leadership styles based upon the individuals they are leading.
This focuses on truly understanding the organizational theories, interpersonal dynamics and group dynamics of the individuals and groups which make up the organization. We will find that more often than not the leader will be utilizing multiple leadership styles on individuals of the group simultaneously to effectively achieve the desired outcomes. Each of these leadership styles will be a result of the presence of the various leadership traits. It is important for the officer to know the strengths and weaknesses of each theory and style along with being capable of applying the principles that are most appropriate in any given situation.
As we quickly approach a time when much of the fire service leadership will be retiring we are destine to face the loss of great leadership in the fire service. This could prove to be a tragedy for our profession or we can make it a positive bench mark. A lot is going to depend upon several generations working closely together. That is the baby boomers and the generation Y and X coming together and realizing that the future belongs to those who prepare.
For years I would see the slogan, “The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepare For It”, posted on the training class room wall of the Henderson North Carolina Fire Department. Chief Danny Wilkerson several times over used to say these same words to many of the young firefighters and officers that walked into that setting. As an instructor and a part-time member of that department it always struck me as an encouragement to continue to push to make a difference. Often times I personally struggled with just what that slogan really was saying. Well, for the first time as I write this article it has become crystal clear. The entire slogan was driven home with just one email blast from a great fire service colleague…Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder with a recent secret list publication. Below is a small component of what was contained in that blast I would like to share:
“Sometimes….not everyone goes home.
In the discussions, one of the young firefighters who was involved with the rescue told me that he now HATED the term “everyone goes home” because, obviously, Kevin did not. It made me start to think. Was the slogan a problem?
It has nothing to do with a slogan. The slogan “Everyone Goes Home” is an attitude…an attitude within a fire department that we’ll do all we can to try and bring all of our firefighters home. It was and still is an attitude. Some of the younger firefighters understandably, just didn’t get it at the time.
-It means that if we don’t drive like idiots, we’ll probably make it home.
-It means if we follow standards such as NFPA 1403, firefighter trainees will probably make it home.
-It means if we put our seat belts on and we collide on the way to a fire, we’ll probably make it home.
-It means if we weigh 100 lbs too much, and we eat more salads, we’ll probably make it home.
-It means that if it is obvious the building will collapse and we stay out of the way, we’ll probably make it home.
-It means if we have the right amount of trained staffing and good bosses at a fire, we’ll probably make it home.
…..and it means that if we drill and train on the stuff we need to do regularly, such as the ability to quickly get water on the fire, we’ll probably make it home.”
The above excerpt really drives me to focus on this blog’s topic “Shaping the Future”. We as leaders today will face the end of our careers. Many of my mentors are at that point currently. However, the leadership lessons they can still share are countless. Thank God, that these folks took an interest in us the leaders of the current fire service when we were youthful firefighters. As I look over the fire service today and especially after spending time at the Congressional Fire Service Institute recently, I can see that our fields are full of ripe future leaders just waiting to be harvested. Consequently we often scorn at the work ethic or analytical decision making that these individuals use as they make critical decisions. I can see clearly where my first mentors Jerry Green and Rick Rice, both officers with the department I began my fire service career with in Mullens, West Virginia, could see a ripening prospect as they made extra efforts to shape the future through shaping me for the future. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyo-Qo2Z-mY
As I see it, the old practice of using our youth to accomplish our work is the base preparation needed to make them tomorrow’s leader. So officer’s are you Shaping the Fire Service’s Future?
Over the years I have sat in many of classroom, participated in countless hands on training drills and evolutions, but I have found that the education that was gained from talking and listening to people who have been in the business for many years has proven to be one of the best learning experiences ever. It has often been said that after the class or sitting at the bar after a conference program is when the real education begins. Some would argue, but I have found it to be true. This is when you can get one-on- one with the instructor or other mentors and hear information “uncensored”. You get to hear the war stories often not told, the times when things didn’t go as planned and even some really good advice.
As I begin to share this information with you, I want you to know what inspired this blog. On January 2, 2010 I was enjoying time with my family when the wonderful world of blackberry communications provided me with a truly saddening email. It was one from a good friend in Vermont informing me that Chief Ralph Jackman had passed away earlier that morning. Now as you scratch your head and wonder where I am going with this, I want to share the significance of the first paragraph with you. Chief Jackman was a unique fire chief. First of all he served the Citizens and firefighters of Vergennes, Vermont and Addison County for over 50 years as fire chief. He was unique in that he continued to keep himself progressing, constantly learn yet ever sharing his experiences and knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn. He was a progressive minded person who served everyone tirelessly. So what has this got to do with training?
