A forum to explore the fundamental questions about leadership: why talk about leadership, what is leadership, what is a leader, how are leaders developed, what turns understanding into action leadership, and how can leaders make a difference?

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Firefighter Forum, Rescue & EMS Discussion

What’s your motivation for leading others?

Started by Billy Schmidt. Last reply by Chris Weber Feb 22, 2011. 9 Replies

John Maxwell, in his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, asks why people desire to become a leader. For the perks or the benefits? Or are they motivated by a desire to help others? He…Continue

Tags: servanthood, follower, followership, leaders, leadership

Good read on the leadership of Bees!

Started by Justin Lewis. Last reply by Billy Schmidt Sep 10, 2010. 1 Reply


Tags: training, motivation, leadership

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Comment by Paul Strong on December 26, 2013 at 10:42pm

Leadership is the ability to influence others as a result of a process of personal growth cultivated through consistent and humble actions. Captain Paul Strong

Comment by John Staley on April 25, 2012 at 5:59pm


great forum. Shortly after I became a chief officer I attended a seminar on leadership given by a former Navy Captian, Michael Abrashoff. He wrote a book called "It's your Ship" I have to say  it is one of the few leadership books that has examples applicable to the fire service, and it was an enjoyable read. Keep up the great work Al, the fire service will always need good leaders.`

Comment by Al Mozingo on August 24, 2011 at 6:44pm
K. Doerksen #23,

Thanks for the kind comments.

Comment by Al Mozingo on August 24, 2011 at 12:40pm
By Al Mozingo


The leadership that one provides an organization, group or team is either effective or non-effective. This effectiveness is dependent upon the skills, knowledge, and abilities (SKA’s) of the leader. How are these SKA’s developed? They are learned. A leader learns from books and seminars, but they also learn from experiences is life, their education, work, and a multitude of other experiences. I want to focus on the educational aspect. There are a number of factors that can help one to become an outstanding leader, or a “Five Star Leader.”

The mastery of the SKA’s is what one needs to strive for to become an effective leader. The below items are those that will assist you to become a “Five Star Leader.” Once this below material is internalized you need to put it into action. For leaders actions are more forceful that words at times.
Five Star Leadership
• Change Maker
• Knowledgeable
• Team Building
• Expectations
• Motivating
• Accountability

Change Maker

A leader is one who makes things happen. A leader is not happy with the status quo or mediocrity. Being a change maker means one is not afraid to try something different and is a risk taker. A leader will strive for improvement and will promote change. A “Five Star Leader” welcomes new challenges and innovative, creative ways of doing things.


A leader needs to develop a high degree of knowledge to do the job effectively. There are a number of elements, of leadership that needs to be addressed, below are a few:

Job Expertise
Administrative Ability
High Morale Values
Interpersonal Skills
Able to Listen
Communicate Effectively
Open to Change
Goal Setting
High Energy

Team Building

A leader helps to develop a good working team. A leader gets things done through others. Therefore, a leader needs to pay close attention to team work. Working with people you must also pay close attention to their needs and meet those needs. You must also understand what motivates people. At the same time you are getting them to understand the team’s needs. Giving people responsibility, providing training, providing resources to do the job, and using positive reinforcement will help develop an effective team. As a “Five Star Leader” you need to strive for a collaborative atmosphere.


A leader must establish the expectations with the team. Everyone must know what is expected of them, to accomplish their task/job/etc. Many people will strive to meet expectations. If the leader gives a little encouragement your people may even exceed your expectations. If delegating to someone remembers it is not the same as assigning work. In delegation a leader actually passes on some responsibility of the job to another. The leader must communicate the task/job to a person and actually have that person accept the responsibility. Then there should be a discussion about the limits of the responsibility, a time table for completion, and the resources that are available to accomplish the task/job. Remember to strive in matching the appropriate person with the task/job at hand for success.


A leader needs to know how to motivate others. Understand to motivate another is to help them meet their needs. Add enthusiasm when interacting with your people will help with motivation. Give out tasks/jobs that you pretty much know are going to be accomplished successfully. If a person is successful it helps build confidence and allows the person to grow (SKA’s). Giving responsibility will help motivate many people. Make sure everyone knows the vision, mission, and purpose, for the team.


A leader supervises people when in the leadership role. This means people are being held accountable for the results of what they do. Therefore, as a leader keep in mind on the outcome of the job at hand. To hold people accountable a leader needs to monitor the progress in some way. The usual methods of monitoring progress are: meetings, oral reports, or written reports. As a “Five Star Leader” you need to hold your people accountable for high quality results. By holding people accountable it actually helps morale also.

