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What do you feel is the most significant roadblock to building a team, any team. From an engine company, station crew or battalion to a special operations team such as hazardous materials or technical rescue

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Debra and Ed,

Debra, I would go one step further and say that without a leader who "walks the walk" a team will not exist. Ed, I agree with you, but also would advise you to be careful.

To me if you "walk the walk" as Debra says you ARE willing to get "down and dirty" as Ed eludes to. Delegation is something that needs to happen when the time calls for it. But being careful not to start in one direction while something else is being started by Command in another area. This leads to confusion, a lack of manpower, and possibly a dangerous situation for everyone. Communications can be sketchy at best at times creating difficulties but if you must, send someone on foot to convey your intentions or needs. Just make sure you know what is happening around you before going for it.

Be Safe,

John

Ed Laugesen said:
I feel that most are right on as far as the fact that a team has to have a good leader, along with that there needs to be impowerment. The authority to make decisions with the scope of their work based on what needs to be done at a given time. I think there are a lot of "Teams" out there that work together to complete a common goal, however a lot of the time things do not have the proper outcome based simply on "I can't get hold of so-n-so, so we can't do it. The other part is if you want to be a good leader then you have to lead by example, never assign a task to a subordinate that you would not do. (There will always be exceptions) get down-n-dirty with the guys & gals you lead and they will follow you anywhere. Most of all support your team members, stand up for them and support them, in the same light let them know that unacccetable behaviour is out. As has been said before "A good team takes a long time to develope and can be destroyed by one untoward act"
John, I was not talking about the fire ground, It goes without saying that there can only be one commander on a scene. My comment was aimed at the every day little things that come up where a person needs to be able to think and act within guidelines to use initiative without being punished unless it was just plain wrong, and there is where the good leader steps in and corrects the problem so it won't happen again. I picked up the attached card from a class at FDIC in 2004 fro the Navato Fire District in California that says it all

John Power said:
Debra and Ed,

Debra, I would go one step further and say that without a leader who "walks the walk" a team will not exist. Ed, I agree with you, but also would advise you to be careful.

To me if you "walk the walk" as Debra says you ARE willing to get "down and dirty" as Ed eludes to. Delegation is something that needs to happen when the time calls for it. But being careful not to start in one direction while something else is being started by Command in another area. This leads to confusion, a lack of manpower, and possibly a dangerous situation for everyone. Communications can be sketchy at best at times creating difficulties but if you must, send someone on foot to convey your intentions or needs. Just make sure you know what is happening around you before going for it.

Be Safe,

John

Ed Laugesen said:
I feel that most are right on as far as the fact that a team has to have a good leader, along with that there needs to be impowerment. The authority to make decisions with the scope of their work based on what needs to be done at a given time. I think there are a lot of "Teams" out there that work together to complete a common goal, however a lot of the time things do not have the proper outcome based simply on "I can't get hold of so-n-so, so we can't do it. The other part is if you want to be a good leader then you have to lead by example, never assign a task to a subordinate that you would not do. (There will always be exceptions) get down-n-dirty with the guys & gals you lead and they will follow you anywhere. Most of all support your team members, stand up for them and support them, in the same light let them know that unacccetable behaviour is out. As has been said before "A good team takes a long time to develope and can be destroyed by one untoward act"
Attachments:
Hey Ed,

Thanks for the clarification. I can't and wouldn't argue with that. I like it! Thanks for attaching the card.

John

Ed Laugesen said:
John, I was not talking about the fire ground, It goes without saying that there can only be one commander on a scene. My comment was aimed at the every day little things that come up where a person needs to be able to think and act within guidelines to use initiative without being punished unless it was just plain wrong, and there is where the good leader steps in and corrects the problem so it won't happen again. I picked up the attached card from a class at FDIC in 2004 fro the Navato Fire District in California that says it all
John Power said:
Debra and Ed,

Debra, I would go one step further and say that without a leader who "walks the walk" a team will not exist. Ed, I agree with you, but also would advise you to be careful.

