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 It is estimated that, within the last ten years; 1,500,000,000 articles and books have been written on Leadership. That is not a typo.


And if someone tells you, "I have read every book there is on Leadership", you might want to do a fact check. I mean; the time commitment alone to accomplish that should raise a red flag.


Think of all of the authors who believe in their heart that they have the definitive book on leadership skills. How would they know? How would WE know?


When the comment is made, "this is the best book on Leadership that I have ever read"; what exactly is the weight of such a statement when you could hypothesize that they have a small number upon to base their claim.


I submit that I have read approximately 100 books and over 500 articles on Leadership. I thought that to be quite a few, but when I saw the estimate of how many books and articles have been written in just the last ten years; I can now see how utterly pathetic my efforts to be a better leader have been.


Because Leadership is all about buying the book and reading it; right?


Or if you're like me, you don't have that kind of free time, so you buy audiobooks!


Regardless of the medium, it promises to transport you on a transformative path to becoming a new leader or to become a better leader. Let's not get ahead of ourselves and talk about great leaders just yet.


So, knowing the sheer numbers of what is out there to read on Leadership, how do we know that what we are reading is even a good book on Leadership? Should writing a book on Leadership be an essential component of said Leader's skill sets? And they can even throw in assistance from a ghost writer.


How many good leaders have written good books on Leadership? How many leaders have been SO good that books were written about them? Didn't see that one coming, did you? But these are some of the troubling thoughts that populate the cavities of my mind.


If we cannot distinguish between what is a good book on Leadership and what isn't, then are we faced with a similar dilemma when we discuss leaders?


What I know about leadership musings is that I don't care for books or articles that over-rely upon buzzwords, catch phrases and famous quotes. I prefer original and unique perspectives on an issue that is going to impact the future of the fire service.


Think about it. We have come to rely upon so much artificial intelligence that we are not exercising our brains enough. Critical thinking? Yeah; there's an app for that.


You want to be a leader? That's a great question. I dedicate an entire chapter to that in my book that is available for sale through my website.


I apologize. That last paragraph was dripping with sarcasm.


To be fair, I have read some great books on Leadership in the fire service. So that you won't think that I am pandering to my successful authors/friends, I won't name names. They know who they are. But I have some serious advice for them in my following thoughts.


Today's leaders who want to share their experiences in order to grow the next generation of leaders need to shake up the medium. Conventional means are no longer the accepted means.


Here is how I want my information in today’s world.


First of all, I no longer have the luxury of getting home from work, grabbing a book and sitting uninterrupted for the next few hours to read and comprehend what I’m reading. For a number of reasons, I do not have the time anymore.


Where I used to read my newspapers in the evening, I can now get my news throughout the day from the Internet. I can “google” for information and I can go to YouTube for videos.


And it is done with very little effort.


I like my learning to be “on-line”. I don’t need a classroom full of talking heads for its social aspects. I have many friends. It does not have to be a component of my learning experience. I want the information, I want to be tested on it and I want to apply it…as soon as I can.


To keep up with the velocity of an ever-changing world, you have to match that velocity with your adaptive skills. If you are like me, you want college-level courses from an on-line source that is accredited through a reputable college or university. I don’t want it from a “paper mill”. Any honors afforded for my studies should not be denigrated as one that is simply “purchased”. There are “paper mills” that are out there, but let’s be honest: a framed parchment does not a leader make.


Outside of the virtual classroom, I want to download and take the information with me. Be it a phone, tablet or laptop, I want the portability so that I can take advantage of “down-time”. I find that podcasts and webinars fit well into my daily schedule. Networking websites such as LinkedIn are populated by people just like me. You can network with those in your profession and join its discussion groups. I have been using LinkedIn from its very beginning. It’s been very beneficial.


Facebook and Twitter has been instrumental in helping to get the word out on many of the recent developments in the fire service from product information to reports of incidents in virtually real time. We are able to see it play out right before our very eyes.


You may be thinking that there are many “posers” and “trolls” out there on the Internet and you would be correct. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can be whatever they want to be. They can, with a stroke of the keyboard, be a leader. And if you don’t have the maturity, the “gut” or a working BS meter, you could easily buy into what they are selling; a whole lot of nothing.


That brings me right back to the beginning.

Regardless of how you get your information, you need to know the source, know their credentials and trust the message.


And remember that you can’t buy leadership; you can only buy the book.


Let’s get together at FDIC and talk about it. I’ll be over by the books.


The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or any of their subsidiaries. All articles by the author are protected by copyright under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella and cannot be reproduced in any form without explicit permission from the article’s author.

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