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Dealing With A “Less Than Desirable” Firehouse Culture - Extreme Leadership

Great leaders know they simply can’t get anything done without people...  And those who do it well know they can get more done by who they know, than what they think they know. So leading up to our pre-conference workshop at the FDIC2019, here is some food for thought on fixing a dysfunctional fire department culture.

As a leader in an organization regardless of the color of your helmet, you must evaluate you and your officers ability to positively engage and influence those in your charge. Here is the top ten nuggets from our program.

#1. Don’t give inexperienced firefighters too much authority or personal responsibility too quickly. Many smaller fire department organizations struggle with this. Make sure they are supervised and mentored for long term success.

#2. Do not assign a task or function that they can’t win at. Especially on the fire ground. Focus on their strengths in battle and their weaknesses during training.

#3. Don’t stall the entire organization by trying to get everyone up to the same training level or speed. Moving too slow will create bored firefighters. Stagnation fosters unhappy firefighters too. A wise old Captain once said, idle hands breed hate and discontent. Make sure operational readiness is the priority. Taking care of Mrs. Smith has always been the end game.

#4. Are you barely doing training or are focusing on too much specialty stuff? I haven’t met a new firefighter yet that didn’t want to succeed in the firehouse, and as a leader it’s your job to continue to elevate them during their journey.

#5. Model the desired behaviors. Character is the currency of the Fire Service. Even the most seasoned firefighters want their leaders to lead by example. Are you in the trenches, training with the troops, maintaining not only your skills but a fitness level to be ready to respond. Every officer has the opportunity and the obligation to develop the next generation of leaders. Model the attitude, work ethic and KSA’s that you want to see in others.

#6.  Believe in your people! As an officer, are you making people believe they can succeed in life and at the firehouse? Tell them what is expected of them, and that you expect them to be the best. Firefighters need a drop of dopamine now and then for continued motivation and employee engagement. Hearing that you believe in them and all of their efforts will go a long way! Once firefighters realize that you genuinely care; want them to succeed and are committed to helping them win, they will believe they can accomplish just about anything that you assign to them.

#7. The power of giving the right feedback at the right time. It’s your responsibility to give people honest feedback. Great leaders praise in public and mentor or coach in private. The one on one should create a circle of safety, where people are confident that the feedback is being given without negative judgment.

#8. Great leaders give them wings! Many people in leadership positions dole out responsibility. Delegating tasks is not leadership. But understanding how important empowering firefighters is, now that is leadership. Great leaders give away their knowledge and power to create firefighters who get s*** done. Don’t get it confused you see Leadership - Followership alone is not Leadership, that is in reality the management of people. To make it true leadership, firefighters must be given an opportunity to make decisions, solve problems and mitigate incidents on their own for personal growth and success.

#9. Prepare your firefighters with the tools, equipment and knowledge to want to seek promotion. If done correctly that may include them looking to leave to seek new opportunities. But the true test of your influence is when that time actually comes... that they won’t want to leave the organization.

#10. Understand that Failure is part of the process of progressive leadership. Prepare them to understand the value of change but not fear change itself. You can always go back to what works, but sitting on we’ve always done it this way will never make you progressive.

If your department’s culture and firefighter morale is at an all time low, stop blaming others and start doing something about it.  Come join us for a great morning session with one of the best leadership programs at FDIC2019. Extreme Leadership has put measurability back into a leadership program. This will not be a Sunday Sermon. We continually receive incredible, positive feedback from our conference attendees. Consider joining us for Extreme Leadership - Building High Performance Teams on Tuesday April 9th, 2019 at 08:00 hours in the Indiana Convention Center

About the Presenter:

Billy Greenwood is a 26 year student of the fire service, holding positions in volunteer, paid on call and career fire departments. He is currently the Assistant Chief of Training at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and a Career Lieutenant with the City of Keene, NH. Fire Department. Billy is also Senior Staff Instructor with the New Hampshire Fire Academy, FDIC International presenter for the past 7 years and he also the owner FETC Services.  FETC Services provides advanced level firefighting and leadership programs throughout the United States. He has been published in Fire Engineering and Fire Rescue Magazines and also hosts a radio show called, Tap the Box on Fire Engineering Radio.

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