Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hitting it Home with Staff Rides

"Staff rides were developed by the Prussian Army in the early nineteenth century and have been used by the militaries in many countries since then. In the 1970's the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps turned to staff rides with great enthusiasm and now they are considered essential instructional techniques in advanced military schools and in field units.

A staff ride is a case study that is conducted on the ground where the event happened. As the facilitator of a staff ride you are not merely a chauffer for the participants, nor should you be obligated to provide a tour guide's monolog to the participants. What makes staff rides particularly stimulating is that they are group exercises. A staff ride requires active participation by all. Your role should be to encourage discovery learning by providing information references, orchestrating logistics, and serving as a moderator to generate group interaction. You should also become a subject matter expert.

A staff ride should avoid being a recital of a single investigation report. Such reports rarely address the human factors that affect individual decision-making. For this reason, providing participants with a variety of information sources is important.

The intent of a staff ride is to put participants in the shoes of the decision makers on a historical incident in order to learn for the future. A staff ride should not be a tactical-fault finding exercise. Participants should be challenged to push past the basic question of "What happened?" and examine the deeper questions of leadership and decision-making: "What would I have done in this person's place?" "How detailed should the guidance from a superior to a subordinate be?" "Can a senior leader make use of a competent but overzealous subordinate?" "What explains repeated organizational success or failure?" The study of leadership aspects in a staff ride transcend time and place." (About Staff Rides)

Check out a National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute video account of wildland fire's first official staff ride--the Dude Fire Staff Ride.

Additional references:

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Laying Down the Law"

"We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it. Respect for the game and the people who participate in it will not be compromised." ~ Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner
Nothing rattles an organization more than scandal. Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner went to the airwaves recently to discuss his decisions to suspend New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and others for their support of a bounty system where players were paid to intentionally hurt other players.

Leadership expert John Baldoni wrote about Goodell's leadership in "NFL Commissioner Makes It Clear He's in Charge" in a recent story for Goodell may well be dealing with a culturally accepted practice and is making sure that those involved--especially management--are held accountable.With the league's reputation at stake, Goodell has taken some pretty dramatic changes in disciplinary action. His focus on management, a switch from disciplinary actions against individual players, may be the impetus for cultural change.

Whether or not you believe the bounty system is appropriate, Goodell deemed the practice unacceptable.  How do you rate Goodell's leadership? How would you handle a situation that showed vulnerability within your organization or corruptness of the wildland fire culture?

Wildland fire has seen its share of scandal--most recently with alleged misuse and abuse of federal funds. Now is the time to ensure that your organization is abiding by ethical practices and following the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles.

For more information about John Baldoni, visit Baldoni Consulting, LLC.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Leaving a Leadership Legacy - Marshall, Answers

General George C. Marshall

We end our tribute to the leadership legacy of  General George C. Marshall with George C. Marshall Foundation's "George C. Marshall: Legacy of Leadership: Chapter 7 - Answers."

Through it all, General Marshall held tight to his values and principles. He earned the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership that embraced candor, selflessness, commitment, integrity and courage.

Wildland Leadership Challenge:
As you reflect upon this "Leaving a Leadership Legacy" series, what leadership lessons did you take away from  General Marshall's example?

Mold your leadership legacy today!

Join us next Friday as we begin studying the leadership legacy of Sir Edward Shackleton.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Believe It

Check out this recruitment video from Clemson University's College of Health, Education, and Human Development.

Here are a few skills they believe our 21st Century leaders must have to succeed:
  1. Possess skills necessary to work collaboratively with individuals, families, and community groups from diverse backgrounds.
  2. Possess skills necessary to lead effectively and creatively in complex and changing environments and to become agents of change.
  3. Demonstrate flexibility, resilience, and adaptability, caring, ethical decision-making and ethical conduct.
  4. Possess knowledge of organizational behavior and how governance and systems work.
  5. Engage in professional development for continual growth and life-long learning.
  6. Attain a global perspective and level of knowledge and skill necessary to succeed in a complex global economy.
The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program's (WFLDP's) mission and curriculum aims to build these same leaders. Be a part of your own success and seek leadership development opportunities.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Make and submit a video to the WFLDP showcasing what you think wildland fire leaders need to succeed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Leaving a Leadership Legacy - Marshall, Courage

General George C. Marshall
General George C. Marshall believed that "only by embracing candor, selflessness, commitment, integrity and courage can a leader achieve the goals of effective leadership."

In George C. Marshall Foundation's "George C. Marshall: Legacy of Leadership: Chapter 6 - Courage" we see Marshall face one of his biggest leadership challenges: individuals accusing him of being a part of the communist revolution.

