Monday, April 19, 2010

Leadership Suicide



I here this phrase from fire officers across the United States, “You just can’t find good people today. They just are not like we were at their age.” So what does this mean? Some may say that the future is not to bright looking at the current generation. Other may say what is wrong with us? I say if you asked the officers who trained us, they would say they said the same thing about us, “You just can’t find good people today. They just are not like we were at their age.” So is the fire service really that bad now? I say no, we are not 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 sale 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.
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