Growing Future Leaders
Now that we have progressed into being respected leaders in our organization, we must look to leave a legacy behind. After reading this series, you have all learned that I am a big fan of John C. Maxwell. One of my favorite quotes from Maxwell is “you’ve got to love your people more than you love your position.”
This is a powerful statement that paints a clear picture on what we must do when we prepare to move on to the next leadership position. As we come back to the beginning of the continuum for a new leadership journey, we must love our people enough to teach them what we have learned.
Keeping this in mind, we have to remember what we did to become leaders. If you recall, the three pillars of becoming a leader are experience, training and education. This is what we must give to our team to prepare them for leadership.
We must give them the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a leader. Give them leadership tasks and let them learn from those experiences. If you are a company officer, let one of your firefighters ride in the officer’s seat once in a while, and you ride in the back seat. This will give them valuable experience and still let them have you there to help them out. Never pass up an opportunity to give your team some experience.
We must train them. As a leader, this is one of the most important tasks we have. We must train our team. Not doing so is a failure on our part. I would wager that everyone reading this understands the importance of fire ground training. However, as leaders, we would be remiss if we neglected to train future leaders in administrative tasks such as computer skills and evaluating performance.
Finally, we must encourage our people to seek education and support them in doing so. As a company officer, I was very lucky to have a college campus next door to my station. I made sure my people knew that they could and should spend some time there. It was not unusual to see our engine parked outside.
This point in the continuum is where we pass the torch. One of the best analogies of this step is a hand-off in a big football game. You can have the best quarterback leading the team and the best running back prepared to take the ball, but if they mess up the hand-off they will fail to lead the team to victory.
As leaders, we must ensure we execute the hand-off to the next generation. Our lasting value as leaders will be measured by those who carry the football after we are gone.
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)