Final Remarks

A “Five Star Leader” needs to pay close attention to the above six items that have been addressed. These are very important elements of any leader’s skills, knowledge, and abilities. We all need to strive to become the best we can be. There are many methods of obtain knowledge in this subject area. For instance reading leadership books or taking a leadership class is a good start.

Good luck in you endeavors to gain more insight, understanding, and knowledge in an important subject!

About the Author

Al Mozingo is nationally recognized leadership instructor. He has developed two college workshops entitled “Basic Leadership” and “Advanced Leadership.” If you would like to obtain one of these courses of instruction for your organization contact Al Mozingo at: (619) 447-2828 or
Comment by K. Doerksen #23 on August 23, 2011 at 11:57pm
Thank You Mr. Mozingo for adding such comments and advice on Leadership.

I am a passionate, eager to learn firefighter of 4 years and am worried that the precious commodity of leadership is somewhat lost in today's fire service.

In my experience, somewhere between the generations a gap has been created and it seems that it is getting harder and harder to find these "leaders".

This has not been a new topic, it seems, in the last 10 years or so, but it is definitely getting worse as the years go by.

I am hoping to hear more comments and articles from you as I feel that they are extremely beneficial in such a time of need.

Thanks again for your dedication to the fire service and the time you put into leadership.
Comment by Al Mozingo on February 15, 2011 at 5:16pm

By Al Mozingo

Each of us who accepts the responsibility of becoming a leader; must have the desire to do our best in that capacity. Whether we are in a formal or informal leadership role it requires our best. We need to strive for excellence. We need to have a drive for continual education. We all need to learn how to effectively lead others. We all want to make a difference. We need to "Walk the Talk." In other words we need to create a WOW Situation.

A Wow is considered by Tom Peters the primary basis for evaluating the quality of things. It is when you or someone else feels really good about what is occurring. As a matter fact it may even go beyond that aspect, to where you consider what is happening as great or fantastic. This is something that we may not really be used to, but we can become used to it.

The question may be: How do we do this?

Below are a series of statements that relate to management techniques, leadership principles, developing the vision, people oriented stuff, total quality management (TQM) stuff, and paradigm change material. All we have to do is start making that change and add a little common sense with it. Take these statements to heart, assimilate them into your personality and behavior.

• Smiling helps diffuse a lot of anger
• Create a trusting environment
• Keep high ethics, be a person of high integrity
• Praise people often, use positive reinforcement
• Reward people based on accomplishments
• Keep interpersonal relations as a high priority
• Show a willingness to go an extra mile
• Lead by example
• Don't embarrass people in public
• Be involved and committed
• Always strive to acquire new skills
• Keep people informed, communicate often
• Provide support to others
• Developing others is a high priority
• Be action-oriented, get things done
• Show your feeling and emotions occasionally
• Laughter helps when you've made a mistake

The above listing of tenets should be used to be a good and effective leader. They are indeed something we have to incorporate in our behavior to become an effective leader. There are a few other items we may want to consider to help us with our attitude. I'll call it an attitude adjustment. Below are some guidelines to help us with this attitude adjustment:

• Remember that change is normal
• Change is simple, just do it
• Determination is a must for a leader
• Sometimes there are no good answers
• People are our most important asset
• Learn to hold your tongue
• Build bridges, always resolve conflicts
• Take time out for fun and renewal
• Respect other people
• Trust and care about others
• Stay out of people's personal lives
• Remember that people come first
• Always have an affinity for the truth
• As a leader remember, "Servant Leadership"
• Walk the Talk - this is imperative

To summarize, I will present a quote from Tom Peters;
"T-R-U-S-T It's the single most important contribution to the maintenance of human relationships." It is our ability to relate to people, our interpersonal skills, our emotional intelligence and our communications skills that will allow us to be effective leaders. Adhering to the above leadership principles is a very good start. If you treat people with respect and consideration, if you communicate and develop a trusting caring environment, if you are sincere when you ask for input and participation, you may just create a WOW Situation from time to time with your people.

Reference: Tom Peters, The Pursuit of WOW!,
Vintage Books, 1994, New York.
Comment by Al Mozingo on May 15, 2010 at 10:47am
Obtain Training

Al Mozingo -

After writting numerous articles and a couple of books on leadership I have found leadership is something most people have to work at. A really important step is to obtain leadership training to assist you in this endevour.

