Building Strong Leadership Habits-Fulfilling Schwarzkopf Rule #13
By: Scott Symonds
As we begin to transcend generations in the fire service we are at a pivotal moment. We are rapidly approaching a shift in direction. The changing direction is not based on tactics, science, or procedure. It is based on leading people and not simply managing an organization. At the heart of the organization are its people. Leadership is about people.
We are coming into a social series in which leadership is now centered on credential based leaders and away from the motivational styles of the past. This is a double-edged sword. Leaders must be knowledgeable in the craft of fire suppression with a reasonable understanding of the technical and scientific based aspects, but they also must be able to motivate a multigenerational organization toward a common goal.
There are many opportunities where emergency services and military services have come into the arena looking to tackle the same problems. Recognition Primed Decision Making was one of the first models used to evaluate the interaction between leadership decision making between leaders in the fire service and leaders in the armed services. In this study they evaluated how leaders in both groups made calculated decisions and what models they used to make them.
The military style of leadership trends more toward rank, structure and discipline. We in the fire service have attempted to mimic that and have had limited success. The success on this is really dependant, at times, on the organizational model that is in place, having clearly defined roles for leaders within the organization and adhering to the policies, procedures, and overall tone of the agency.
Motivating factors for leaders can come from a variety of different things. Some are there for the power and authority, others are in place because it was their time, while some have risen through the rank and file based on performance and dedication. The method in which leaders are chosen varies through out the fire service. While some go through an assessment center, still others are voted in by populous within the organization, and in a few remaining places within the country they are voted in on the general government ballot by the citizens of the communities for which they serve.
When looking at the base for which they are selected, itâ€™s not unreasonable to look and see that some of the leaders are failing miserably. We are seeing this in small towns and large urban centers. We canâ€™t blame the leaders, well, not entirely anyway. They may have never had any sort of leadership development. As we said earlier, some were voted in by popular vote. Some may be suffering from antiquated notions from which to operate. This will likely not end well for these leaders. Especially if they are of the thought process that nothing is wrong and that the way that they have always done it is working just fine.
Shared with this article is a clip from a presentation by Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf. In 2010 General Schwarzkopf shared with the world 14 basic rules for leadership. They are easy enough to find. All you have to do is enter it into any search engine and you will find them. We are going to focus on lucky #13:
â€œWhen placed in command take chargeâ€
This doesnâ€™t simply mean that now you are there itâ€™s time to toss over the apple cart and see what you can stir up.
It starts simply with â€œWhen placed in commandâ€¦â€¦.However, you may have ended up in the leadership role is not of any relevance to the rule. Regardless of it how you got there, it is now time to take charge. Develop your leadership skills in a manner that affords you to interact with all the personnel within your organization. Above all, now that you are here own it. Own up to everything that is involved in your position. Honesty and transparency are strong character traits that will compliment any great leaderâ€™s character.
While we are on the topic of character, be of strong character, in a positive manner. Be something that sets the example. No one is going to follow you if you arenâ€™t willing to set the tone and show them that this is where the bar is. Â Strong leadership has nothing to do with managing people. Leadership is about people. Itâ€™s about showing them their value to the organization, about showing them that without them their the team is incomplete. Engage them. Bring them in and show that you are accountable to them just as they are accountable to the organization and then you.
Go out with the crews, engage them and set the standards.
They expect it.
About the author:
Scott has served for over 23 years in emergency services in the fire service, EMS and law enforcement through out the New England area. Inspector Symonds has worked up and down the east coast in small communities and large urban environments. He currently serves as a Fire Inspector in his agency, a ProBoard FF2 and Paramedic graduate of the New England EMS Institue. Scott Symonds comes from a family with a combined total of over a century of fire service experience. Scott has a passion for emergency services development. In his small amount of free time he enjoys hiking with his family and all things outdoors.