To me if you "walk the walk" as Debra says you ARE willing to get "down and dirty" as Ed eludes to. Delegation is something that needs to happen when the time calls for it. But being careful not to start in one direction while something else is being started by Command in another area. This leads to confusion, a lack of manpower, and possibly a dangerous situation for everyone. Communications can be sketchy at best at times creating difficulties but if you must, send someone on foot to convey your intentions or needs. Just make sure you know what is happening around you before going for it.

Be Safe,

John

Ed Laugesen said:
I feel that most are right on as far as the fact that a team has to have a good leader, along with that there needs to be impowerment. The authority to make decisions with the scope of their work based on what needs to be done at a given time. I think there are a lot of "Teams" out there that work together to complete a common goal, however a lot of the time things do not have the proper outcome based simply on "I can't get hold of so-n-so, so we can't do it. The other part is if you want to be a good leader then you have to lead by example, never assign a task to a subordinate that you would not do. (There will always be exceptions) get down-n-dirty with the guys & gals you lead and they will follow you anywhere. Most of all support your team members, stand up for them and support them, in the same light let them know that unacccetable behaviour is out. As has been said before "A good team takes a long time to develope and can be destroyed by one untoward act"
Wow, can you believe we started this discussion almost a year ago? I must say, I knew I would learn from this site; I had no idea how much!

This time last year I was faced with the task of leading a technical rescue team into a two department merger that created the 3rd largest fire department in Colorado. Thanks, in part to the wisdom offered thus far in this discussion, the transition at the primary technical rescue station is going better than any of us could imagine. that said, we are in the next, perhaps most difficult thus far. The proverbial honeymoon period is coming to an end and the leading must continue, stronger than ever.

Issues such as training team members not at the primary technical rescue stations (stations with rescue companies) are at the forefront of our planning. Another issue is ensuring the training is beneficial for all team members is another. For example, team members staffed at the rescue company stations need advanced, technician (Level II) training, and they expect it to be good! Roving members need to be brought up to speed.

these are but a few challenges at this phase of the team development. Have you ever run across a situation similar to this? If so, how was it handled. More importantly, what did you or your team learn in this situation?

finally, thank you all for a GREAT year of discussion, I look forward to the next year as well!

Be SAFE!!! Scott
I just wanted to wish everyone a Safe, and Happy Easter! May God bless us all in everything we do!

John
So I was having breakfast with my Father (Louise’s Dad I, call him mine) this morning. He threw the following quotes out there, off the cuff while we were talking about leaders and decisions. The Sergeant Major spent 27 years in the USMC and is the most humble war hero I know. He never speaks of his wartime experiences in WW II and Korea to anyone except me and my brother-in-law (he would never want his daughters to hear the “bad side”).

“Leadership is something you owe yourself, not everyone else…it is a 24/7 responsibility, not just 9-5”
“I always used to tell my Marines, worry about what is in your pack, not the other guys”

Sergeant Major Roque E. Marquez (USMC Retired).


That said, my thoughts on leadership are that, In essence, leadership boils down to a member of a team possessing the interpersonal skills of communication and relationship building necessary to guide those around them to achieve a goal. This includes the process of planning, organization, management and delegation of tasks needed to meet objectives that compose the goal. In emergency services, it is a leaders responsibility to provide their team with everything possible to do their job safely, effectively, and to the best of their ability.

Do you feel leadership is something you owe yourself, you owe others, or you owe no one?
Thank you for your thoughts...BE SAFE!!!
Scott
I fully agree that leadership is personal and that we owe it to our self. The whole reason I became and officers was that 30 years ago we have little to no leadeship, things were stagnent and issues festered and I could not stand it. I saw how officers in other department were leading and wanted to make positve changes. Am I always a good leader? No, but I give it my best. Occasionally I hit a home run and some times I'm a flop (bad idea or tactic or delivery) or I dismiss something I should address. But I never dismiss my responsibility to myself. I could not retire (when its time) knowing I did not make the fire service a better place at some level, whether its local or larger. Do the right thing because it's the right thing, not the popular or flashy thing!
Scott/Drew,

I saw Scott's post on my iphone, and was thinking of if or what I wanted to say in response. I believe that Drew has summed things up pretty darn well.

