Tag Archives: leader

True Leadership: Paul Combs

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“Determination will conquer any obstacle!”

Paul Combs, hits the nail right on the head!

Being the Company Officer Doesn’t Make You One – Chief Steven Orusa

Of the countless people who take on various leadership roles in the fire service, how many encounter resistance to their attempts to lead or even hostility, jealousy or unfriendliness. How many find the transition to company officer challenging to say the least? If, being a leader turns out to be a bad experience it is almost always because of the officers own ineffectiveness. The purpose of this presentation is to show you what special skills and methods you must learn to use today’s “model” of effective company officer leadership.

A 29-year public safety veteran, Steven Orusa is the Fire Chief for the Fishers Fire Department. He has a bachelor of science in Law Enforcement Administration and his graduate work is in Human Resource Management. He is a published author and is a frequently invited speaker on public safety leadership and development techniques. He has provided analysis on public safety response for USA Today, Fire Chief Magazine, Fire Engineering Magazine, and has also appeared on BBC, MSNBC, Fox News and CNN to provide expert analysis on disaster response.

F.M. Tanya Hoover

Check out California State Fire Marshal Tanya Hoover.  I had the great opportunity to meet and speak with Fire Marshal Hoover at an IAFF Instructor Development Conference.  She was personable and dynamic.   This clip is from the Fire Alumni Workshop Series.

The Fire Alumni Events continue to motivate and educate future firefighters in the right direction. These events will prepare you, the candidate, to become a firefighter anywhere in the nation. for Fire Departments across the nation.

The Chameleon Fire Officer

Mentor, Menace or Mediocre…Make Up Your Mind!

by John Alston

 ChameleonA chameleon is defined as any one of numerous Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleontidae, characterized by the ability to change the color of their skin, very slow locomotion, and a projectile tongue; or a changeable, fickle, or an inconstant person.
Having worked with Firefighters and Fire Officers from several departments, over many years, I continue to hear the same complaint and praises.  The issue is consistency.
The Chameleon Fire Officer: (The one who changes and blends with his/her environment as a defense mechanism.)  Is slow to react.  They can be characterized as fickle, moody and unpredictable.  They may display one aspect of their character as Firefighters; then a different one as a Fire Officer.  At best, they will make one change and you have to live with it; or at worst be one way today and another tomorrow.  I hear this assessment, over and over and over again.  Indecision and inconsistency in the fire station is bothersome yet tolerable.  It can be deadly on the fire-ground.
Let’s look at the three: Mentor, Menace or Mediocre.

MENTOR:

Graphic by Malcolm Alston

Have you adopted the character traits, persona and practices of a mentor.  Someone who is approachable, learned, intuitive, genuinely concerned for the positive growth and development of others?  Are you a good listener?  Do you constantly strive to stay at the top of your game (by study, taking courses and by information sharing); so that you are a valuable and knowledgeable resource to subordinates, colleagues, your superiors, and the public?  Do you help, aid, and assist all members of your service, where-ever you encounter them?  Do you seek genuine opportunities to encourage others?  Do you attempt to turn negatives into positives?

Being a mentor is a selfless act.  It is a continuous process. It is a transparent process. It takes a strong commitment and a lot of work!

MENACE:
Have you adopted the character traits or persona of a Menace?  Are you perceived as one? Let’s face it –many members of our profession are “Type A” personalities. That is a good thing, at times and a horrible attribute at others.  I have met officers that bring hidden and no-so-hidden agendas to the workplace.  Why?When this happens, it clouds their judgement in all aspects of the work environment.  It causes other members of the service to shut down and avoid them.  One of the problems with that is many times those Menacing Officers are in key positions in the organization. LOL.  There is not enough couch time to unpack the psychological “issues” that created this “character”; just know that they are out there.Now, when I say a “Menacing Officer”, I don’t just mean the type that is always lewd, crude and obnoxious.  I don’t even limit that monicker to the one that is “in your face”.  I have met some of the quietest menaces you could find. Their modus operandi is calm, cool and just as menacing as officer who is “out there”.  These quiet, nondescript, “Closet Menacers” (<–poetic license, instead of “Menaces”) have their own way about harassing coworkers and subordinates.  They apply discipline and work assignments, disproportionately.  They play favorites and the “ends against the middle” (Classic divide and conquer).  Some of whom you would think stepped right out of the pages of General Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War” or Niccoli Machiavelli’s, ” The Prince “.  Cold, quiet and calculating.  Yet, a Menace, none the less!
MEDIOCRE:

Have you adopted the attitude, character traits and/or persona of a mediocre officer.  Status Quo is sufficient. It’s the Guy or Gal at the top who caused these problems and only they can fix them.  “Morale is low!”  “You really can’t change things, anyway.”  “Why Try?”  “There’s no benefit or penalty for attempting to improve things.”  “People are people.”  “This new generation of Firefighters are the worst ever!”  “You just have to go along to get along (and get ahead).”  “Things are just fine the way they are.”  “I set my expectations low and that way I am rarely disappointed.”  “Same Circus, Different Clowns!” “I’m just here for the paycheck.”.  Sound like anyone you know?

