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. For the executive Leadership class ARP, I sent a survey to 50 metropolitan departments including my own department at the time. I then compiled the results and completed an ARP that culminated in describing the top 10 leadership qualities that my own department and outside fire departments felt were important for their leaders to have. In the next few weeks I will present these qualities and in this article are qualities six and five.
Through research, we learn that no single management style or leadership trait is the best. Situational management and flexible leadership are descriptive terms for the best suited style for a given situation. There are good managers and good leaders; however, very few of those in a supervisory position do both well.
Managers at various levels of organizations seem to share a respect for the abilities of their colleagues, and the belief that they enjoy the confidence of their superiors. This atmosphere of pride andconfidence is infectious. Self – confidence is critical to decisiveness, for without it, an officer loses his following in challenging situations. Proper training and experience develops in officers a personal feeling of assurance with which to meet the inherent challenges of leadership. Those who portray a lack of self-confidence in their abilities to carry out assignments give signs to their subordinates, peers, and superiors that these duties are beyond their capabilities. Wear confidence on your sleeve.
Making the right decision at the right time has always proved to be an elusive prospect. While it is possible to do so, as a leader you will also make incorrect decisions. Many of these decisions will have little or no effect on the organization as a whole, but if you are fortunate enough to reach upper levels of management, the decisions you make will affect an individual, a group, or the entire organization. Decisiveness is a learned skill. Through experience, past practice and precedent one can learn not to repeat the same errors as those before. Initiative in decision making is not sufficiently demonstrated by an officer when it occurs only in relation to easy assignments. It must be exhibited when facing difficult and high risk tasks as well. A resolve to do the right thing is characteristic of good decision making. Responsible decisions are hard to improve upon and the perfect decision is rare. The best decisions are usually the more prudent of the logical alternatives. Every decision is an opportunity to improve the conditions of the organization. Officers must learn to be decisive, knowing when to act and when not to act, taking into account all facts bearing on the situation and then responsibly carrying out their leadership role. Procrastination confuses and discourages your subordinates, peers and superiors.
The responsibilities of leadership are great. In the end, vision, drive, energy, singleness of purpose, wise use of resources and a commitment to the mission of the department become a characteristic of an officer who excels. A leader should always put forth their best effort, listen, learn, walk the talk and be committed to the organization.
Remember – 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.