Friday, August 23, 2013

Tackling our Toolbox - Leaders We Would Like to Meet

Have you ever thought about having the opportunity to interview someone you respected and admired as a leader? To ask them how they handled a critical moment where they had to make a difficult decision; or what they think it takes to be an effective leader; or who helped them along their path to becoming a leader.

We tend to overlook the leaders in our midst. There is no outside source of highly qualified fire leaders, many people in the wildland fire service are widely recognized as extremely effective leaders. But how well are we passing on their accumulated knowledge and how well are we identifying role models for the next generation of leaders?

Most of us, given enough time, can think of one or more leaders we would like to talk to. Our individual choices would be a diverse collection of the obscure and the well known, of the young and old, and everything in between. The intent behind this collection of interviews is to begin recognizing those that have spent their career providing exemplary leadership to firefighters and capturing their lessons for future leaders.

Conducting an Interview

If you are interested in interviewing someone for this feature, contact a member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee or send an email to for further information.

Questions for Leaders We Would Like to Meet Interviews

Start by asking for an overview of the individual’s life history and career progression. Then roll into the questions below. Not all of the questions need to be asked, but at least 10-12 questions are needed to make an interesting interview. Remember the focus of the interview is to pass on wisdom regarding developing oneself as a leader.
  1. What makes you want to follow someone? 
  2. Who do you think is a leadership role model and why? 
  3. If you were to pick the three most important character traits for an effective leader, what would those be? 
  4. Are leaders born or made…explain? 
  5. Regarding leadership, what quote comes to mind? 
  6. Who are some of the individuals that had a significant influence on your life? 
  7. Thinking back to your youth, what other influences in helped you become a leader? 
  8. What do you consider your strengths to be? 
  9. What do you consider your weaknesses to be? 
  10. Since you started in ____, what are the biggest improvements you have witnessed in the wildland fire service? 
  11. What do you consider the worst changes you have seen in the wildland fire service?
  12. Describe a few of the toughest decisions or dilemmas you have faced? 
  13. What helped to guide you through those situations?
  14. Why do think people follow you? 
  15. When did you realize that you had a significant influence on others? 
  16. What handful of “lessons learned” would you offer to a young leader today? 
  17. What is a book you have read recently that you would recommend to others?
  18. What ideas or projects are currently working on? 
  19. How do you go about initiating a new idea in order to put it into practice? 
  20. Do you think a legacy is important and if so, what do want your legacy to be? 
The Leaders We Would Like to Meet Library

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