Morale Courage (Taken from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 63.)

Wildland fire leaders demonstrate moral courage by adhering to high ethical standards and choosing the difficult right over the easy wrong. We avoid ethical dilemmas by directing team members to operate in ways that are consistent with our professional standards and by directing them only to actions they can achieve ethically.

When we make mistakes, we handle them in honorable and effective ways, fixing the immediate problem then searching for root causes, not scapegoats, learning and improving, looking for ways to turn weaknesses into strengths.

An outgrowth of strong character, moral courage enables us to build trust with our teams and gain respect from peers. Although some may judge that leading ethically compromises short-term gains, leading ethically allows us to accomplish more than our mission.

Because the consequences of ethical decisions can be great and those who make such decisions may be asked later to justify their conclusion, following a careful and thorough process is a wise approach in situations with ambiguous courses of action. The values of duty, respect, and integrity should weigh heavily in any ethical decision.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lift it Up

Have you checked out the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program website lately? Jenn Smith, NWCG Leadership Subcommittee - Communications, is on fire with creativity. The website has a new look and feel, but all the information should still be in the same locations.

If you see something that doesn't quite look "right" or work correctly, drop Jenn an e-mail.

Way to go, Jenn!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Do You Have an "Alex" on Your Team?

Leadership excellence through teamwork is a key component of the wildland fire service's success. How we treat one another and those we serve tin the public sector is how we are remembered. How we are remembered is our legacy.

The following example shows "how one person can impact an entire team."

Fireline Leadership Challenge

  • Do you provide 5- or 10-diamond service? Showcase your leadership excellence examples here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Leaving a Leadership Legacy - Marshall, Integrity

General George C. Marshall
Photo: Wikipedia 
General George C. Marshall believed that "only by embracing candor, selflessness, commitment, integrity and courage can a leader achieve the goals of effective leadership."

"Integrity," as defined in Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, is "a measure of where a person stand in times of challenge and controversy." Integrity is a cornerstone value of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program.

In George C. Marshall Foundation's "George C. Marshall: Legacy of Leadership: Chapter 5 - Integrity" we see bipartisan support for Marshall and his plan to rebuild Europe. Marshall was well-trusted and supported because he "walked the talk" and denied glory of self--he was a man of integrity.

Have you witnessed such leadership in your career? Share your stories here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Leaders of Lions

Renowned leadership speaker Mark Sanborn, whose book "You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader" is recommended reading in our Professional Reading Program library, shares some great leadership insight in his latest promotional video.*

* This is a promotional video, but it has great leadership lessons contained within.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pause before you Post

Recently a couple of my friends were involved in a serious automobile accident about 6 miles south of the small town where I grew up. Less than 4 hours after the accident, the names of friends were shared across the world via a Facebook post. Approximately 120 miles from the accident, I knew more about the situation than my brother who lived in my home town and hadn't checked his page. What I don't know is whether my friends' daughter who lives in Ireland learned of her parents' accident from family members prior to seeing the Facebook post. I share a personal event, but we've seen this happen with injuries and fatalities on the fire ground.

News travels fast in today's society, but I think every generation could attest that technological advancements have accelerated the flow of information--consider the printing press, Paul Revere, the Pony Express, express mail, and party-lines. Regardless of the technology, the bigger question of having knowledge is when to share it. What are the "rules" for social media engagement and exchange of information?

I'm not sure there are any "new" rules for sharing information that differ from the basics of communication and social etiquette of previous times. Common sense and compassion should guide your decision to post. Put yourself in the position of the family, would you want to hear about an accident or death involving someone you love via social media? Some may answer with a resounding "yes" to this question; but consider your position to be in the minority and err on the side of caution. Pause before you post.

Fire leaders will have a difficult time containing information since we can't make people do anything; however, we can influence our subordinates and peers to "choose the difficult right over the easy wrong."


Friday, March 2, 2012

Leaving a Leadership Legacy - Marshall, Commitment

General George C. Marshall
Photo: Wikipedia 
General George C. Marshall believed that "only by embracing candor, selflessness, commitment, integrity and courage can a leader achieve the goals of effective leadership."

In George C. Marshall Foundation's "George C. Marshall: Legacy of Leadership: Chapter 4 - Commitment" we see Marshall's commitment to the goals. He was a leader who gave 100% to the cause and asked that his superiors do the same. He stood up for what was right and not for what looked right.

Are you committed to achieving the goals of the organization? Do your values and principles conflict with those of your superiors and the organization? Do you need a mentor to help you work through the struggles? If so, send a message to