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


Leading the Generations (Really?)

(reposted from an earlier post, 11/2012)

Over the years I have been a student of many a good presenters who have projected the need to be aware of the motivations and tendencies of the generations.  Somehow I didn’t get it?  I was not seeing the Gen X‘s, and millennials.  Maybe that’s because I see the personality as the stereotype rather than the age bracket. I always thought that it was just my profession (fire department) that normalized the generations with a brotherhood of shared experiences. As I get older, I am becoming more convinced that it doesn’t matter the generation, and it doesn’t matter the shared experiences (no matter how extreme), it only matters the person.

Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks.  Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.  And their grandchildren are once more slaves.  ~D.H. Lawrence, Classical American Literature, 1922

Leadership has not changed for centuries. People respond as a followers based on how they are treated and how they are inspired by others. If I like you I’m likely to follow you. If I believe in your cause I’m likely to follow you. If I like you and believe in your cause, I’m sure to follow you and probably become a following leader.  This has shown to be true with the greatest generation through these young Gen ?’s of today.

There is nothing wrong with today’s teenager that twenty years won’t cure.  ~Author Unknown

Research shows that the millennials are probably going to change jobs several times in their career.  I hear they may be motivated by whats in it for them. So how do you lead the newest stereotyped generation? Learn what MBTI stands for and become proficient at reading the types and how to communicate with them individually. Learn the science of StrengthsFinder assessments from Gallup. This skill will allow you to positively influence people by recognizing their personal strength. These skills will allow you to access the true motivations behind those you want to foster as followers/leaders.    Oh, and this secret to leading a new generation is the same one that worked well with our father and our grand-father and back and back….

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

– Mark Twain

I do believe our social arena is the changing factor influencing our lives more than the expectations of a generation. Technology has definitely changed how we interact and conduct business. As we adapt to the new arena, we adjust our perceptions and expectations of those around us. Some don’t make the leap to the current arena and become mired in the last game. Maybe we can translate this into the newer generations as they tend to adapt quickly to the norms and those mired are obviously old school. As far as leading these whipper snappers goes, find out about them personally.

So, how has leading people based on their “generation status” worked out for you? How could you dig deeper when leading people and teams beyond such an over-generalized way as when they were born? What are you doing to learn about the people who you lead and adjust accordingly? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Parting shot: Read my post on Brass Bugles, “There are no Jerks, just different personalities.”  It’s all relative in leadership.

Art Work Credit: Disney Pixar Studios

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Pikes Place Fish Market-Revisted

Pikes Peak Fish -Revisted. via Pikes Peak Fish -Revisted.


This is a great story about the Seattle-based “Pikes Place Fish Market” and their philosophy of having a good attitude and fun at work with great customer service.  My question this morning is; How can we use this in the fire service today? without compromising compassion and customer service.  Please chime in with your thoughts and/or other ideas to raise our profession to a new level of customer service through great attitudes.


Thanks Tony for the article;

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How to Be


Do you ever wonder how some leaders just “get it”? Like they were born with super-leadership abilities. These are the ones we study and probe to see if the secret ingredient can be duplicated. It never fails, that once we get close enough to really know them, we find out that they’re as normal as everyone else in the world. No super-leadership abilities, just a consistent way of seeing the world around them. A consistent walk that reflects that outlook.

Consistency is related to a great deal of leadership traits; trust, ethics, sincerity. It is also maintaining a theme of what you believe in and how your actions are aligned with what you espouse as  a leader.  The dots have to connect.

A very impressive leader, that I’ve been blessed to know, teaches that the foundation of leading others simply lies in being who you are. Another famous leadership sage, Frances Hesselbein, espouses “leadership is how to be, not how to do”.

Although I recommend that you are well versed in the leadership styles and legacies of all the greats, like Drucker, Collins, and Bennis, you also need to be cognizant of human psychology and current social trends. More than both of these, you need to know who you are, and how you are perceived. The hard part when this is known, is to remember to “be yourself”. Be genuine and embrace what makes you, you.

Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.
Warren G. Bennis

StrengthsFinder 2.0 out of Gallup is a great starting point in this discovery. It will also be a resource to learn about those around you and what makes them tic. If you really live within your strengths, you will be genuine, happy and an influencer of others, as long as you remember to consider the you impact on your potential followers.


How do you think others perceive you?  Think of a close professional relationship and then ask yourself, “would their impression of themselves match your impression of them”?


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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?

Modern Leadership


The profession has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Our society, service delivery , and what the public expects of their leader.  As a leader, how we move organizations has evolved, but I will argue that the way to lead people has not changed and the greatest leaders of our time and into the future will embrace the foundations of leadership which has remained unchanged.

Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth.   J.M. Burns

The definition of leadership is sometimes expressed as organizing a group around an idea or project. The reality is it means moving a group from one place to another that they have not seen or been to yet, and this can be scary stuff…

A recent article, “Heavy Lifting; Leading in Modern Times” (Barbara Kellerman), describes the current trend as a decline in leadership and a shift to followership. The view of leadership is one of a growing followership based leadership. This brand of leadership shifts the power of organizational direction to those who band together as a democratic majority. Social media have fueled the power of the masses by allowing almost instant communications to the masses therefore building consensus for organizational direction. It’s also a safer place to lead from as you are not the lone target.

If leadership isn’t present at the top, it will rise from the ranks

The new direction of followership/leadership will rise up as the organizational leadership if strong, influential leadership isn’t present. Leading this new empowered workforce will take a new set of skill sets that wasn’t so necessary for a leader to survive in the past. Although if you think of the great leaders of the past, they possessed the skills that would have prevailed in today’s new organizational make-up, great communicators.

Great communication skills through mediums that will cover multiple personality preferences will be the tool box must-haves for today’s leaders.

Are you proficient with multiple communications models to communicate to every member of your team? 


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