A Wasteland of Leadership Resources

There is an inherent problem with fire service leadership articles and it may not be glaringly obvious. Leadership articles are a dime-a-dozen. It’s difficult to scroll firefighting related websites and blog pages without seeing at least a few data-dumps on how to be an effective leader.

3853720_origThe reason so many contributors and bloggers write about this topic is because it is literally the foundation of a properly functioning, happy fire station. If you are a company officer or an aspiring one, I am here to help you sort through the swampy wasteland of leadership resources and to provide some intervention.

The vast amount of online resources for leadership is a great thing to have at your fingertips. There are numerous leadership videos on YouTube and countless fire service articles. Nearly every fire officer has his or her own philosophy on leadership.

With so much great leadership content, where is the problem? I am here to saDBFFlashbackPosty, the problem is you! Allow me to help you come to terms with this.

The main issue with all of the available leadership advice is one of application. We can learn a lot from reading articles and listening to lectures, but taking these lessons and actually applying the information to your current leadership style is an entirely different story.

It’s fair to say that most of us gain our leadership skills from our predecessors, some are said-to-be born with it, others are affected by there inherited psychological base. No matter which category you think you belong in, the leadership tools available are only as good as the open-mind deploying those resources into action.

Leadership resources are not just gee-whiz-bang things on the Internet; they are quite literally a call to action. That means “work”… or as physicians call it…”practice.” Failing to actively practice the lessons given by leadership tools creates a swampy wasteland of under-utilized resources.

On the level, there isn’t an article you will read that will make you a great fire officer, or for that4417851_orig matter an effective leader. The articles are merely tools by which you gain knowledge and make the conscious choice to employ that information within your crew or shift.

In the end, basic leadership boils down to being approachable, adaptable, having a positive outlook on every situation, giving common respect to those you supervise, setting the example, and remaining calm and cool especially with tone of voice. We all breathe the same air and bleed the same blood, without common respect on a human level, there can’t possibly exist effective leadership.

Take pride in your leadership education, be honest with yourself, and obtain anonymous feedback from your firefighters. Reflect and ask yourself what kind of leader you want to be? How do you want your firefighters to see you or remember you? Most importantly, what leadership traits do you want them to absorb from you and carry to the next 5325190_origgeneration?

If your station morale is low or your firefighters are fearful of you, the problem is not them. If you are reading fire service leadership articles and then going about your day as if nothing has changed, the problem is you.

About Jon Marr 11 Articles
Jon Marr is a 16-year fire service veteran originally from the Rhode Island area. Jon is a Station Captain with the Area Support Group Kuwait Fire Department where he has been employed as a Fire Officer for the last 7-years. Prior to Kuwait, Jon worked as a Fire Lieutenant in Baghdad as well as 3 years with the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll Fire Department in support of the U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command and 3 years working for AMR Seattle. Jon is a certified Fire Officer III, Fire Instructor II, Haz-Mat Tech/IC, holds a Bachelors degree in Fire Administration from Waldorf College and has been an EMT-B for 15 years. He is married with a 4 year-old son. Jon is a firm believer in maintaining a healthy balance of pride, tradition, and safety within the fire service.

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