I believe as well that only you can determine to BE a leader. If you believe that then you owe it only to yourself to become a leader. HOWEVER....once you make that step.....you then owe to the ones that are to follow you, as well as yourself, to be the BEST damn leader that you possibly can be. Half baked leadership has gotten more than one department into deeply embedded problems. Many of those we have heard about in Scott's postings!

Anyone that leads and expects to be perfect has defeated themselves before they have begun. We all have made mistakes and will continue until we step down. It is what we do with our errors that makes the difference!! Just my two cents..

Be Safe,

John

Drew Smith said:
I fully agree that leadership is personal and that we owe it to our self. The whole reason I became and officers was that 30 years ago we have little to no leadeship, things were stagnent and issues festered and I could not stand it. I saw how officers in other department were leading and wanted to make positve changes. Am I always a good leader? No, but I give it my best. Occasionally I hit a home run and some times I'm a flop (bad idea or tactic or delivery) or I dismiss something I should address. But I never dismiss my responsibility to myself. I could not retire (when its time) knowing I did not make the fire service a better place at some level, whether its local or larger. Do the right thing because it's the right thing, not the popular or flashy thing!
Great discussion!
Let's imagine,that you write a paper and it is the best paper that anyone has written! You could win all kinds of awards with this paper, it is that good! However, when you wrote the paper you made one tiny mistake and instead of re-writing the paper you decided to scribble out the mistake and correct it by writing above the scribble. Now remember this is the best paper that has ever been written by any writer! When this paper is showed to a friend the first thing they see is that scribble (the mistake) and ignoring how well written the paper was. At times, I think that we concentrate on negative parts of things that we encounter in life and the fire service. I truly believe if we train our people to turn the negatives into positives, there will be fewer roadblocks. Therefore, WE MUST lead by example with our team members/firefighters to look for the things that are right, making this a better service, a better team, and reducing roadblocks. To answer your question what is the biggest roadblock to building a team? I would say at times we stand in our way of our own success!

Your friend,
Todd McKee
Brothers Drew, John, and Todd,

first let me say...It is nice to see you guys, again. I had a few busy months where I was away; something was missing! I hope everyone has had a safe, great summer! I went to the mountains of Colorado last night and it felt like late fall. Time goes by so fast.

You guys make some great points, specifically, (Drew), not being perfect, making mistakes; John, "Anyone that leads and expects to be perfect has defeated themselves before they have begun". What a great thought! and Todd, perhaps the most profound: "To answer your question what is the biggest roadblock to building a team? I would say at times we stand in our way of our own success"!

I struggle with trying to always have the "perfect" solution. Just last shift I made a decision that, perhaps was not the safest decision. Without boring you with all the details, here is a summary. I am a LT on a Tower Ladder Company that has ALS capabilities. We received a call for seizures on a highway, just south of an exit ramp with sketchy details. This HWY intersects another a half mile south of the location given. I opted to SLOWLY oppose traffic up an exit ramp with visibility for (approx) 1000 feet. I had the engineer come to a complete stop at the top until we were sure everyone was stopped, then we made a right turn and headed to the call. Our dispatchers are usually AWESOME. That said, this was one of those times where the stuff was hitting the fan all over the district. I have had these "gut feelings" as a paramedic before, you know, the one where you are responding and things don't add up and you get that pit in your stomach! Mind you I had nothing concrete to base it on except poor access information and communication (on this call), and 11 years as a paramedic...Long story cut off, the "call" I made was the right one and we reached the guy in 15 seconds once we knew where he was. He was in seizures for fifteen minutes prior to our arrival, starting to posture, and one of my rock-star FFs got a quick IV as I was getting history from the wife (over the phone). When the medic (FD ambulance) arrived we gave Valium immediately and transported the 2 miles to the hospital, unable to intubate due to him biting his tongue (almost in half) and being clenched down. On arrival in the ED, it tool a respiratory doc and a camera (with sedation) ten minutes to successfully intubate. The call had a good outcome. What we didn't know (when I made my response decisions) is that he had a device placed inside him that fired every 30 seconds to keep him from seizures.

