Monday, July 29, 2013

Are You "All-In"?

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Unlike playing poker where insufficient resources to cover the ante and blinds due means you have no choice but to go "all-in" in order to keep playing, leaders have a choice when they go "all-in." When leaders go "all-in," they give of themselves to ensure a positive difference is made in the lives of their subordinates.
Resources are abundant for the leader. When they effectively go "all-in," there is never a bad hand; everyone is a winner.

Check out the Harvard Business Review interview "Get Your Employees Engaged" featuring Doug Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, and his story of going "all-in"

Video Highlights:
  • Trust and employee engagement are important.
  • You cannot expect high performance levels unless people are personally engaged.
  • People will not be personally engaged unless they genuinely believe you are personally engaged in trying to make their lives better.
  • Your people are not mind readers.
  • Declare yourself.
  • Deliver on your promises.
  • Connect with people: send personal handwritten notes and walk around.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Everyday Leadership

Never underestimate the influence and impact you may have on others. Leadership moments occur every day, sometimes when you may not be aware of them.

Drew Dudley, founder of Nuance Leadership Development Services, talks about the unknown influence he had on an under classman in college. He contends that leadership moments are not reserved for only those with legendary leadership status or extensive experience. Rather he dares us all to embrace our roles as leaders and reminds us that leadership moments happen every day by simple acts, many of which we are not aware of, that positively influence the lives of others.


Thanks to Ted Mason, Safety, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and NWCG Leadership Committee member, for this contribution.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Extraordinary Leadership of the Heart

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I have long since been a fan of leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Authors of The Leadership Challenge, Kouses and Posner provide a leadership model for managers and individual contributors who want to lead others to get extraordinary things done.

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model
Kouzes and Posner's Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership model includes:

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Visit The Leadership Challenge website for a complete description of each practice.

Fireline Leadership Challenge


Check out how Women of Wildfire embraces The Leadership Challenge.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Read to Lead

Book with flames
(Photo credit: West Caldwell Public Library)
 We talk a lot about reading. The Professional Reading Program (PRP) is a self-directed continuing education activity that all students of fire can enjoy. Whether your local unit has a leadership library or not, you can take the initiative to expand your knowledge.

In 2014, the Sparks for PRP Change group will roll out a new and improved program. A few of the items have been field tested the last year. The "Sparks" are developing a program that is more manageable and relevant to today's students of fire and leadership and that complements other program elements such as Leadership in Cinema and the leadership curriculum.

Heath Cota, Sawtooth National Forest Fire Management Officer and NWCG Leadership Subcommittee Representative, recommends "What Reading Does for the Mind" (Cunningham and Stanovich) to all leaders. Take a moment to peruse the article about the benefits of reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Does Your Team Fly Just Like Birds of a Feather?

(Photo credit: Kari Greer/USFS, Little Bear fire)

Everyone can see we're together
As we walk on by
And (Fly) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(All) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

 ~ Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers from "We Are Family" sung by Sister Sledge

I was talking with a group of fire managers recently and the topic of ad hoc teams and established incident management teams came up as we reflected upon the Incident Management Organization Succession Planning (IMOSP) Project. If you haven't heard about the project, you may want to take a moment to look at the report.

During our discussion, we talked about ad hoc members on pre-formed teams and the effects substitutes and ad hoc members have on team performance. This got me to thinking about "The Influence of Familiarity on Teamwork and Decision Making" produced by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.

Fireline Challenge
  • Read "The Influence of Familiarity on Teamwork and Decision Making."
  • Discuss with members of your team the following questions:
    • How does familiarity affect teamwork and decision making?
    • Is our team familiar with one another?
    • How do we ensure ad hoc members of the team become familiar with one another?
    • Develop a plan for working with substitutes and ad hoc members of the team to ensure trust is established and your team can effective make timely decisions.

Thanks to Brian Fennessy, Assistant Chief San Diego Fire and Rescue Department and NWCG Leadership Subcommittee representative, for sharing this resource.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Highest Call of Leadership

(Photo credit: The Catholic University of America)
The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." — Theodore Roosevelt

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers." — Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." — John Quincy Adams

"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." — Harvey S. Firestone

What is Servant Leadership?

"For decades, the older leadership theories (e.g., traits, behavioral/styles, situational and functional) did not explicitly support or address the philosophy of servant leadership. However, this changed with the emergence of Integrated Psychological leadership theory – as represented by James Scouller’s Three Levels of Leadership model (2011). Scouller’s model – which attempts to integrate the older theories while addressing their limitations by focusing on the leader’s psychology – emphasizes the idea that leaders should care as much about their followers’ needs as their own and view leadership as an act of service.[9] Thus, the link between the philosophy of servant leadership and modern leadership theory has strengthened in the 21st century." (Excerpt from Wikipedia)

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge

What can you do as a leader to help your personnel grow? To ensure that they are ready to take the next step in their careers, whatever that step is?

