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Leadership Complacency...Is There Such Thing?

Often times, the fire service talks about complacency in firefighters while operating during training evolutions and mitigating emergency incidents.  Fighting the complacency factor is critical in our business, while we must focus on safe operations reducing the critical factors of on the job injuries and deaths.  We continue to train at executing the basics and achieving proficiency, reaching for mastery in our craft.

We get so wrapped up in day to day activities, wanting to be the best at what we do.  It is without a doubt a thrilling experience when you execute that short or long stretch, reaching the seat of the fire in amazing speed, because that's what we train to do!  We do this to make ourselves, our co-workers, and communities better.

But what about those above us?  Do those so called "Leaders" do it for the same reasons we do?  There seems to be a common trend among us, where fire service leaders are in positions for themselves passing on a message of "what I say is what goes". 

Losing sight of why we are in this business can be detrimental to our organization, personnel, and communities.  Often times, leaders form bad habits from being in certain positions without change or challenge, leading to complacency in leadership.  Complacency in leadership can effect, but not limited to:

1. Where the organization is headed in the future.

2. Securing needed funding to meet the "Mission".

3. Updating current resources to meet the communities needs.

4. Forming cooperative partnerships that will encompass positive working relationships.

5. Organizational revisions to enhance operating guidelines.

Going to a well executed "job" is a great feeling, especially when your firemen recognize flow path, coordinate fire attack with ventilation, and overcome any obstacle thrown at them with rapidly changing conditions.  But...what happens to that well executed operation when your leadership fails to see their own mistakes at the top?

1. We lose our most valuable assets!

2. Our rigs show up with inadequate staffing!

3. Mutual aid partnerships fall apart!

4. Municipal leaders get involved!

5. We become COMPLACENT! 

A great group of firemen is essential in supporting the "Mission", but in order to grow great firemen, comes the responsibility of leading not only from the front, but from above...creating and managing that organization where firemen are going to stay for their career.

Yes...there is such thing as "Leadership Complacency!"  It is just as important as any other aspect of the job, and cannot be forgotten.

~Jeremy Rebok~



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Comment by Paul Strong on June 6, 2014 at 11:38pm

Jeremy, with your recognition of a leadership complacency issue, it appears you are in a great position to set the example, break the cycle, and create needed change. Leadership is often talked about from the "top down," but it should be talked about as leadership "throughout" the organization. If we rely on the other person to make the first leadership move, then quality leadership may not ever take place. Even the rookie can positively influence people and affect change. The great thing about leadership is that rank has nothing to do with it.  Titles are just words, leadership is action.  Keep your passion about closing the gap between the high standards of leadership and current performance. Thanks for the post.

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