Monday, December 28, 2009

Shaping the Future "Creating Leaders in our Youth" Part III

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check…for as long as I can remember each generation has obviously gotten smarter, more technologically advanced and has superseded the generation before them.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.

We as leaders must enter the education setting that instruction is to take place with a true teaching attitude not one of just doing the minimum. Leaders need to develop the right attitude about instructing. Attitude starts with evaluating whether you are meeting the mission statement of the fire service, truly developing future leaders and your department through the training that you are performing. Secondly, you must evaluate whether your training is realistic. That is, realistic for your situation, operations, equipment, etc. Higher levels of training are great and have their place, but are we meeting all the basic needs of the future leaders we serve. If not, we need to reevaluate what and how we are teaching / mentoring.

As we begin developing these new leaders we must assure that we are creating level appropriate environments for their mentoring. Nothing can frustrate an individual more than to be placed above there capabilities. (Better known as the Peter Principal). We need to evaluate each person and be brutally honest with them.

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! Be a leader who shapes our future by preparing our youth of today.
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