Conversations swarming over fire and emergency services organizations these days have defined a need for mentoring the future leaders of this business and passing on the crucial information needed for the planning process. However, there are debates everyday about building our next generation and how current Chief Officers are not conquering this particular task.
As I was rummaging through my old magazine subscriptions, I merely opened up an old Firehouse Magazine, June 1996 Ed., and began to flip through the pages when it jumped out at me. The headline reads "Fire Politics", by the great Hal Bruno. I had to chuckle, as I continued to read the great article from when I was 18 years old; just to realize the same issues we are facing today, we faced when I really didn't know any different.
Interestingly enough, "human factor" was the main topic of this article and how it plays a vital role into any organization, whether career, volunteer, or combination. As there are some speculations that things are different today from 1996, we can take a look at "human factor" in today's culture and learn from the vital mistakes we have been making for years!
Taking Care of Our People - If you don't have a strong driving force of personnel, you might as well lock the doors and sell the apparatus. Our people are what keeps us operational, answering the calls for help at 2 a.m., trusting us with their life. If you are a strong leader and take care of your people, they will take care of you in return.
Bad Attitudes - Every firehouse has attitudes, and those attitudes are formed from beliefs, values, and different experiences. Each and every one of us has an attitude, but let us not not forget, an ill attitude can be a driving force behind people leaving your organization. Just because you said so, doesn't mean it's correct.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due - If you run a strong organization, you will embrace a huge amount of people who are willing to step up and be the lead for projects. It just might work out, where you will have to turn people away. When a specific person or group of people accomplish a task or project, give them the all mighty "Thank You" and recognize their hard work does not go unnoticed. There is no need to wait for an awards banquet or ceremony to recognize outstanding work.
Make Them Part of The Team - A common misconception in our business is the Chief makes all the rules. I am going to throw the red flag here and tell you that is a mistake. It is your responsibility to ensure your mission is being met, and in order to meet the mission, you need a great "TEAM". Having programs managed by a team is a vital aspect that is missed by most, and that team needs to be made up of people from all types of membership status. I am an advocate of having more than 1 idea, and because you are the Chief, doesn't necessarily mean you have the answer.
If you are a fire service leader, please encompass the fact that your people are the most important part of your organization. You can easily be replaced if you are found to be the driving force behind a dwindling membership.
We are subject to valuable information each and everyday, with fire service leaders from all over the country spreading a wealth of knowledge. It is time we strive forward in making a positive impact for our organizations, community, and memberships.
From 1996 to now...where's the disconnect?