Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are You Up for the Challenge?

Followership to Leadership - Are you up for the challenge?

Challenge Background
The mission of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) is “to promote cultural change in the workforce and to emphasize the vital importance of leadership concepts in the wildland fire service by providing educational and leadership development opportunities.” Since 2013, the WFLDP has challenged its followers to devote a portion of their leadership development efforts around a nationally-centered theme. Challenge themes have included "Leading with Courage" in 2013, "The Resilient Team" in 2014, and "Followership to Leadership" for 2015.

The purpose of the challenge is three-fold: (1) to foster a cohesive effort to promote leadership development across disciplines, (2) to provide a template that can be used to encourage leadership development at the local unit level, and (3) to provide a mechanism to collect innovative leadership development efforts and share across disciplines.

Every year, challenge organizers provide a reference guide with a suite of leadership activities local units can use to promote the theme. Facilitation of activities is voluntary; challenge participants are encouraged to develop their own activities with the hope they will share with others.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge logo

Who Can Take the Challenge?
What began as a challenge within the wildland fire service was broadened in 2015 to include any discipline willing to accept the challenge. The WFLDP sees the value in cross-cultural knowledge sharing and the contribution that this effort can have across disciplines.

All students of leadership, regardless of their affiliation to a wildland fire entity, are encouraged to participate and contribute to the development of the wider community. Members of the all-hazard community are highly encouraged to participate.

IGNITE the Spark for Leadership Contest
Throughout the nation, wildland fire leaders are building teams and developing their people using tools they have found or developed themselves. Imagine if students of leadership shared their experiences and successes with one another. Consider the possibility of going to a website such as the WFLDP and having a ready-made palette of leadership development tools from which to choose—items from the field for the field.

Using the spirit of healthy competition among wildland fire crews and personnel, the IGNITE the Spark for Leadership Contest is intended to be one of the mechanisms used to collect innovative leadership efforts to be shared across disciplines. The IGNITE the Spark for Leadership Contest is an optional component of the Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge and limited to entities with a tie to the wildland fire service.

Although the contest is limited to members of the wildland fire service, campaign organizers welcome the contributions of all participants. Activities received will be considered when populating the palette of leadership development tools.

Contest Winners
In 2013, the WFLDP selected Colorado's Boulder County Sheriff's Office Special Operations, as winners of the IGNITE the Spark for Leadership Contest. Their program used a variety of learning opportunities such as survival training, sand table exercises, Leadership in Cinema, and keynote speakers. This effort involved 75 special operations personnel over an 11-month period. 

Ruby Mtn. IHC 2014 From the Field for the Field Award Winner banner

The 2014 winners are the Bureau of Land Management's Ruby Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) from Elko, Nevada. Ruby Mountain IHC fully incorporated the challenge into their 2014 fire season. Following the theme's key points, Ruby Mountain IHC built resiliency throughout their organization through such activities as a simulations, team building, and incorporating many tools from the Wildland Fire Leadership Toolbox such as Leadership in Cinema, experiential learning, and in-depth review of wildland fire accidents and incidents.

Are you up for the challenge? 
For more information and accept the challenge, download the 2015 Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Followership is Leadership Reference Guide (visit http://www.fireleadership.gov) or contact Pam McDonald at blm_fa_leadership_feedback@blm.gov or 208-387-5318. Together we can make a difference and IGNITE the Spark for Leadership!

About the Author:
Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and Logistics/Social Media Administrator for the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions above are those of the author.

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