Putting It All Together
Welcome to the final article in the series discussing the Fire Service Leadership Continuum. In this article, we are closing the loop. However, this is not where we stop. The continuum is not a series of independent parts that can begin and end without the others. When we close the loop, we simply begin to prepare for the next leadership step.
This may be moving from a senior firefighter to a company officer, or from a company officer to a chief officer. Whatever the next step is, we can continue to apply the steps in the continuum to get us there.
Feedback Is The Key
The four steps in the continuum are linked by a central item. Feedback is key in every step of the continuum. As we progress through the continuum, we must hone our ability to give and receive feedback. Without it, we have no way of knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are. Honest feedback is the only way to gain this knowledge.
In Step 1, we work on becoming the leader. In this step in the continuum, we learn that we have to develop our knowledge, skills and abilities. This is where we must solicit feedback from those who lead us. Their feedback here gives us a clear picture of where we stand in our training, education and experience.
Step 2 is where we move into the leadership position. The most important feedback here is the feedback we provide to and receive from those we are expected to lead. As we move into the leadership position, we provide our team with our expectations and they provide us with their expectations. This feedback is of paramount importance as we move into the position. Make sure your team knows what you expect, and pay attention to what your team needs!
In Step 3, we are being the leader our team needs. At this point, feedback from subordinates, peers, and leaders will give you the information you need to effectively lead your team. We must constantly assess where we are excelling and where we need to improve. The only way to do this is to gather feedback.
In the final step, we are preparing future leaders to move into their roles as leaders. All of the feedback we have received as we progressed through the continuum can now be used to guide others into leadership. At this point in the continuum, our ability to provide good feedback is essential. I like to use the “positive sandwich” approach to providing feedback. Tell the future leader what they are doing good, tell them where to improve, and close with another positive point.
Feedback can come from any number of places, so we must not limit ourselves in seeking feedback. Knowledge is power, so seek as much feedback as you can. Doing so makes us stronger leaders and guides us through the continuum.
Remember, the leadership journey never ends. Leaders never stop improving!
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)