Friday, November 14, 2014

Feed Your Eagle

Soaring eagle and howling wolf
(Photo credit: Thinkstock - eagle, Tom Brakefield; wolf, Jupiter Images)
The trials and tribulations we endure mold us into the leaders we will become. Retired General Charles Krulak, 31st Commandant of the Marien Corps, shares his stories in order for us to fully understand the importance of integrity, loyalty, and loyal dissent and his formation as a leader. (Krulak was a Lt. General at the time of this video.)

What does Lt. General Krulak's story have to do with wildland fire and leadership? It has everything to do with fire leaders.  We'll paraphrase his advice using excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service:

"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. (p. 6)

People matter. "The wildland fire service appraoch to taking care of people encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Because duty can take our people into dangerous situations, fire leaders reciprocate their loyalty by looking out for their safety and well-being in all circumstances." (p. 45)

"Wildland fire leaders demonstrate moral courage by adhering to high ethical standards and choosing the difficult right over the easy wrong. We avoid eithical 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." (p. 63)

"Leaders are responsible for the decisions they make and for the actions they take. This responsibility also means that fire leaders are accountable for their teams--for the decisions they make and the actions they take based on the leader's intent provided to them." (p. 62)

"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." (p. 48)


There is a great battle
that rages inside me.

One side is a soaring eagle
Everything the eagle stands for
is good and true and beautiful.

It soars above the clouds.
Even though it dips down into the valleys,
it lays its eggs on the mountain tops.

The other side of me is a howling wolf.
And that raging, howling wolf
represents the worst that is in me.

He eats upon my downfalls and
justifies himself by his presence
in the pack.

Who wins this great battle?...
The one I feed.

~ Author unknown~

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
  • Step up with courage and integrity to lead the fire service into the next generation. 
  • Are your motives pure?
  • "Tattoo" integrity across your soul.
  • Soaring eagle or howling wolf. Which will you feed?
("Voices of Experience" is a more up-to-date, longer Krulak presentation with similar vignettes but is presented to an audience of business professionals.)

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