The Mediocre Officer is indecisive or, at worst, nonchalant. They are not engaging.  They skate by, with everything.  This person takes on the personality trait that they have already arrived or have risen as high as they can.  His/her characteristics are “Laissez-faire” (indifferent, hands-off or do the bare minimum).  One definition of laissez-faire is literal, “let it/them pass”.  Meaning let it along.  Don’t get involved.  Don’t interfere.  Don’t make changes.  Don’t make decisions.  Do you know someone like this?  Is it you???

 Which One is Worse?

Please use the comment section to explain.

Copyright 2015 John Alston. All rights reserved

13 Career Crushers

No Matter the Industry!
No Matter the Industry!
The 13 Career Crushers are universal indexes.
My take:
  1. Revenge is a dish best served cold or not at all…
  2. Treat others better than you want to be treated
  3. Use lists, take notes and a calender (planner)
  4. Keep your personal business “PERSONAL” – Manage
  5. Understand and practice your organization’s mission and goals
  6. Take care of your self; work, refresh and rest
  7. Stay current with industry and technology trends
  8. Stay trustworthy and transparent not C.Y.A.
  9. Respect your superiors, if not the person the position
  10. Truth crushed to earth will rise again
  11. Aggressive and/or Vociferous alignment or posturing is never good.
  12. Cutting corners is still cutting something
  13. Stay on your “A-Game”.  Know your job and everyone elses.

What’s your take???

The Art of Leadership

True Leaders:

Many aspire to Leadership, but few understand its true nature.  Leadership is not an ego game.  True leaders have vision and place the goals of the institution above their own interests.  True leaders realize the importance of the people working with them.  True leaders are not only open to good ideas, but also have the courage to implement them. j. donald walters

 A few years ago, I (@j_alston) read a book by J. Donald Walters titled, “The Art of Leadership“.  At the time, I thought it was a short and simple read.  Oh how wrong that turned out to be.  Since the first time I picked it up, I have been carrying it with me for about 11 years.  It continues to yield great insight and confirmation.  It has also been published under the title, “The Art of Supportive Leadership“; How very telling that title appears to be.  It tells me that, being a leader, is not always the idea of getting support from the people you work with; but moreover being supportive of them as well.  It is reciprocal. Their is a flow of energy, ideas and support; that is continuous. Symbiotic, as it were.

There are so many books on Leadership and Management.  It is sometimes hard to choose the right ones.  There are books that are specific to Fire and Emergency Management Services; and then there are those like this one that provide those critical nuggets of wisdom; those bursts of clarity that guide us, ever so gently, towards the right path.


Some of what I got from it:

  • Understand the Nature of Leadership (It’s about people, “DUH”!)
  • Lose the Ego (Easing God Out)
  • Have Clarity of Vision (Knowing who you are and your purpose)
  • Never lose sight of the goals of your institution or organization
  • Recognize the importance of the people working with you (Collectively and Individually)
  • Be Supportive
  • De-prioritize your own personal ambitions, as they relate to others and your organization
  • Be open and receptive
  • Give value to the opinions of others
  • Have the courage to implement action and change course when necessary

WHERE THERE IS RIGHT ACTION…THERE IS VICTORY.

– Sanskrit Proverb

more to follow…

Be the Thermostat…Not the Thermometer

 thermo

by John Alston

(podcast “PLAY” button below)
 When talking to Fire Officers I find that many, sometimes, fall into two basic categories:
“Thermometers” and  “Thermostats”
Sometimes they find themselves, in one of two of these categories, through no fault of their own.  Through discussion at meetings and by gauging the types of questions that they ask; or positions they assert; I wonder how they arrived there.  Is it the “climate” where they work?  Maybe the orientation or initiation they received.  I surmise that  long before they rose through the ranks, their indoctrination, association and/or training dictated their category… and they can’t shake it. Was it osmosis???  The old nature-nurture debate???  No one can give a definitive answer.A more pertinent question: Is there a system or process in place to move Fire Officers into one of these two categories?  Is there a process to change them from one category to the other?
Thermometers:
Thermometers (definition – an instrument that reads or measures temperature) read the temperature in the room and display there findings. They do not initiate their own actions.  They wait until something happens and then display themselves. They change constantly, based on other conditions.  Thermometers are sometimes fickle or, at best, just register/report/represent the “ambient” temperature.  In other words, you don’t get a true read.  Sometimes there is a delay in their response. They do not initiate anything.  They react and respond to outside influences.
Thermostats:
Thermostats (definition – an automatic or manual device for regulating temperature), on the other hand, are changers. They have the ability to effect and affect their environment.  They can cause us to become warm or cold.  They can alter the atmosphere.  They can make us/others uncomfortable or motivate us to change.  They can have a negative effect, at times. But if they are set right, they continue to do their job correctly.  Thermostats can handle the heat and the cold, seamlessly.  The good ones do their job efficiently.
Which One Are You?
more to follow…

Copyright 2015 John Alston. All rights reserved.