Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who's Got Your Back?

"Ready, set, go!" Whether you are a quarterback or a wildland fire leader, effectively leading your team can be the difference between a safe assignment or a career-ending event.

I recently completed a lesson plan about The Blind Side for the Leadership in Cinema (LinC) program. The Blind Side is based upon the real-life story of Michael Oher. One of Memphis' wealthiest families, the Tuohy family, comes to the aid of a member of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the nation: Hurt Village. Michael was a child who seemed invisible to the outside world. The Touhy's gave Michael the opportunity to break free from a life that showed little chance of success to one where anything was possible--including the life of a professional athlete.

The movie gives wildland fire leaders a visual representation of our Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles in action--especially those of respect and integrity.

Respect: "To gain respect from our people, we first respect them. Leaders demonstrate respect for our people in many ways: by getting to know them, by looking out for their well-being, by keeping them informed, by putting forth the effort to build strong teams, and by employing them in accordance with their capabilities." (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 45)

Integrity ~ Knowing Ourselves and Seeking Improvement: "The starting point for leadership development is self-awareness. In many ways, our greatest challenge is to know ourselves. Self-awareness is an inward application of situation awareness. Fire leaders have an inner drive to analyze and know ourselves. We probe our blind spots and come away resolved to improve ourselves. We honestly appraise our own strengths and weaknesses." (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 59)

Just as the Tuohy's gave Micheal opportunities that he might not have had, wildland fire leaders owe the same respect to their followers. In return, followers owe their leaders the same respect to protect their leader's blind sides.

The lesson plan provides a wide variety of resources aimed at helping individuals expose their blind spots. Specific emphasis is also placed on the importance of leaders valuing their subordinates. A Southwest Airlines case study is included as premier example of leaders taking care of their people.

No comments: