What kind of Leader do you want to be?

In my 18 years in the fire service I have learned a lot of useful information. I had no formal leadership training yet made my way through the ranks to Captain. With that being said, I learned by observing what others did to learn what to do and most importantly what not to do. I remember my first Capt. lets call him Bill. He was a large burly guy who came across as a knowledgeable yet forceful fellow. At the Firehouse he could be laughing and joking one minute and the next his face was red and he was yelling and cussing. He seemed to have an anger issue not only with fellow firefighters but with the public as well. I learned a lot from him. What not to do of course. I have worked many of shifts with different Captains and Chiefs over the years and I take credit for the role I am in today because of it.
As firefighters especially career based, we not only work together but live together as well. I tell my new rookies its similar to a marriage where each person has to adapt to the others. Unlike an assembly line worker who you work with daily, punch the clock and go home we seem to share our good times and bad times with each other and know a little bit more about each others personal lives. In a sense that's what makes us close. The problems I see and have faced seem to be when a Captain or Officer in charge wants everything his/her way with no regard for the others around them. They need to remember that its called a crew for a reason. Do not bring your personal pet peeves or differences and force them on your subordinates. Let everyone have a say in your activities, training, inspections, etc. Don't feel like you will be viewed as weak for this, because in the long run you will be respected more, earned respect. Not only will you be respected for your rank but most importantly you as a person.
How many times have you had to respect a rank but not the person filling the position? How many times have you been in the presence of someone which you felt like respect was demanded? Ask yourself these questions and always be tuned in to others feelings. Call it a Crew, a Team or call it Family because that's what it is. What kind of leader do you want to be? I have made my decision.
Stay Safe

Capt. Mike Walker
Little Rock Fire Dept.
Engine 14

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Comment by Jason Hoevelmann on September 29, 2009 at 9:55pm
Well said. I like the part about input. Something I learned is that as a Captain or shift officer, when you sit down to plan that day, include your crew. They will appreciate the attempt to fit everyone's needs and ideas in if applicable. It gives them some ownership of that day and I also found that it helps keep them on task because they know when inspections are done, they move on to their need or want. This is obviously not going to work every shift day, but including them goes a long way with that "respect" you speak of.

Again, nice words of wisdom.

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