How can you work to ensure you are offering the best opportunities for your people? As stated above, leading does not consist of just your subordinates you can also share critical thoughts and learning moments with your supervisors as well-lead up!

Study your personnel. What are their strengths? Capitalize on them! Have them share their expertise with others. What are their weaknesses? Set them up with a coach/mentor!

Thanks to Jill McCurdy, Branch Chief, Fire & Aviation Training, U.S. Forest Service, for this blog submission.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sometimes All You Need to Do is Listen

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 "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them."

— Ralph Nichols

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For three hours, I found myself spellbound by the stories of mountain climber Roger Snyder. In May 2013, Roger become one of highly-determined individuals that can legitimately claim he conquered the summit of Mount Everest.

As I sat in his Aunt Dorothy's living room with seven others, we sat mesmerized as Roger gave his first presentation since returning from Nepal. You could tell Roger was sifting through this memory slides as he spoke--still processing his experiences on the mountain. Hearing someone tell their story of an epic event as they present it for the first time is a unique experience. Roger had many stories that deal with leadership that I'll share in the weeks or month ahead. (Time for me to process and related what I heard.)

Roger's presentation reminded me of a time during my fire career when a member of our district returned home following a shelter deployment and burnover on the Eagle Bar fire in 1988. I never dreamed I would be one of the first persons to greet one of survivors. I didn't know what to say or do and was even more shocked to find that he hadn't gone home first before showing up at dispatch. Instinct took and I listened. Then I asked, "Is there anything I can do?" All he wanted was a hug.

Sometimes all people need is to be heard. Sometimes all people need to do is listen. Sometimes the loudest words are spoken through the silence of just sitting with a friend. As the fire service begins to heal following the Yarnell Hill tragedy, be there for one another. Take the time to listen!

Do you have a story you would like to share about hearing one's epic story for the first time? Share it with us.

Resources for Listening: 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Remembering South Canyon

We remember the 14 firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the South Canyon fire on Storm King Mountain, June 6, 1994.

Take a moment to reflect upon the events of that day.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

A special thank you to those serving on the fireline this holiday. Be safe!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Remembering Our Recent Fallen this Holiday

(Photo credit: Remembering Smokejumper Luke Sheehy)
 The WFLDP sends its appreciation to all those dedicated first responders who staff the lines while others enjoy this 4th of July holiday. Stay committed to the task at hand and come home safely.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Honoring Our Fallen

The news out of Arizona regarding the loss of 19 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew is heart-wrenching. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims and the Yarnell community. Let us never forgot!

In the midst of the tragedy, we take a moment to remember the four firefighters we lost on July 1, 2012, in the MAFFS 7 crash in South Dakota.

Today also marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Those who have attended the L-580 staff ride are fully aware of the importance of that battle and the lessons that can applied to wildland firefighting. As we grieve the devastating loss of life on the Yarnell Hill fire, we get a glimpse into the past. Let us learn for our future.

“...That these dead shall not have died in vain.”
- President Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

Leadership is a Choice

The Authority to Lead versus the Decision to Lead  (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 6-7)

The authority to lead is established by law. Whether this authority is based on federal, state, or local law, we are legal agents exercising authority on behalf of our organizations.

The ability to lead is a different matter; it is something that cannot be legislated. To be effective, leaders must earn the trust and respect of others. A leader’s journey is a perpetual cycle of acquiring, shaping, and honing the knowledge and skills of leadership. The leadership journey is never finished.

Once we commit to becoming leaders, our focus is no longer ourselves. Fire leaders assume the serious responsibility of putting others into harm’s way and for making decisions that profoundly affect citizens, communities, and natural resources.

Leadership is a tough choice. Leaders choose to sacrifice their own needs for those of their teams and organizations. They routinely face situations and make decisions that others criticize and second-guess. Leaders take risks and face challenges every day.

So why do we choose to lead? We lead because leading is where we make a difference.

Fire leaders bring order to chaos, improve our people’s lives, and strengthen our organizations. Leading enables us to leave a legacy for the leaders of the future so that they can take our places well prepared for the road ahead.

These are the rewards of leadership. Their effects will be seen and felt long after our careers end.

Fire Leadership Challenge

Watch Stanley McChrystal's speak in "Leadership is a Choice."