Let’s explore many of the items that truly relate to training. Chief Jackman was always searching for knowledge. I was witnessed this as he graced my classroom as an evaluator at the Addison County Fire School several years ago. He stayed an excessive time and seemed to not stop writing, which made me think initially that I had done a poor job and had fallen short of his expectations. Later that night, I was able to spend some quality one-on-one time with him over one of his famous three figure drinks. With an inquiring mind I had to ask how I did. His reply was, “well I took about 3 pages of notes from your class today.” My heart sunk at this point thinking I really messed this one up and here it comes. He continued, “I knew several of my people had gone to another class and I wanted to be able to share what you were talking about with them, it will help them.” At this point I was feeling better about the program and the door opened. We began sharing and learning together in a conversation that lasted throughout the evening. As I boarded the aircraft the next day to return home I was so inspired and excited I could have exploded. What I shared with Chief Jackman was really insignificant as compared to what he taught and shared with me.
Moral to this story is that training is available in a lot of ways. Classroom and hands on are super important. But even more important is learning from each other’s experiences.
• We rarely take time to truly find the lessons in war stories.
• We often time continue to do the same things over and over again expecting different results. We must learn from others experiences and we must share our experiences with others.
• We can’t just write off the old guys, they are a wealth of knowledge waiting to share it with you.
• This nontraditional classroom and dynamic of learning is not traditional by any means. However, it provides a tremendous amount of real world knowledge that just may hold the answers too many of your questions. Chief Ralph Jackman, thank you for the education of a life time. Rest in Peace Brother!
Often in my travels and teaching I am asked by you officers and aspiring officers what it takes to be a good leader or how to become a good leader. I usually respond to that question with a question “What do you think it takes to become a good leader?”
Most respond with the typical answers; knowledgeable, fair, hardworking, etc. Well those are good traits, but let’s dig a little deeper into the meat of leadership and where it begins. Let’s start by replacing leadership confusion with leadership courage. This piece of advice was given to me a long time ago by Chief John R. Leahy Jr. (retired). It took me many years and a few more good mentors to figure out exactly what this truly meant. But I finally got it and it wasn’t all that hard. So let’s focus on replacing leadership confusion with leadership courage.
Don’t’ let your fear confuse the Department’s plan
I can remember a time when my efforts were focused on myself and trying to be the best I could be. Many young officers or aspiring officers get caught up in this drama. They believe that the better they become the better they will be as a leader. There is some truth in this statement, but the meat of being a good officer is much more than having numerous certifications and qualities. You must balance these good components with the courage to believe and support the department and its mission. Finding out the hard way that I could possess many good traits and qualities was not the total answer. In fact it was the smallest portion of the equation. After several years of floundering I finally learned that the most important component in being a leader at any level is being on board and supporting the efforts of the organization. So often I see departments with individuals who are constantly rowing against the Fire Chief, trying to go in other directions rather than the pathway set out by this individual as they try to fulfill the mission. Our fear creates conflict in our lives. The fear is of many things, mostly of change.
The business world is a place of constant change. The fire service is part of the business world whether individuals want to believe it or not. I will guarantee that if you look at any department across the world it is run some what like a business. There are budgets, personnel issues, accounts payable and accounts receivable. If that is not a business I am not real sure what else it could be. So with a fire department being a “business” we should expect constant change. If you look across the United States fire departments are faced with stories of mergers, layoffs and restructuring every day. No matter the scale, when these kinds of changes hit the work place, the literal, situational shifts are often not as difficult for individuals to work through as the psychological transitions that accompany the change. As organizational transitions occur they affect people. These are the individuals who have to embrace a new situation and carry out corresponding change. Leaders find themselves in roles of having to sell these changes.
Don’t let Your Confusion Cause You to Miss the Department’s Goals and the Mission
Fire Departments across the United States have Mission Statements and leader philosophies posted throughout the fire stations. But walk in and ask a firefighter, or even better a fire officer, what their mission statement says and I will bet that they can’t tell you, much less live it. As a leader you must follow suit with the philosophies set forth by the fire chief. Generally these goals and philosophies have an end result in mind. However, with our disciplined attention to detail to focus on the mission, the end results all too often fall short of the goals. As a young leader, have the courage to embrace the leadership philosophies. For a while you are guaranteed to receive ridicule and be called a few choice names. However in the long run you will find that you will become well respected for your consistency and diligence by most.
