Tuesday, March 30, 2010

L-480 Participants in Action

Wildland fire leaders from across the nation converged upon NIFC to participate in L-480 (Organizational Leadership in the Wildland Fire Service) this week.

L-480 provides future Incident Management Team leaders (Command and General Staff) with the leadership tools to provide strategic direction and influence others to achieve team goals. The course is designed to develop personal leadership skills and command presence in order to increase effectiveness in the dynamic incident management setting.

Curt Braun sharing his knowledge with participants.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Attila the Hun and Your Leadership Journey

If you have taken Followership to Leadership (L-280), you should have read Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts, Ph.D. A selection from the "Wildland Fire Book on Books," Roberts' book “provides practical advice about developing leadership skills over a lifetime and the young leader’s personal responsibility to start this process early.”

The IdeaBridge White Paper Series: Leadership Methods of Ancient Warriors" adapts the information found in Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun to a business framework and context and may help "the first time leader/supervisor to understand the privilege and responsibility of becoming a leader."

The IdeaBridge website hosts a large variety of quick-read white papers related to leadership and other business topics that lifelong students of fire can incorporate into their leadership self-development plans.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“You Must Know How to Follow Before You Can Lead”

One of the most important aspects of being an effective leader is to be a good follower. So, what is effective followership and how does one go about developing the skills needed to be a good follower?

The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) curriculum path provides leadership skills training at all stages of an individuals career, including followership. Human Factors on the Fireline (L-180) is the first course wildland firefighters take in preparation to follow. Followership to Leadership (L-280) builds upon L-180 and provides a self-assessment opportunity for individuals preparing to step into a leadership role. For more detailed information regarding the L-curriculum visit http://www.fireleadership.gov/courses/courses.html.

One of the program components of the WFLDP is "non-traditional leadership development opportunities that allow individuals to strive for a higher performance level as a leader through self-directed continuous learning." This holds true for followers as well. To begin your self-directed journey, the GovLeaders.org site (http://govleaders.org/follow.htm) a good source for articles related to effective followership. You will notice that the articles are not specific to wildland firefighting; however, benchmarking other organizations provides great opportunity for growth. Read with an intent to find the nuggets of information that you can apply to your situation as a follower in the wildland fire service.

In addition to reading these articles, I challenge every firefighter to obtain a copy of Leading in the Wildland Fire Service. Pay particular attention to “Leading Up” on pages 48 – 50. An electronic version of the publication can be found at http://www.fireleadership.gov/documents/LeadingWFS_Pub.pdf.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tools for "Good is Great"

If you are a participant in the WFLDP's Professional Reading Program, you may have read Jim Collin’s Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't. If you have read or plan to read this selection from the “Wildland Fire Book on Books,” you may want to check out a couple of tools that Collins has created and placed on his website (http://www.jimcollins.com/tools.html) to apply the principles found in the book. The following links are great tools for facilitating small group discussions:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Challenges to Educating the Next Generation of Wildland Fire Professionals in the United States

The Journal of Forestry, October/November 2009, featured an article titled "Challenges to Educating the Next Generation of Wildland Fire Professionals in the United States" written by Leda N. Kobziar, Monique E. Rocca, Christopher A. Dicus, Chad Hoffman, Neil Sugihara, Andrea E. Thode, J. Morgan Varner, and Penelope Morgan.

Abstract: Over the last 20 years, the duties of US fire professionals have become more complex and risk laden because of fuel load accumulation, climate change, and the increasing wildland–urban interface. Incorporation of fire use and ecological principles into fire management policies has further expanded the range of expertise and knowledge required of fire professionals. The educational and training systems that produce these professionals, however, have been slow to organize an updated and coordinated approach to preparing future practitioners. Consequently, aspiring fire professionals face numerous challenges related to scheduling conflicts, limited higher education programs in fire science, lack of coordination between fire training and higher education entities, and the overall difficulty of obtaining education and training without sacrificing experience. Here, we address these and other challenges with potential solutions and outline the first steps toward their implementation. We organize the necessary aspects of professional fire preparation into a representative model: a fire professional development triangle comprised of education, training, and experience. For each of these aspects, we suggest changes that can be made by employers, educators, and nongovernmental organizations to provide a more streamlined mechanism for preparing the next generation of wildland fire professionals in the United States.

Wildland fire leaders are encouraged to read the complete article which is available for download at: http://saf.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/saf/jof/2009/00000107/00000007/art00005

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leadership Development - A Personal Responsibility

The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) supports the position that the majority of leaders are made, not born. Here’s an excerpt from page 60 of Leading in the Wildland Fire Service. The publication is available online at http://www.fireleadership.gov/documents/LeadingWFS_Pub.pdf.

Our perspective is that leaders are made, not born. The distribution of innate leadership traits in the wildland fire workforce is similar to the normal Bell Curve distribution for any set of traits in any population. A small percentage of people are natural leaders, possessing the character and traits that compel others to follow them. Another small percentage have character flaws or issues that would prevent them from ever becoming effective leaders.

Most people—the vast majority—do not come to the job as natural leaders, yet they have the ability to become very effective leaders by working to develop their leadership skills.

The wildland fire service cannot be successful depending on that small percentage of natural leaders. As a result, we accept the responsibility of making ourselves the best leaders that we can be, continuously embracing opportunities to learn the art of leadership through formal training, field experience, and self-development. The best leaders are life-long students of leadership.

Whether you are a leader of one or a leader of others, students of fire are lifelong learners who accept the responsibility to be the best leaders they can be. Even if you cannot attend formal leadership courses, the WFLDP Leadership Toolbox (http://www.fireleadership.gov/toolbox/toolbox.html) hosts a variety of self-development leadership tools.

We want to hear from you. If you have a leadership self-development idea or suggestion, submit it to leadership_feedback@nifc.blm.gov.