Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mars - Dead or Alive

NOVA's presentation of "Mars-Dead or Alive" follows the Mars Exploration Rover (MER)Project. A lesson plan has been developed for the Leadership is Cinema program to accompany the video as well as to facilitate discussion about high reliability organizations (HROs).

Applying lessons learned from other HROs can greatly enhance similar situations found within the wildland fire service.

Photo credit: NASA

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Behind the Holiday


In preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, and having just returned from the hallowed fields of Gettysburg, I thought that I would honor the history behind this most decorated day.

According to History.com, Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originated to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service--most specifically those Union and Conferate soldiers who gave their lives during the American Civil War.

The further we get away from our history, the more we forget its origin. Without research, I would have gone on believing that Memorial Day, beyond the holiday, was to respect those who have died--regardless of their military service.

Having just walked the hallowed fields of Gettysburg, I know that this Memorial Day will include a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who believed so passionately that this country should remain united.

As I bid "lights out" on this blog entry, I present a link to the history of "Taps."

***Photo credit: Nicole Hallisey, NIFC

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our First Honor

The WFLDP blog was recently recognized as one of "The 45 Best Fire Science Blogs" by Fire Science Degree - Guide to Schools Offering Fire Science Degrees.

A very special thanks to Frank and Sally Davison for bestowing this honor upon the blog and its contributors.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Miracle of Managing Egos


Those of you familiar with the Leadership in Cinema program have probably used John Wood's lesson plan for the movie "Miracle."

Jim Craig, goaltender on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, has written Gold Medal Strategies about the team's journey to capture the gold medal with a focus on managing through ego and conflict.

Leadership Now recently posted a short blurb about the book on "LeadingBlog."

Has anyone read the book? Would anyone like to be a part of a virtual book club to read the book together? Together we can potentially add another book to the "Professional Reading Program". Let us know what you think.

Jim Craig's "Gold Medal Strategies" website has a library of short leadership video clips that may be useful when discussing this concept with your crew.

Additional Resource:
"Leading from Within Means Learning to Manage Your Ego and Emotions," Knowledge@Wharton

Note of apology: Many of the videos are located on YouTube.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Lifetime of Achievement - Bud Moore

Bud Moore may not mean much to the new generation firefighter, but his legacy in wildland fire transformed the world of fire. A former Director of Fire and Aviation in the USFS Northern Region, Bud Moore was influential in transforming fire management policies, including prescribed fire.

Bud Moore passed away in November 2010 at the age of 93 after a lifetime of dedication to forestry and conservation. The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee recognized Moore posthumously by presenting his family with a lifetime achievement Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. Bill Miller, NWCG Leadership Subcommittee advisor, presented the award at the 11th Wildland Fire Safety Summit held in Missoula, MT, April 2011. The transcript of the presentation can be found on the WFLDP website.

Other Resources:

"Remembering Bud Moore" by Alex Sakariassen. Missoula Independent. December 2, 2010.

Bud Moore Memorial website

US Forest Service Bud Moore Memorial website

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Hallowed Ground



"Buy 'em books and buy 'em books, and all they do is chew off the covers." This was a common cry from Mr. Delmar Hardy, my junior high school history teacher. Why is it that I remember his quote, yet I didn't retain the significant historical events that he presented? Standing upon the hallowed battlegrounds of Gettysburg approximately 35 years later and some 150 years after the Civil War began, I became acutely aware of how important understanding our past is to shaping our future.

For three days, wildland fire leaders from various National Interagency Management Organizations (NIMOs), the Geographic Area Training Representatives (GATRs), the Operations and Workforce Development Committee (OWDC), the Leadership Subcommittee (LSC), various Incident Managment Teams (IMTs) and Fire Department New York (FDNY) led by subject matter experts from the military and wildland fire service walked the paths of Civil War leaders of the past, analyzed and synthesized key decisions, and gained knowledge that can be easily transferred for use during future incidents.

The Leadership is Action - Gettysburg Staff Ride was one of the most effective leadership educational events of my career. To experience this with members of my Leadership Subcommittee team was incredible and worth every minute of the time I put in prior to the event. What emerged from three days on the battlefields around Gettysburg, PA, is truly inspiring and will benefit the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program for many years to come.

I challenge leaders who participated in the event to contribute their thoughts regarding the staff ride.
  • What Gettysburg leader of the past inspired your future actions?
  • What leadership traits do you inspire to possess or strengthen?

A special thanks goes out to all who helped make this educational event such a success including, but not limited to, Curtis Heaton, Gladys Ross, Brent Spencer, Deborah Corner, OMNA International, LLC and L3.

Civil War resources:


*Photo credits: Jim Cook (LSC Chairman) and OMNA International, LLC.