In my last article Dedication and Commitment “The Guts to Do More” I focused on much of this same material as it pertains to training.
Don’t Let Your Confusion Influence Your Obedience
With any successful department comes a strong vision. This vision is generally set forth by the fire chief. As a young or aspiring officer you must embrace that vision. Think about it: if the leader has no idea what the organization is to become, he or she cannot expect the people to know. No vision causes misalignment and confusion among the members of the organization. Not supporting that vision is just as detrimental to the organization and your leadership ability.
Vision is in direct proportion to accomplishment. The more you envision, the more that can be accomplished. I know by now you are saying this is not how it works! Well, I used to think that as well. I used to see my vision instead of the department’s vision. End result was a catastrophic failure personally and a drag line slowing the organization down.
Have the courage to obey leadership and the mission. These folks are probably not as stupid as you want to believe. There are many factors that play into the formula that you may not be privileged to know or even understand. Again fighting, questioning or rowing against the forward progression can result in a delayed or failed mission.
If you are beginning to see the light as a young or aspiring officer or you are an officer who is trying desperately to mentor a young counterpart, you may be asking your- self , “What do I do now?” Well it is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
1. Refocus on the department and the mission – Begin by putting the department first. As you do this and the success of the department occurs you will see that your success increases proportionally. By being diligently focused on being a team player in leadership you will see that you will develop good qualities and traits. Most of all you will gain respect as you have the whole at heart rather than you as an individual.
2. Release a Gift – Each individual has a gift to give. It is the desire to share that gift that doesn’t always exist. Start thinking of the department more than yourself. By devoting your talents to the department and others you will reap the rewards. Ask not what the department can do for you, but what you can do for the department is a good philosophy to follow.
3. Reach out to everyone – Your ability to help others supports the true mission of the fire service To Protect and Serve.
By taking responsibility for your actions and taking some of the heat off of the team, the department will be able to excel to great level. Most important you are part of the solution, not part of the problem that leads to failure.
Being a company officer means more than just commanding incidents, running calls or being the boss. It means that you have to see the bigger cause of the organization and realize that the department is part of the community. Your efforts daily affect the lives of many. Here is an excellent way to get involved.
Our program gives our City, State and Federal organizations the ability to show they care about their women by wearing her color, PINK! It doesn’t align them with a specific charity or a specific disease but lets all women know that they CARE about their fight against cancer and other health related issues. With our Country being divided in so many different ways and our economy being what it is, this brings us together for the most important people in our community and in our own personal lives.
We do not promote the color pink as just representation in the fight against breast cancer but we wear the color pink for the same reasons we put our baby girls in a pink outfit and into a pink crib, she is precious, she is perfect and it is the universal color for our women. Women and Children first in their battle for life, organizations like the Fire and Police realize this and we wear Pink with honor, we wear it collectively, because we CARE!!!!
Below is just one activity that will be going on all over the United States supporting this worthy cause. Step up and lead…be a company officer that supports and impacts multi-demensionally.
The High Point HOG Chapter / Ladies of Harley Ride for the Pink Heals Tour is coming on September 11, 2010.
Cost: $15.00 for one bike / one rider OR $20.00 for one bike with two riders. If registered by July 31, 2010 each rider will get a PINK event T-Shirt!
Leave Showplace in High Point escorting 5 Pink Fire Trucks to their next destination, most likely the South Carolina State Line.
The ride will be escorted by Law Enforcement.
All riders will sign waivers.
Any questions please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.” Many people have taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you.
1. Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just a firefighter.” Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant or captain.”
2. Everyone Deserves Respect. We often do not respect others and even hang labels on them. Remember the old adage do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
3. Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Fire Department customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When your daily words to an individual will turn from a perfunctory “hello” to a heartfelt greeting, their demeanor and personality will outwardly be changed.
4. Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the fire service is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the station and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?
5. Anyone Can Be a Hero. Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team. Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.
6. Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats. A real hero will be too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.
7. Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the fire service work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for officer or firefighter of the year as you thought you should – don’t let that stop you.
8. Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence. No job is beneath a Leader. If a Medal of Honor winner could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.
9. Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin
Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.”
10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or certification class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet every day will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.