Was my decision to oppose traffic appropriate, perhaps. Did it make my crew uncomfortable, absolutely. To his credit, one member came to talk to me that evening and expressed his displeasure with the "call" I made to oppose traffic. Right or wrong, I must admit, I appreciate that member talking to me about it. My decision was not based on an algorithm, policy, or procedure. It was based on a "gut feeling" that this call was going down hill.

You gentlemen have followed this discussion long enough to know how meticulous I am regarding safety. Regardless of how "good" I think I am at safety, if one of my members feels strongly enough to speak up to me about an issue, I have to do some soul searching and make sure my stuff is on the right track.

I would make the same decision again, especially having the benefit of knowing the outcome. Even though we were two minutes from the ED, this man, in my opinion would most certainly gone into cardiac arrest had we not intervened as quickly as we did. The Medic and next Engine Company were about 4 minutes behind us. The patient crashed in a matter of 10 total minutes of on-scene and transport time.

Has this type of thing ever happened to you before, either as the formal leader or member of a team?

Thanks Brothas and Sistas! Be SAFE!!!
Scott
Scott:

Great discussion! You guys are all hitting the mark! I was thrilled to see new verbage breaking out once again on FE!

Often I think we are confident in our abilities and we feel we understand the battlefield enough to make informed, educated decisions and this clashes with the comfort level of others we work with or lead. I personally am very comfortable in the opposing lane, but I only stay there as long as necessary and I am always, cautious. Others I work with never, ever cross the yellow.
But anyway, a few months ago, I was the senior officer on a team making entry, attempting to hit the seat of a stubborn fire. This job had been a long one and we were all frozen cold and starting to not make the best decisions. The other officer with me sometimes doesn't communicate well and not suprisingly, he and the IC became confused with each other over our objective. Our orders were actually very clear. The fire had burned out of control an excessive amount of time, collapse had occured in another part of the structure and we were not to go beyond a particular load bearing wall. Before I knew it, the other officer and a probie had made the wall access and gone farther, (because you know how it is, you realize the fire is farther in than you thought or you see something that makes you think you can get it!) This other officer is twice my size and although very respectful and a good friend, is inclined to argue a point right in the middle of a storm. So with the probie in mind, I caught up, figured out what he was trying to do, sent him back to the door (instead of arguing), and helped the probie get the job done quickly and then both of us beat feet as fast as we could back to our safety line! Toooo late, there's the Chief....man, he chewed my keester up down and backwards, he was hot!! You see he trusts me, and I could tell he felt I let him down. I didn't even bother to explain, I just let him take it out on me. I felt I had made the best decision I could, what kind of officer would I be if I let the probie go into a questionable situation with an officer who didn't have the full picture? What kind of officer would I be if I blamed it on the two of them and their failed communication or on the fact that the other guy is always getting information all tangled up? I felt it was better to put myself there instead and cut it short, I just wasn't fast enough.

I was forgiven, but those moments come often it seems. They tend to be created by a lack of communication or mis-communication. Sometimes, I think we feel confident in ourselves and that scares other people a bit. I try to make my decisions based on what is best for the people I lead, not the other way around. I also believe in getting the job done the first time, so we can minimize the cluster****s like the one I found myself in that night. Sometimes it can really get me into trouble.

As for leadership. I began my first night on shift as an officer by staring at the ceiling above my bunk thinking, "Oh *****! I'm responsible for these guys!" I've never really stopped. I no longer feel that terror, havent' for many long years. But I'm always, always thinking about them, or what I need to do to improve myself or the team..for them. Like the Sgt. Major said, its 24/7, ...if it isn't, who are you doing it for?

By the way, tell your Dad I said "Semper Fi, Sgt. Major, ...Semper Fi!!"

Scott Richardson said:
Brothers Drew, John, and Todd,

first let me say...It is nice to see you guys, again. I had a few busy months where I was away; something was missing! I hope everyone has had a safe, great summer! I went to the mountains of Colorado last night and it felt like late fall. Time goes by so fast.

You guys make some great points, specifically, (Drew), not being perfect, making mistakes; John, "Anyone that leads and expects to be perfect has defeated themselves before they have begun". What a great thought! and Todd, perhaps the most profound: "To answer your question what is the biggest roadblock to building a team? I would say at times we stand in our way of our own success"!

