Professional?

 

TFCA 2012

Do you consider yourself a professional? Most trades that require a specific knowledge or training do. From construction, manufacturing, sales and service, all will be acknowledged a professional at some point and time.

When I studied the origins of the term “professional”, it took me through history.  In the pre-industrial world, a professional was an elite highly educated person that was established as a pro by a long study capped by a societal recognition, (Doctor, Layer, etc.).  Today, almost every trade has a board that recognizes their specialty as a profession.

So where do firefighters fall into the “professional” strata? Training, and credentialing and more than anything else, public acceptance. Although many States do not regulate firefighter credentials, it is up to you as an individual to embrace the profession as one that demands high standards in training and performance. Being “highly trained” will set you apart, even within the fire service. One of the biggest pieces of the professional status is your reputation in the public eye.  Your customers aren’t as impressed with your credentials as they are with how you treat them. How you make someone feel will be remembered long after the incident is over.

I have heard many a salty dog tell me that their years of service has given them a PhD of the job.  I have also heard many highly papered officers embarrass me with their lack of operational knowledge. Somewhere in between the “profession” must regulate itself with accountability of our performance to stay inline with our mission.

Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.  Steven Pressfield –

A professional is someone who is trained in an expertise that separates them from others not trained. There are many variations of the definition, I like Merriam Webster’s take;
(1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or
ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a
courteous, conscientious, and generally
businesslike manner in the workplace.
If you think you are a professional because you get “paid” for your work, you may be missing the boat…. Set yourself apart from others by being a professional at all times.

Parting shot; What happen to firefighters being skilled tradesmen?  Have we lost our way somewhere along the line chasing a professional status?  what say you?

 

photo credit: Texas Fire Chief’s Academy 2012

Who’s driving?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” -Dr. Seuss

Are you a follower or a leader? A watcher or a performer? Who did you influence today?  I believe we all fall into both titles to varying degrees every day, but when you reflect on your day, which one will you be remembered for?

Good People make Good Leaders

Leading people means that they give you something very valuable, their trust in you to take them somewhere. Why would you give your trust to a “bad” person?  Why would you follow someone who you didn’t believe cared for you?  Well, there are a couple of reasons I can think of; 1. you need a paycheck, 2. you are stuck and are just waiting to jump ship to another job.  Both scenarios are of organizations that are most likely not productive or unhealthy.  With this bit of knowledge of followership, don’t we have the secrets to being a great leader? Be Good!!!

Your legacy in an organization starts on day one and builds to be your leadership potential.  If your potential is low, take an objective look back over your legacy in the eyes of your potential followers.  Would you admit that you may not be well liked, but think that doesn’t matter because you know the job better that others?

Followers will only follow rules to their stated limits. Followers that are inspired by a leader will always exceed expectations.  (Me and some old Himalayan Shaman)

I am proposing a new promotional process for our mid-level leadership. I want to interview and investigate past performance rather than a written test and assessment center evaluation. This has caused some consternation, and I understand why. There is a high probability that the process could end up as a “good ol boy” system. There is also a possibility I can change the culture to one that understands that a legacy is worth more in leadership than a good test day.  For the proposed process to work, I would have to build validation into our everyday culture that takes away the fears that our mid-level leaders can’t perform the job.  I’m hoping I have them exceeding expectations on a regular basis.

Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast, (Peter Drucker, and then everyone else in the business world)

If the organization can grasp the idea of a culture that fosters growth in each other as much as the organization as a whole, leadership will be abundant. Good leaders emerge from the good follower that passes it on to those around him. You don’t have to be an anointed leader to care for those around you. Caring for and fostering the team is where the informal leaders garner a following. It then becomes a small step to the position of leader because people are used to following you already.

Aways be paying it forward.

To Lead, you must first Follow..

We all follow someone, our God, our families even movie stars, sports figures and sometimes politicians. Well maybe not politicians, but we do find inspiration in others. Sometimes we don’t realize the influence our bosses have over us until years later. The flip side is that we also have people around us that we are influencing as well. You may not even know the impact you have on someone watching you.

“If you believe lack of authority prevents you from leading effectively, it is time to rethink your understanding of leadership.”

— Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson
Leading From the Second Chair

Being a good follower and developing your ability and knowledge of your craft/role/position allows you to become respected as someone who knows their business. This is the first step in leadership, knowledge. People are impressed with those who hold knowledge and will seek to emulate them or compete with them.  Either way, there is direct influence happening based on your presence of apparent knowledge.

The exposures you have to those who guide your path each day will culminate over time.  This culmination will build some inherent traits, some good some bad, that  shape your influence actions.  Even if you can’t stand your boss, he will cast influence. After behaving in a manner for some time, a comfort level will develop.  This behavior may not be your conscious decision, but anytime a person is stressed or threatened, there is a propensity to revert to a known, familiar action. This action really defines a large area of leadership. So what is the answer?  Walk the walk…The more you act dependable, accountable, and compassionate the more it will become you.

“Learning the secrets and skill of great No.2s remains the surest path to becoming No. 1.”

— David Heenan and Warren Bennis

I remember as a young officer feeling like time was standing still on my ladder climb. I just knew I could do it better than the guy above me. The grind of waiting and working was really a seasoning of sorts. I learned all the nuances of the day-to-day and some of those “rare” instances take time to experience. I spent seven years at a rank before promoting and as I look back now and I can see those years were necessary and priceless. I was good at my position, but learned to be better at following the position above me. It took many years for me to actually realize these benefits. When you must mentor those up and comers, the time starts to take on new meaning.

“Followers are more important to leaders than leaders are to followers.”

You must be very clear in your thoughts of who you want to be, and then work on presenting this image with your actions. Credentials and knowledge are the tickets to play, actually gaining membership into the realm of leadership will be gained with your actions, legacy and those most valuable of all, your followers.  Be a good follower to set the example and you’ll be the leader you aspire to be.

Parting Shot: Leadership is a gift from those who follow…..

Please click the link below and watch the ultimate followership youtube video…..

Followership instructional video…