Benefits and Outcomes

The following are the benefits and outcomes of the above leadership training programs:

1. Development of leadership insights.
2. Improvement of communication skills.
3. Ability to build a team.
4. Improved interpersonal skills.
5. Increased critical thinking skills.
6. Increase conflict management abilities.
7. Ability to apply ethical decision making.
8. Understanding the role of a leader.
9. Personal growth as a leader.
10. Confidence in strategic thinking.
11. Insight into the challenge of leadership.
12. Understanding the importance of a vision.
13. Learning how to influence others.
14. Understanding the importance of empowerment.
15. Understanding of situational leadership.
16. Understanding the servant leadership style.
17. Enhancing your personal philosophy of leadership.
18. Developing the ability to lead change.
19. Increasing your perspective and empathy.
20. Developing awareness of personal core values.
21. Differentiating between facts and assumptions.
22. Understanding characteristics of great leaders.
23. Exemplary practices of leaders.
24. Learning how to motivate others.
25. Development of a personal leadership plan.

Good Luck!
Comment by Leland Lavender on May 15, 2010 at 1:31am
Abe says it like this.

"If I have 8 Hours to cut down a tree... I'll spend 6 hours sharpening my axe"
Comment by Al Mozingo on February 22, 2010 at 10:05am

By Al Mozingo


The principles of leadership can be taught to a student of leadership in many different formats. One can study the characteristics of a great leader or study the behavior and actions of other great leaders. To take a class, read a book, attend a seminar, or read an article about the subject matter are other methods of gaining knowledge and insight into the leadership.

This particular article will describe leadership principles in a different way. It will present a story to show pragmatically the lessons of the principles of leadership. Putting the principles into actual practical use, by one’s own action, is where the “tire meets the road.” This little story was in a book entitled, Virtues of Leadership, by William J. Bennett.

The Story
In January 1956, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., left his home to attend a meeting at a nearby church. During the meeting someone came into the church with news for King; “Your home has been bombed.” Rev. King upset and anxious, especially because his wife and baby were in the house at the time of the bombing in Montgomery, Alabama.

As King rushed home, he found a large number of people in the house. The bomb had actually exploded on his front porch raining glass into the living room. After checking on his wife and daughter he turn attention to the angry crowd.

People who gathered outside of the house wanted revenge against whoever had done this terrible act. Some of them were actually carrying guns and were shouting at the police. The situation was about to turn to chaos and become violent. He told the crowd in a calm voice that his wife and child were fine.

Silence had fallen over the crowd as he began to speak to them. He indicated to the crowd that violence was not the answer. He explained that violence would harm their cause, it would not solve their problems. As of matter of fact, it would make it worst. He indicated that the teachings of the Bible: “We must meet hate with love.” He told them, to put down their weapons and to go home.

The crowd’s demeanor started to change. People began to become calm and some said “Amen” and others said “God Bless You.” At a moment of chaos and anger, Rev. King seized the moment to show true leadership. The crowd responded to this and started to drift apart and go home. As events unfolded, photographs were being taken and the next morning newspapers across the country ran the photos on the front page. The Civil Rights Movement began to swell; this was a turning point in history! Under pressure a great man put personal virtues into action in the form of true leadership.

Leadership Virtues
Rev. King’s virtues included courage, wisdom, and faith. He had a certain vision and the talent to progress that vision forward with leadership. His virtues also included compassion, perseverance, and faith. We all should strive to have these virtues, character and traits as our own. These virtues will allow us to operate with a calm clear mind under pressure. They will assist in guiding us in areas of moral and ethical situations. One of the great principles of leadership is ones own character. The virtues Rev. Kind exhibited that day were:

· Courage

· Wisdom

· Faith

· Vision

· Compassion

· Perseverance

· Faith


William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues, W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, In., Nashville, Tennessee, 2001

About the Author

Al Mozingo is a nationally recognized leadership instructor and a 30-year veteran of the Fire Service. Mr. Mozingo’s teaches for the National Fire Academy, State Fire Training, and Local Fire Academy. He has a wide range of programs available. You can contact him to present a leadership program at your location today: or (619) 447-2828
Comment by steve crump on October 25, 2009 at 2:33pm
If you get the chance, check out these leadership books.
Fred Factor
The Servant Leader
QBQ, the question behind the question
I think they should be standard reading for officers, but thats my opinion

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