I struggle with trying to always have the "perfect" solution. Just last shift I made a decision that, perhaps was not the safest decision. Without boring you with all the details, here is a summary. I am a LT on a Tower Ladder Company that has ALS capabilities. We received a call for seizures on a highway, just south of an exit ramp with sketchy details. This HWY intersects another a half mile south of the location given. I opted to SLOWLY oppose traffic up an exit ramp with visibility for (approx) 1000 feet. I had the engineer come to a complete stop at the top until we were sure everyone was stopped, then we made a right turn and headed to the call. Our dispatchers are usually AWESOME. That said, this was one of those times where the stuff was hitting the fan all over the district. I have had these "gut feelings" as a paramedic before, you know, the one where you are responding and things don't add up and you get that pit in your stomach! Mind you I had nothing concrete to base it on except poor access information and communication (on this call), and 11 years as a paramedic...Long story cut off, the "call" I made was the right one and we reached the guy in 15 seconds once we knew where he was. He was in seizures for fifteen minutes prior to our arrival, starting to posture, and one of my rock-star FFs got a quick IV as I was getting history from the wife (over the phone). When the medic (FD ambulance) arrived we gave Valium immediately and transported the 2 miles to the hospital, unable to intubate due to him biting his tongue (almost in half) and being clenched down. On arrival in the ED, it tool a respiratory doc and a camera (with sedation) ten minutes to successfully intubate. The call had a good outcome. What we didn't know (when I made my response decisions) is that he had a device placed inside him that fired every 30 seconds to keep him from seizures.

Was my decision to oppose traffic appropriate, perhaps. Did it make my crew uncomfortable, absolutely. To his credit, one member came to talk to me that evening and expressed his displeasure with the "call" I made to oppose traffic. Right or wrong, I must admit, I appreciate that member talking to me about it. My decision was not based on an algorithm, policy, or procedure. It was based on a "gut feeling" that this call was going down hill.

You gentlemen have followed this discussion long enough to know how meticulous I am regarding safety. Regardless of how "good" I think I am at safety, if one of my members feels strongly enough to speak up to me about an issue, I have to do some soul searching and make sure my stuff is on the right track.

I would make the same decision again, especially having the benefit of knowing the outcome. Even though we were two minutes from the ED, this man, in my opinion would most certainly gone into cardiac arrest had we not intervened as quickly as we did. The Medic and next Engine Company were about 4 minutes behind us. The patient crashed in a matter of 10 total minutes of on-scene and transport time.

Has this type of thing ever happened to you before, either as the formal leader or member of a team?

Thanks Brothas and Sistas! Be SAFE!!!
Scott
This is a great discussion.

Scott, Todd, Ben, and John-

Your comments are like a breath of fresh air. While I'm not at all depressed or discouraged, it's nice to hear from the 20% (20% of the organization does 80% of the work). We just started a new firefighter academy class where in my "spare time" I serve and the program manager. In this class we have 15 new firefighters from about a dozen departments. This too reenergizes me. It makes me want to lead even better because these candidates have not been tainted, have yet to develope habits and can truly be led by our 25+ instructors from 12+ departments. Most of our instructors are 20+ years members of the fire service and live the fire service. But we have some young blood that lives it as well.

As I read the previous posts and contemplated, I remembered the following personal sort of mission/vision/values I wrote up 12 years ago and which still sits on my desk. A few times a year one of our membes will come into my office and I'll catch them reading it. I can see they think "does he really mean it?" I hope they answer YES!



What’s Important to Me

Enjoying work

Completing assigned work

Knowing my rig is 100% ready, without question

Training and Public Education

Being Proud of the rigs, building, us
To reach this point, I keep the rigs, building, us as clean and neat as possible
You only get once change to make a first impressions

Treating members, others, customers like I want to be treated

Not talking down to a customer

Doing a little extra for the customer
Such as providing directions, assisting with securing the home on an EMS call, and salvage work at fires, no matter how small or large

I don’t always get to do these things 100% of the time, and sometimes I’m laxed, but I still keep on trying. -Drew Smith

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