As we embark deep into the millennium and a new decade, changes are sure to occur. The fire service will surely see many of these changes. The place that we need to make changes initially is within ourselves as officers. We must be prepared to meet these new challenges and a new decade with a set of fully charged batteries. The task of change is extremely hard, as we are often times nostalgic. However, we must strive to reach new levels in service through education and training. The first taste of leadership in recruit academies is seen by trainees through the instructors and officers they have. As a young officer one of my mentors told me this little secret, “A true instructor is a leader of the future”. With that I had to ask how? My answer was, “you shape the minds and careers of many firefighters through education. By doing so you are leading the fire service of tomorrow.” It was not until much later that I could truly understood what this great leader was talking about. I have found it to be true that you lead tomorrow’s firefighters through instruction today.
An officer / instructor profile needs to encompass several areas to be able to meet these challenges and changes that we will face. First, we must find new motivation. Motivation that exceeds all levels previous. We must bring newfound excitement to the instructional programs we deliver. The excitement level that comes with the officer carries over and motivates the student to the same level or higher. We as instructors must enter the education setting that instruction is to take place with a true teaching attitude not one of just doing the minimum. Officers need to develop the right attitude about instructing. Attitude starts with evaluating whether you are meeting the mission statement of the fire service and your department through the training that you are performing. Secondly, you must evaluate whether your training is realistic. That is, realistic for your operations and equipment. Higher levels of training are great and have their place, but are we meeting the needs of the departments we serve. If not, we need to reevaluate what and how we are teaching. We must find new ways to deliver quality training in a society where budgets are being slashed to below acceptable levels. This will require you as the officer / instructor to be innovative if you are faced with a substandard budget. There are many resources that are available to a department and an officer if we just look for and cease the opportunities that are available. One opportunity that is not utilized by the fire service to the level that it could be is the National Fire Academy and the Learning Resource Center located there. The quality of education provided by the Fire Academy provides for one of the ultimate learning experiences you could encounter. Finally is your training current or out dated. I know that this is a big argument in every department. “We have done it this way for 30 years”, that is well and good. However, is there a more current, more progressive or better way?
The officer / instructor for this millennium is a three-part process that starts with the instructor as I have shown above. It does have two other key components, such as leaders and students. Leaders must take a more proactive role rather than the typical reactive role. Change is easier when affected from the top down rather than from the bottom up. As a leader of a department you must ask yourself several questions; Are we prepared for the changes of tomorrow? Are we currently meeting our training needs? Are we ready for what we are destined to face in the near future? Are we, as a group, willing to change to meet these new demands?
These are some key questions that not only leaders must ask of themselves, but each department and its members must also do this. Remember talk is cheap and your actions will speak louder than words. These actions may be the spark that starts or revitalizes motivation in the organization.
The students also play an interracial part in the training process. A student today must recognize that changes are imminent and concur. This starts with the willingness of a student to be motivated to new levels by their officers, their peers and by themselves. Motivation is the starting point for change. This motivation should bring new or revived energy. This new energy should be focused towards learning new ideas, concepts and techniques. This will require the student to explore new realms of the fire service and the knowledge that is directly associated. Exploration often times means traveling to different areas of the state, region or nation to find new information and ideas. Large symposiums and conferences like FDIC,
FIREHOUSE Expo and others are excellent examples of this travel where you can meet and learn from individuals worldwide. Travel can occur and you never leave the station. When fire journals arrive, do more than just look at the pictures. The availability of information on the World Wide Web is only a simple search away. Read and study how different departments handle responses and situations. Read the articles for more than just leisure reading. Once in these setting you must be willing as a student to explore new ideas. We often forget as instructors that we are also students. Each time you teach, you should be learning. All of these concepts are important, but without discipline to recognize and participate, change will not occur.
As officer / instructors you have an obligation to provide quality education. The future of the fire service depends on the utilization of our talents as educators. You see, the attributes of good instructors coincide very closely with good leaders. Company officers are the true leaders of the fire service.
Knowledge is power, share it!
Leadership and Cultural Safety go hand-in-hand. As does our desire to succeed and progress. There are various perspectives, strategies and of course beliefs and attitudes. Aligning them certainly is the challenge for today’s command and company officer. My good friend Brian O’Malley a motivational speaker, provided a three-sixty (360) review to a recent strategic alignment meeting I participated in.
