Fire service leadership seems like an elusive secret set of rules that only the select illuminati of the five bugle clan are privileged to. The reality is that is nothing new or hidden in catacombs of a subterranean NFA library. In fact, fire service leadership is so obvious that we sometimes overlook it when it’s right in front of our face. I believe the problem lies in the absence of or less than paramount purpose of our job. Why do we do what we do? I challenge you to poll your department and see how consistent they are in the purpose of their job. We are confused with the overriding hero complex and our tradition of doing those things that most people would not, (considered heroics).
Tradition can be progress’s anchor
For a long time now, I have witnessed our profession do an enormous amount of work in those things that a majority of the public would gladly do, (help those around you). I have also witnessed those very few times that we go to extreme measures to help someone. I am always amazed at what we will be willing to sacrifice to help those in need (real or perceived). I have to ask, not to impugn the act, why are we performing those extreme acts? are we pursuing the hero complex that our tradition bares? We need to profess there is no honor in dying for a vacant building, or to retrieve a dead body.
Knights Templar motto; “Do your duty, come what may.” (Tradition = Anchor) We are smarter than this…..
Fire service leaders are in every level of the organization. Those that generate a following whether by position, knowledge, charisma or intimidation, must be in line with purpose. Chief officers need to be in accord on what the organization’s purpose is and then do the work to reinforce the mission. Fire officers must recognize the informal leaders that are out of sync with the purpose or those that subscribe to something greater, (the calling) like our tradition to be heroes, and guide them back to the mission.
Leadership will emerge with knowledge and passion
Illuminati? Ok, leadership is written as a complex topic that includes the tenants of science and technology and a practice of our human social behaviors and basic human needs. Sounds like a secret, non-relatable cult, but really all we have to do is remember one thing, our purpose. We do not have to be a scientist, or a doctor, just a firefighter who understands why we do what we do and then grow to support this mission. Leadership will emerge when you are knowledgable of the job and your care of those around you (brother and sister firefighters) is on the same level (passion) that you serve up helping the people calling 911.
Daniel Pink, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Drive, quotes Clare Boothe Luce, “what is your sentence” and Pink’s additional question. “was I better today than yesterday?” If there is a secret illuminati, the answers to these questions would be the crown jewels of leadership.