Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here is a recent posed to leadership contributors from The Washington Post's "On Leadership" website:
One of the key findings the 2010 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey is that worker satisfaction is more profoundly affected by perceptions of top management than by their immediate supervisor. What lessons can top leaders in the public and private sector glean from this?
I found the following responses worthy of sharing:

Southwest Airline's exemplifies leaders at the top taking care of their people with astounding results. I created a Southwest Airlines case study as part of the "Blind Side" Leadership in Cinema lesson plan that leaders and managers may find helpful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Climbing the Leadership Ladder

Having been with the Leadership Subcommittee for nearly 10 years, I have had the opportunity to watch young firefighters move through the various levels of leadership--from humble follower to confident leaders of organizations. Those same individuals who once sat behind the agency representatives at Leadership Subcommittee meetings are now assuming positions as agency leaders and stewards of the Wildland Leadership Development Program (WFLDP).

I recall many a conversation with some of our more effective leaders. These same individuals who have lead the leadership charge and created the tools we have today assert their efforts are all in a good day's work. They do what they do for the betterment of the organization rather than for personal gratification. In fact, many never believed that they would hold the positions they now occupy.

My intent with this entry is to encourage all firefighters to invest in themselves with respect to leadership development. Do everything within your power to understand the leadership framework that exists within the WFLDP. You may only have aspirations of being a follower; but as I have stated in other posts, I believe we are all leaders--even if a leader of one. In addition, there may come a time when you need to step into a leadership position to save your life and that of another.

For those in leadership positions, take care of those under your charge. Determine what motivates your team and build an environment that supports the values and principles that we hold so dearly--duty, respect, and integrity. Provide a satisfying experience and safe environment for the follower to practice the art of being a leader. Small wins can build confidence and motivate far beyond scare tactics that come with a "hot seat."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Team that Could Save Your Life

"Fire leaders build cohesive teams--not simply groups of individuals putting forth individual efforts--to accomplish missions in high-risk environments." ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, 2007, p. 52)

Some of you who have taken Fireline Leadership ( L-380) or participated in our Professional Reading Program may have read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster where "six climbers from two expeditions died on the upper reaches of Everest when a storm caught them in the open. The decision making, situational awareness, communications, and risk management of the expedition leaders and other climbers were all links in the chain of disaster that overtook them." (WFLDP website)

I recently came upon a similar story and some great short clips from the Washington Post's On Leadership video website that leaders can use to brief crews and team members about the importance of cohesiveness, ethical dilemmas, and understanding your capabilities.

In "On Leadership: How 'the Savage Mountain' forged a leader," Professor Jim Clawson, University of Virginia, applies the lessons learned from Chris Warner's leadership while participating in one of the most successful climbs on K2.

"On Leadership: Building the team that could save your life" showcases Chris Warner speaking in his own words about his experience and leadership during the event.

Fire leaders can apply the lessons learned to building teams in the wildland fire environment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leadership Beyond the Office

A few months back I developed a crazy notion to further my professional development by heading back into the classroom--not at the role of instructor but as student. I took the challenge to be a student of fire seriously and enrolled in Boise State University's Instructional Performance Technology graduate program. I am now four weeks into my first course (Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology (IPT536) and have learned so much about myself and the Wildland Leadership Development Program in general.

I applaud all those who have contributed to the program. As I dig deeper into the foundations of what went into creating the curriculum and associated experiental learning tools, I more fully understand why students continue to provide positive feedback after attending courses.

Those who recognize the name Edward Lee Thorndike, educational psychologist, understand why the leadership curriculum produces results. Thorndike formulated three foundational principles of learning and teaching that are woven into the wildland fire leadership curriculum. The following descriptions were taken from "Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology" by Seung Youn Chyung.*

1. The law of effect. "An individual repeats responses that are followed by a satisfying effect, and tends not to repeat responses that are followed by an annoying state of affairs."

2. The law of readiness. "One should be ready to act in a certain way in order to take it as a satisfying effect; otherwise, having to act in that way would be considered an annoying effect."

3. The law of exercise. "To sustain the reaction ot a satisfying effect, it needs to be repeated."

Thorndike and others, like Ralph Tyler, strongly believed in a concept of "transferability of training." If you have taken a wildland fire leadership course, you quickly learn that most of the knowledge found in those courses are applicable to your job but can easily be transferred to situations outside the work environment. The transfer of knowledge to areas outside the classroom and work environment and into the personal life enhance the learning experience by creating relevance and fostering a more satisying effect.

Thorndike and those after him knew what they were talking about!

* Chung, Seun Youn. Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology. HRD Press, Inc. 2008.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Share Your Leadership Success Stories!

I would like to take a moment to thank all those who read, comment, and participate on the blog. Your support and encouragement are greatly appreciated. As facilitator of the blog, I made a personal commitment to try to provide at least two blogs per week--hoping that others of you in the field would provide blog topics for me to post. Rarely do I get a volunteer post. In most cases, I have to "encourage" authors to submit one or write one of my own or referring readers to another blog or article.

Other blogs and articles work, but our blog should be where we can come together as a wildland fire service to showcase our success stories such as those posted recently about North Zone Fire Management personnel from the Black Hills National Forest. We know you have stories to share, and we want to showcase them.

I challenge all wildland fire leaders across the globe reading this to contact me (Pam_McDonald@nifc.blm.gov) about your success stories, how you are implementing the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program, innovative ways to take the program forward, etc.

This is your program and your blog!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

North Zone Fire Leads by Example!

North Zone Fire Management of the Black Hills NF has completed 3 of 10 lesson plans for Leadership in Cinema as it pertains to the HBO movie series "Band of Brothers." Each module on the Zone accepted this leadership challenge back in May and have made great progress. Their goal is to have all 10 lesson plans completed and posted by November 2010.

Engine 381 Assistant Engine Captain Jamie Barnes requested the opportunity to facilitate the "Band of Brothers - Part 7: The Breaking Point." He delivered this lesson plan twice this past spring; once to fire personnel and a second time to District personnel from various resource functions. All involved came away with a great experience and positive feedback. Patrol 8 (Brandon Selk, Andrew Hostad, and Justin Colvin) followed up by developing and delivering "Band of Brothers - Part 5: Crossroads," and then the entire crew from Engine 381 (Tim Haas, Jamie Barnes, Cody Hines, David Riley and Dustin Kindred) developed and delivered "Band of Brothers - Part 10: Points."

North Zone fire personnel have definitely stepped up to the challenge and continue to pursue excellence in leadership and self-devlopment. Stay posted for the remaining mini series parts to be posted. If you have never watched this series, it is definitely a must see and very impressionable on leaders when you facilitate it with a lesson plan.

Randy Skelton, Division Chief
North Zone Fire Management
Black Hills National Forest