As I looked at the words and phrased statements, it became obvious that these thirty-six words aligned compactly within twelve lines provide a distinct three hundred and sixty degree perspective on much of what each of us should strive for; each day, on each shift, and at every call. These are demanding times that accellerate a variety of emotions, uncertaintly and at times of personal discovery. Regardless of your rank or time in grade, the length of time in your organization, the size and structure of your department or the level of your daily demands and challenges; leadership, mentoring, contributing, setting the example, being at your very best individually or collectively as part of a team, a company or a department is essential and pivotal-Think about it…..
Find your Energy
Explore your Strengths
Discover you Passion
Expand your Perspective
Understand your Beliefs
Choose your Attitude
Align your Behaviors
Challenge your Perception
Define your Success
Live your Value
State your Mission
Proclaim your Purpose
Take the time to look at this video HERE, take the time to Celebrate What’s Right…..
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.
I hear this phrase from fire officers across the United States, “You just can’t find good people today. They just aren’t like we were at their age.” So what does this mean? Some may say that the future isn’t too bright looking at the current generation. Others may say, “What is wrong with us?” I say if you asked the officers who trained us, they said the same thing about us, “You just can’t find good people today. They just aren’t like we were at their age.” So is the fire service really that bad now? I say no, we aren’t that bad but we could always improve what we are doing and I believe succession training is the key. Teach others from our mistakes and victories.
A successful leader must have a well defined vision of where the organization is going. Often times you can measure vision as it is in direct proportion to accomplishment. As we begin to develop the future generation of fire service personnel we must navigate that road with vision. Vision is like a navigational system guiding you precisely from point “A” to point “B”. With vision we must be focused on the mission as well. Like vision, the mission gives a successful leader a sense of direction and purpose. This same mission gives personnel and future leaders the same sense of direction and purpose.
As we navigate our pathways of development we must learn not to utilize a “shoot from the hip” philosophy. We must learn to set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym standing for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time dimension. As we set goals we must set specific or well defined goals that can be measured. Measured is usually specific to statistics or set time tables. The realism is often the area leaders fail in. They either set the goals out of reach and they fail or set them too easy and never excel. Setting realistic goals means to set them where you have to stretch yourself but not fail in doing so. Without a time frame, the goal becomes merely a wish or dream.
As officers and leaders we are faced with developing the future leaders of the fire service. I often look around and see officers not setting a very good example in all aspects of the fire service. If you picture an individual you consider to be a great leader, like Dennis Compton, I can promise you will find one trait that they will exhibit…That is they will show integrity in all that they do! To have integrity you must have strong values like innovation, honesty, a positive attitude, team work, mercy and many more. But most of all you must take responsibility for your actions. I far too often see officer’s sell their subordinates down the road for their mistake.
Here is a responsibility check:
Do you get defensive when you are criticized?
Do you learn from your mistakes and start fresh?
Are you comfortable in admitting when you made a mistake?
Do you try to hide your weaknesses?
How do you feel when you make a mistake?
How does it feel when others know you made a mistake?
Depending on how you answer these questions will determine if you are willing to take responsibility for your own and others actions.
So we are at a point in the article where I ask myself: “Do I take you down the road to bashing you or do I take the high road?” Well if I want to commit leadership suicide I begin blaming you. But I want to take the high road here. So what do we do to correct the old saying, “You just can’t find good people today. They just aren’t like we were at their age.” You begin by promoting education and innovation. The more training and education the next generation can receive the better they will be. The problem is some of us old guys are just not the most willing to give up that information. We are afraid that we may not be the leader anymore. I got news for everyone out there, sooner or later you won’t be the leader, and so does it really matter? Besides if we utilize the knowledge the younger generation has and add it to our already gained knowledge, I don’t think we will get over run before our time.
Allow for mistakes. This is a hard one. But look at it this way, when they make mistakes they have learned one more way that doesn’t work, they didn’t fail. If you allow for mistakes I will promise you they will soar on wings like eagles.
Be adaptable and proactive to change. A lot of the problem with the younger generation is not them – it is us! Ouch that hurt didn’t it. That’s correct I just bashed us. We are so set in our ways that many of us can’t change or adapt to something new. I had a firefighter tell me that he had been on the job for 25 years and a few little changes had him so confused that he did know what to do. This is a prime example of the inability to be adaptable to change. These changes put this firefighter outside of their comfort zone and he was not willing to adapt. Change is inevitable. You better get ready because it is going to happen whether you are ready or not.
Listen to understand. As leaders we commit suicide by not actively listening. Wise people will listen and learn more. By not listening we are not truly communicating. So as a leader how many times have we not truly listened to our youth and we just blame it on their ethics. Maybe if we would slow up and open our ears we may hear what the true message is: “Help me and teach me in a way I can understand.” Ouch, hit another nerve. That’s correct we have to adapt to their way of learning and educate them so we can create a bright future. The way we learned is not how they learn today. We didn’t wear breathing apparatus in the 70’s either, but does that make it correct today?
Link recognition and rewards to their performance. By making these visible we enhance their egos and everyone has an ego to some degree. I was taught that you need to clearly define the goals and expectations, make it sincere, meaningful and unique and accept nothing less. As these goals and expectations are met recognize them and give a reward. Think about it, what motivates you?
Finally promote win-win thinking. This will set the stage for many things to come. So how many toes are hurting right now? Well I know one person who just got their toes stepped on…ME!
It is far too easy to fall into the old mind set and forget about being proactive, setting SMART goals or even giving the true effort to develop our future. As an officer and a leader we are charged with many duties, the failure to focus on our future is a critical failure that has catastrophic consequences. We must step up to the plate. As the leaders of the fire service, we must have to have the Guts to Do More. We must set a precedent for the future. We begin that precedent with the instructor in the mirror. We have an obligation of dedication and commitment to educating the future of the fire service.
Knowledge is Power… Share It !!! This statement is often used by many 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, I will see a leader of an organization trying to hold information and knowledge from the next generation because they are afraid that this up and coming group will end up smarter than they are and as a leader they will loose control.
Well take a reality check…for as long as I can remember each generation has obviously gotten smarter, more technologically advanced and has superceded the generation before them. So what makes that so bad. I thought we were trying to make things better? I am sure this will hurt a few toes but the truth is the truth. The folks doing the withholding are the dumb ones. If you combine knowledge everyone gets better even yourself! (Ouch!!)
That’s right I took a jab at a few of you out there, but if we want to progress and if we are going to make progress we have to share our knowledge both good and bad with our youthful leaders to be. There future depends on it. In sharing this knowledge we have to be dynamic instructors creating engaging learning environments. A leader / instructor profile needs to encompass several areas to be able to meet these challenges and changes that we will face. First, we must find new motivation. Motivation that exceeds all levels previous. We must bring newfound excitement to the leadership programs we deliver. The excitement level that comes with the leader carries over and motivates the student to the same level or higher.
I think it can be best said that for use to reach the attitude of “Everyone Goes Home” we must do the right things. Leadership plays the most significant role in this. As future leaders begin to develop they need to address the issues, learn from our mistakes, make educated and calculated risk / benefit analysis assessments and be brutally honest when necessary.
I see this where as I had a discussion with a fellow collegue on seat belt laws as to whether or not firefighters are exempt. Point is who cares if we are exempt or not!!! We know that some things just don’t add up to being good risk benefit analysis decisions. We have witnessed multiple firefighter injuries and deaths from ejections from motor vehicle crashes over the past few years. If they were belted they probably would not have been ejected and would have maybe survived. It has nothing to do with a slogan. The slogan “Everyone Goes Home” is an attitude…an attitude within a fire department and a leader that boldly says we will do all we can to try and bring all of our firefighters home. It should be everyone’s attitude.
I challenge the young and old alike, if you are a current leader in the fire service…stand up get a backbone, polish your bugles, take a stance and be a true leader. If you are the youth of today, I challenge you to develop yourselves and be the leaders of tomorrow. I personally believe Chief Dennis Compton states it the best, “Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way”. Fellow fire service brothers and sisters, tomorrow hinges on what you do today. THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO PREPARE FOR IT!
Everyone has idealisms, dreams, goals, aspirations, ideas and purpose. Everything is a Possibility, IF you strive to persevere and keep at it. Whatever the cause, need or reasons; regardless of the roadblocks, disappointment, disenchantment, frustration or regret-Dream it Anyways, Do it Anyways… You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach, and you know it might not ever come your way- dream it anyway; the possibilities before you are endless…
You CAN spend your whole life buildin’
Something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You CAN chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway
God is great but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway
This worlds gone crazy
And it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all YOUR heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
love em anyway
Do It Anyway Lyrics Artist: Martina McBride
In 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.
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!