Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Making Sense out of Chaos


confused dog
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE TROUBLE SPELLING** * !!!! TRY THIS!!!! AOCDRNDICG TO RSCHEEARCH AT CMABRIGDE UINERVTISY , IT DSENO'T MTAETR WAHT OERDR THE LTTERES IN A WROD ARE, THE OLNY IPROAMTNT TIHNG IS TAHT THE FRSIT AND LSAT LTEETR BE IN THE RGHIT PCLAE. TIHS IS BCUSEAE THE HUAMN MNID DEOS NOT RAED ERVEY LTETER BY ISTLEF, BUT THE WROD AS A WLOHE. IF YOU CAN RAED TIHS, PSOT IT TO YUOR WLAL. OLNY 55% OF PLEPOE CAN!!!!!!
The paragraph above has come across my news feed numerous times. I don't know if the contents (assuming you are able to make sense of it) are true. Seeing it recently sparked me to write about connection to leadership and communicating leader's intent.

The First Letter - The Task
Task—what is the objective or goal of the assignment.
How many times have you listened to a briefing and failed to receive solid, well-defined objectives? Many times the objectives provided are broiler plate; we know what the leader is going to say before they say it. Much like the paragraph above, we are left to make sense out of jumbled words. Well-defined and communicated leader's intent empowers our people to exercise individual initiative and take appropriate risks and actions as the situation requires to accomplish the mission.

All the Letters in the Middle - The Purpose
Purpose—why the assignment needs to be done.
Leaders often face difficult problems to which there are no simple, clear cut, by-the-book solutions. In these situations, leaders must use their knowledge, skill, experience, education, values, and judgment to make decisions and to take or direct actionin short, to provide leadership.

The ultimate purpose of the wildland fire service is to protect life, property, and natural resources while engaging the forces of nature. Most of us made a commitment to serve our communities, our states, or our nation. Making sense out of the senseless brings everyone home safely.

The Last Letter - The End State
End state—how the situation should look when the assignment is successfully completed.
The leadership challenge in the wildland fire service is to influence people to accomplish tasks and objectives under confusing, dangerous, and ambiguous conditions. Like making sense of the paragraph above, fire leaders find ways of bringing order to chaos. The art of leadership requires a constant interchange of theory and application. The art also includes being able to view the larger picturediscerning how to turn a weakness into a strength, gauging what is and is not within our control. Leaders constantly balance the known and unknown as well as danger and opportunity to find ways to gain the advantage.

[Excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service were used to develop this blog.]

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