For as long as I can remember I have heard people say, as a person in a leadership position you are not supposed to play favorites. That by doing this it causes distrust and damages your credibility. Not only that, it is an unfair way to lead. I will agree to an extent. I think there is a fine line we have to walk when it comes to playing favorites with the firefighters in our stations.
So, do I play favorites? I sure do! My favorites are the ones that come into work every day and bleed passion for this job. They are the ones who are dedicated to getting better at their craft every day. The ones that are not my favorites are the kind that choose to contribute less than 1 hour of their 24 hour shift to make themselves better at what they do. That’s roughly 10 hours a month depending on your schedule. Little league ball players dedicate more time to their activity than that. We are not here to perform an activity; we are professionals.
These types of firefighters are going to be the ones that get rewarded with more responsibility. These are the ones that are going to be given the hard jobs. When it comes getting things done on the fireground or on that critical call I know I can put my trust in them. They will be rewarded for their hard work. Peer pressure goes a long way sometimes and sometimes this is all it will take for others to get the message and get on board, sometimes not. I believe we should take a case by case leadership approach and not everyone should be stroked with the same brush.
I think sometimes we disguise playing favorites by calling people our “go-to” guys or girls. So yes, I play favorites. I don’t know about you, but hard work and dedication to a craft should be celebrated and rewarded. So let’s talk about the bad side of the playing favorites fence. If we find ourselves only dedicating time to certain individuals, our favorites, then we are wrong. As I said before, everyone should have the opportunity to get to be that “go to” guy or girl. We need to give the same effort to everyone when it comes to professional development, and isolating people completely would be wrong. One thing we also have to be cautious of is when it comes to evaluation time. Don’t think that our favorites will slip from time to time or need some reminders. Do not make the mistake of going into an evaluation not giving the same transparency and honesty that you would with someone else. If you are able to walk this line, then you are where you need to be.
So I ask you, do you play favorites? Often times its these favorites that will move your organization forward, not the ones that can memorize the TV remotes.