Important Qualities for Fire Service Leadership – Part 2

To summarize so far – As part of the National Fire Academy (NFA) Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP), the student is required to author an Applied Research Project (ARP) within six months of completing each of the four classes. I completed an ARP that culminated in describing the top ten leadership qualities that fire departments felt were important for their leaders to have. A survey was sent to 50 metropolitan departments including my own department at the time. Each department identified their top ten leadership qualities. In the next few weeks I will present these qualities and in this article are qualities eight and seven.

The term leadership has many definitions and many (too many to count) books have been written about it.  One simple definition is, “Leadership is any attempt to influence the behavior of another individual or group.”

When my daughter was eight years old, she took our dog, a 120 pound Akita, out to the garage and began teaching the dog hand signals, and of course, all this without Mom and Dad knowing. When our daughter had completed what she determined was enough, she then proudly showed us what she had accomplished. It a simple way, this was leadership as defined by the definition stated above. Our daughter attempted and succeeded in influencing the behavior of our dog.

The act of leadership is not difficult, however, becoming a leader that others respect, admire, and use as a role model is the difficult part. In one “Family Guy” episode, Peter is walking by a stable of horses and passes each one as they stand in the doorway. After walking by several, Peter passes by one horse, stops and backs up, and says, “I don’t know what it is, but you – have – got – IT!” I think that’s a good way to describe what a leader is. They have it.

8.  Vision

Develop a vision. A Leader must provide direction to those theylead and never let them wander aimlessly. A corporate vision is a short, succinct, and inspiring statement of what the organization intends to become and what intends to achieve at some point in the future. Vision refers to the category of intentions that are broad, all-inclusive and forward-thinking.  It is the image that a business must have of its goals before it sets out to reach them. It describes aspirations for the future, without specifying the means that will be used to achieve those desired ends. Successful leaders must have a vision for the workplace and the community that ultimately results in a significant improvement of the organizational culture and the workplace environment.

7.  Honesty

The concept of honesty applies to all behaviors. For example,one cannot refuse to consider information that is factual and still claim that their knowledge, belief, or position is an attempt to be truthful or is held in “good faith.” Such willful blindness is clearly a product of one’s own desires and simply has nothing to do with the human ability to know. Basing your position on what you want — rather than unbiased evidence gathering — is dishonest even when good intentions can be cited — after all even villains could cite good intentions and intended glory for a select group of people. Clearly then, an unbiased approach to the truth is a requirement of honesty. Practice honesty, base your decisions on known facts, and make decisions based on the good of the organization.

Remember to Stay Safe – Everyone Goes Home

William Jolley has 37 years of experience in the fire service with 20 of those years in a management position. William was the Fire Chief of Haines City, Florida, a city of Approximately 20,000. Prior to that William was the Assistant Chief of Saint Petersburg, Florida, where he worked for 35 years.

Posted in Chief William Jolley, Leadership.