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 suggests that if leaders want to
become the kind of leader that people want to follow, then they must settle the
issue of “servanthood.”

Do you have an attitude that you should be served rather than to serve? If yes, Maxwell recommends the following advice:

·         Stop lording over people, and start listening to them.

·         Stop role-playing for advancement, and start risking for others’ benefit.

·         Stop seeking your own way, and start serving others.

Maxwell believes that “If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest level.”

What’s your motivation for leading others? The badge? The control? I hope it’s the same reason we’re in the fire service to begin with, to “serve others.”

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Replies to This Discussion

Over the years I have learned a few principles that have helped me, and by using them I seem to have earned the respect of my crew as both a leader and a person, not just for the badge or rank.

* Be humble. If you accomplish something great, don't talk about it unless you feel it is something that will benefit others by your sharing, of if your crew brings up the topic. If they bring it up, discuss it, but try to keep your enthusiasm in check (don't gloat). I believe the 3 bullets listed above are all closely related to this philosophy.

* Give praise for a job well done. But, don't overdo it.

* Be honest. It was once said "It takes years to build credibility, but only seconds to destroy it." This is especially true in the fire service. If you make a mistake, which we all do, own up to it. Even if you are 100% positive you are correct, listen to the other side ... there have been times where I was dead sure that I was correct, but when I looked into it further, I was dead wrong.

* Administer discipline fairly. If you truly enjoy issuing formal discipline ("writing people up"), then maybe you are in your position for the wrong reasons. I see formal discipline as a "last resort", when all other means to correct a problem have failed. I see more effect from trying to correct the underlying problem rather than punish a person for a behavior. Yes, there are times where discipline is required regardless of any previous correction attempts (e.g., sexual harassment), but in most cases correcting the underlying problem will gain you more respect and make you a more effective leader than issuing formal discipline as a first-line resolution to the issue.

My motivation for leading others comprises of more than one item: the satisfaction of being able to keep order from becoming chaos, having the ability to help others improve and advance themselves in this career, and yes, to "serve others" ... including the employees I am supervising.
I definitely believe in the Servant Leader model. This does not mean that I don't like being the leader, or being in command. I have the commitment and attitude to lead, and spend a good portion of my free time in studying the skills of my profession. I have to practice my profession and owe my people the best skills of the profession, as well as the best leadership skills that I have. There LIVES depend on my skill, and that is a heavy burden for me.
yes Rebekah...adding value to people is key! I agree with all of you guys...I wish more of our leaders had this attitude...we have people in leadership positions who don't even know what leadership is. They spend most of their time trying to add value to themselves in stead of adding value to others!
Also...John C. Maxwell's last two books that I have read are awesome if anyone is looking for a good read!

Talent is Never Enough
Leadership Gold

Keep up the good work!
One statement speaks volumes:
"Sometimes his advice is very hard to take, but I have allowed him to lead me."
I started because I was fed up with the poor leadership of some others. I was complaining about poor decision making when my buddy said, if you don't like it, do something about it, so I did.
Mike: Sounds like the right stuff: "pass it on and bring them home!"
Man,that's it exactly.


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