    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Thomas Taylor Recognized

    The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee recognized Thomas Taylor, District Fire Crew Squad Boss, Darrington Ranger District, Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest, US Forest Service, as winner of the 2010 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for initiative and innovation.

    Here is an excerpt from his award citation letter:

    "Taylor has a track record of contributing to the greater good of the wildland fire service. He co-authored a presentation in the 2010 Annual Refresher Video, as well as developed a new reference covering the use and troubleshooting of Mark 3 pumps in the 2010 Incident Response Pocket Guide. Taylor endured two near-miss entrapment experiences, which triggered him to choose a path of duty, respect and integrity and apply his lessons learned to the wildland fire service. His new path included involvement in regional and national training efforts in some very unique venues, including annual refresher training and staff rides. He has influenced hundreds of coworkers and tens of thousands of firefighters with his national efforts."

    Congratulations on your achievement, Thomas!

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    New Frontiers

    "It is not worrying who gets the credit as long as the objective is
    achieved, sometimes leading from behind, letting others lead at times,developing respect but not fear, and keeping communication and involvement a part of the leadership equation." ~ Chuck Bell
    I came across an article on my desk that I had stuffed into a someday-I'll-blog-about-this folder on my desk. "Leadership Lessons from Lewis and Clark" was written by Chuck Bell, President of Learning Disguised as Fun, and printed in Ohio State University's Leadership Link. The link to the publication has since been removed, but I'll share reasons why, according to Bell, Lewis and Clark's "co-leadership" strategy worked and can easily become success in wildland fire.

    Here are excerpts from Bell's article:

    Common Vision
    • "There was a common vision and goal.
    • Lewis and Clark considered themselves equal and a team.
    • They complemented each other in their skills and experience, and accepted this.
    • They accepted each others' decisions without challenge and showed trust and teamwork by example to the rest of the party.
    • Lewis and Clark divided responsibilities according to their individual strengths and skills.

    Involving the Team

    • Lewis and Clark used involvement of the party effectively from the start.
    • They were consistent in discipline, following through on expectations of the time, treating each person firmly, but fairly.
    • Lewis and Clark cared about those in the party.
    • The captains did not expect others to do what they would not do.

    Building Relationships

    • Lewis and Clark knew the skills and attitudes of the men in the party.
    • They knew the men beyond their skills.
    • They provided others with the yoke of leadership by breaking the expedition into five groups with specific objectives.
    • Lewis and Clark laid a firm foundation (and an example) for their leadership with good communication, clear objectives, consistency and firmness, role modeling, teamwork, trust, showing respect, caring, giving responsibility, and being familiar with the skills and character of those they were responsible for."
    Reference: Bell, Chuck (unknown publication date). "Leadership Lessons from Lewis and Clark." Leadership Link

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Jason Fallon Recognized


    The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee recognizes Jason Fallon, Prescribed Fire/Fire Use Captain, Colorado Fire Management District, US Fish and Wildlife Service, as winner of the 2010 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for motivation and vision.

    Here is an excerpt from his award citation letter:


    "Fallon provided motivation and vision by developing a new “hands-on” style of class for chainsaw training. After observing the current lack of adequate training for chainsaw operators, he applied for, and was awarded, an Albright-Wirth Grant to finance his class development. Fallon received applications and interest for his class from various diverse backgrounds, far beyond his home unit and zone. Fallon consistently put the students and cadre’s needs ahead of his own and ensured the primary focus was on the learning opportunities of the students, and in return, concluding with a very successful class."

    Congratulations on your achievement, Jason!

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Stress and the IC

    (Photo Credit: Frank Cianciola, McDonald Observatory)

    Fire leaders bring order to chaos, improve our people’s lives, and strengthen our organizations.” (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 6)

    The pictures coming out of the devastating wildland fires in Texas are incredible and heart wrenching. However, viewing the pictures does not come close to the emotions and stress incident commanders are dealing with to bring order out of the chaos. NWCG Leadership Subcommittee representative Mark Stanford, Texas Forest Service’s Chief Fire Operations, is one of those leaders facing the challenges of an unpredicted fire season.

    As fire leaders, we make every attempt to ensure that we can perform our jobs on the fireline. However, as I have discussed in recent blog entries, we may never be fully prepared for the unlikely events that may occur. Fire leaders should be prepared by expecting the unexpected and leading accordingly.

    A video on the HBR blog featuring Justin Menkes, author of Better Under Pressure, provides incident commanders with insight into the stressful life of an organizational leader under constant pressure. He explains “why today’s leaders need realistic optimism, subservience to purpose, and the ability to find order in chaos.”

    Incident commanders know that increasing complexity is a trigger point to action. Nothing in the world of fire is constant and pressure is constant. How do you handle the pressures or stresses of the job? Are you proactive or reactive?

    Additional Reference:
    Human Resources IQ podcast with Justin Menkes (approximately 10 minutes)