Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Normalization of Deviance: Avoiding Passenger Mode (Part 3)

"One person with courage forms a majority." ~ President Andrew Jackson

Avoiding the Passenger Mode 
In this video, Mike Mullane shares his idea that individuals have a sacred responsibility to maintain team presence and not become "passengers." He stresses that "the individual is the power of the team."

He encourages team members to:
  • Avoid the temptation to "go with the flow" (group think)
  • Avoid the tendency to defer to position and longevity.
  • Respect the power of the individual in a team environment.
  • Maintain team presence.

"Every individual has the right and obligation to report safety problems and contribute ideas regarding their safety. Supervisors are expected to give these concerns and ideas serious consideration." (Incident Response Pocket Guide, p. 17)

Excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service

Command Climate (p. 19)
Command climate refers to the environment within the influence of a particular leader or chain of command. Team members develop a perception of the command climate based on their understanding of how they are expected to perform, how they are treated, and how they must conform to their leader’s individual style and personality.

Fire leaders strive to create command climates based on trust in which people feel comfortable raising issues that may be problems and engaging in healthy debate over potential courses of action.

Establishing a positive command climate demonstrates respect for our teams and subordinates and generates far-reaching benefits: unity of effort, increased initiative among subordinates, and more timely error mitigation.

A positive command climate not only helps to avoid error but also enhances the team’s ability to recover from error when it occurs. Direct communication with open interaction among teams and their leaders—a key attribute of an effective command climate—is the first line of defense against error chains.

Good command climate is characterized by open communication, mutual trust and respect, freedom to raise issues and engage in debate, clear and attainable goals, and teamwork.

Communication (p. 22)
Communication is the primary tool for establishing an effective command climate. The ability to communicate effectively is universally rated as one of the most important leadership behaviors.

Communication is the foundation upon which we build trust and enable our teams to develop cohesion. Effective communication is a two-way process. Good leaders actively listen to build trust with others. Communication enables us to convey objectives and intent, break error chains, and improve situation awareness. Leaders are cognizant of the central role that communication plays in the ability to lead and always strive to become better communicators.

Leading Up (pp. 48-49)
Looking out for our people includes not only those who work for us but also our leaders and peers. Leadership is about influencing others to accomplish tasks that are in the best interest of our organization; this often means influencing those above us and leading up. Similarly, we are open to upward leadership--and, in fact, encourage and reward it.

Fire leaders are expected to lead in many directions, an expectation that increases complexity and risk. Summoning the courage needed to intervene and influence peers or leaders above can be difficult, especially if providing unwelcome feedback about behavior or pointing out an alternative to a potentially bad decision.

However, in high-risk environments, no one can afford to assume that anyone has all the answers. Everyone, at every level, can make mistakes or fee pressure to make decisions without adequate information or make decisions based on outdated information. The potential for error is inherently high.

To build the kind of healthy and resilient culture required in the wildland fire service, we lead up--holding our leaders accountable, providing unvarnished situation awareness in challenging situations, and offering unbiased and viable alternatives.

Other References

This is the third in a four-part series. We are operating and will continue to operate in sub-optimal environments. Fire leaders must take the time to instill this concept into their operational environments and as a part of the fireground culture.

Thanks to Brian Fennessy, Local/County/Rural Representative on the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee, for referring this great video.

1 comment:

Peter said...


I read this post two times.

I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

Source: Firefigter interview questions

Best regards