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Appointed or Anointed?

I have had the honor of serving as a Chief Officer for nearly twenty-eight years. I have seen a few things and I have been around the block a couple of times. I may be different from some because I believe that I was appointed but never anointed.

I recall a Captain opening my office door and advising me that a Battalion Chief from FDNY was in the kitchen of our firehouse. I finished my phone conversation and went to the kitchen to greet the visiting Chief.

As I entered the kitchen and introduced myself, the FDNY BC was the only person to stand up. We made small talk over coffee and after a few minutes the visiting Chief asked me why the company members didn’t stand when I entered the room. I answered that standing was our protocol but I preferred them to stand up for me at two in the morning when we had a fire. That is how I feel and he liked that.

I have always been comfortable in my skin. I didn’t change much as I advanced in the job because who I was and what I was doing seemed to be working. My position changed but I did not.

Everyone who leads has to paddle their own career canoe. Their speed, direction and balance don’t have to be the same as mine and nor do the provisions that they carry on the trip. How you are acknowledged, recognized and respected is up to you, but be comfortable in the water if standing up is for you.

Appointed or Anointed?

Some people walking out front are not leaders. Sometimes they just broke in line. Those who follow in the fire service are good judges of leaders. They read fire, they read smoke and they read people. They assess and recognize leaders who are credible or just seeking credit, show or go, appointed or anointed.

I served as a Captain in a “Chief’s house” the Big Red One. One day after lunch, I noticed a Chief Officer leave their plate, drink, silverware and napkin on the table and casually leave the kitchen. When I asked the crew if this was normal they just smiled. I directed that the mess be left in place and not moved.

 After dinner, I was called to the Chief’s office and asked “what’s with the lunch plate still on the table?” My reply was that someone had apparently forgotten to take it to the sink after enjoying lunch and that I had directed that it not be moved. To the credit of the Chief, his reply was “That’s all, thank you.” There was no repeat of the anointed behavior.

I look forward to tomorrow as the first day of the rest of my career. I’ll paddle forward with honor and never forget those on the trip with me. I’ll do my part as well as I can and I’ll give deserved praise along the way.

Be true to yourself and hardware humble.

Acknowledge all visitors, they are important.

If you create a mess, stand up, step up and clean up.

A little dish washing won’t tarnish real hardware.

Don’t forget your manners.

What kind of team is behind you?

Stand tall in your appointed role.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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Comment by Michael Palumbo on February 28, 2014 at 3:09pm

This is a great article. Thanks.

Comment by P.J. Norwood on February 27, 2014 at 7:59am

Great learning points for all current and future leaders! Thank you for sharing!

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