In part 3 we discussed the four areas that must be addressed when moving into a leadership position. Now that you have moved into the position, you have to step up and be the leader your team wants and needs.
Firefighters need good leaders. It is now up to you to be that leader. In order to be the leader your firefighters need, there are five items on the checklist that you must address. Consider this the incident checklist for leadership.
#1 – Lead From The Front
Far too often, new officers get caught up with managing their people and never lead them. The difference in the two is that the manager is standing behind his or her people telling them what to do, while the leader will stand in front and show them what to do. Lead and mentor your people, and never think you’re above washing the engine.
#2 – Be Fair
You established your standards when you moved into the position, now you have to be fair in applying those standards. If someone is not meeting the standards, find out why and fix it. If someone exceeds the standard, reward them for it. Included in this is documenting expectations and performance, both good and bad. If you do not explain your expectations and document everyone’s performance compared to those expectations, you have nothing to base rewards or improvements on.
#3 – Empower Your Team
Empowering your team is essential to the success of the team and you. John C. Maxwell, a famous leadership author explains it in the simplest way: “Enlarging others makes you larger.” Give each member of your team tasks that play to their strengths, and make them tasks that will have an impact on the organization or the customer. Your teammates will be empowered if you do.
#4 – Trust Your Team
Trust is a two-way street. Your team has to trust you, and you have to trust them. As the leader, you have to give the team an opportunity to prove that you can trust them. You have given them the power to accomplish tasks, now you have to trust them to accomplish those tasks. However, it is important to note that you will have someone break that trust at some point. It happens to every officer. It is up to you to decide if it can be gained back.
#5 – Say Thank You
I cannot stress this point enough. You have to make sure your teammates know that you appreciate their work. We can’t hand out medals or awards for every task that is accomplished, but we can certainly say thank you. If you take the time to show your team that you really do appreciate their work, they will continue to perform. If you ignore their work, they will ignore you.
Photos courtesy of and copyrighted by Robert Simmons.
Find the complete series here!
Part 1: Introducing the Fire Service Leadership Continuum
Part 2: Becoming A Leader (The Pillars)
Part 3: Moving Into The Position
Part 4: Being The Leader
Part 5: Growing Future Leaders
Part 6: 360 Feedback (Putting It All Together)