Monday, August 15, 2011

When No One is Watching

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. - Helen Keller

When I'm not working, I do a tremendous amount of volunteer work. There have been times when I took on a little too much and neglected self. Recently when I felt a bit overwhelmed, a friend told me, "we love you for who you are, not what you do." She was referring to my intangible attibutes: character.

Character, according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, is defined as "one of the attributes of features that make up and distinguish an individual." Leadership experts differ on what makes up leadership character but most refer to one's values and principles.

As found in Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, "Character is the foundation of command presence. All people reveal their character in every interaction, and character shapes and permeates a leader's command presence."

If you are like me, your values and principles change as you experience life. Are you the same person when you are alone as when others are watching? Do others see the "real" you.

So what does right look like as a wildland fire leader? Leading in the Wildland Fire Service and our Values and Principles provide insight for our leaders. Like a fingerprint, character is unique to each individual. What you deem right may not be exactly what another deems right. However, this publication provides the basis from which all fire leaders can develop. If you are a wildland fire leader and don't have a copy of this publication, download it today.

In January, I brought you the leadership series "Leading in the VUCA Environment" by Col. Eric Kail, course director of military leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Col. Kail has a new six-part series on the Washington Post's blog titled "Leadership Character." Take a moment to read what Col. Kail has to say about leadership character. Here are links to the first half of his series. As others become available, I will provide the links.

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