Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Learning from Successful Organizations: Seattle Seahawks - Leadership, Teamwork and Communication

Check out the recently released leadership module produced for the 2016 Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher. WFSTAR creators went to Seattle and hung out with members of the Seattle Seahawks. Although you cannot receive refresher credit here, we wanted our followers to be aware of its release and to give all our social media followers the opportunity to participate in the module.

The intent of this module is to initiate a discussion on leadership, teamwork and communication utilizing examples from a successful organization outside of the fire and military community.

Exercise Instructions:
Watch the video and read the Introduction and the Terminology. Then, discuss the two exercise questions (in small groups or as a whole class). Share with the whole class if done in groups. After completing the two questions, we want to learn from YOUR successful organization. Share your success stories with WFSTAR so that others can learn from your organization. Instructions are located at the end of the module.

In previous fire training courses, the focus has been about learning from leaders within the wildland fire and military community. This module is the first in a series designed to focus on learning from organizations outside of the military and wildland fire community. There are a lot of concepts that translate from football to firefighting and we thought it would be insightful to interview members of the coaching staff from the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). Regardless of your interest level in sports or personal team affiliation, the fact remains that it takes a high degree of leadership, teamwork, and communication to operate effectively at the professional level of sports.


Success – for the purposes of this module, the Seattle Seahawks were chosen as a case study for success based on three criteria (using data from the 2010 to 2014 seasons):
  1. Development of players: During this five-year period, 22 players were selected to the Pro Bowl. Example of player development can also be seen by looking at the starting roster of the team that won the Super Bowl in 2013; of the 22 starting players (11 offensive, 11 defensive), 13 were drafted in the 3rd round or later (included undrafted players). Players also receive professional development training to prepare them for careers after football (business training, entrepreneur workshops, etc.). 
  2. Development of coaches: Two coaches from the Seahawks were promoted to head coaches for other NFL teams. Several other positional coaches were promoted internally and externally. 
  3. Winning: In the same five-year stretch, the Seahawks have made four playoff appearances including two Super Bowls (won Super Bowl 2013, lost Super Bowl 2014). The Seahawks currently have five consecutive seasons with 7+ wins (out of a 16-game season). 
Humility – This term is mentioned several times by the coaches as a major emphasis of the team. The term humility comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as "humble", but also as "grounded", "from the earth", or "low", since it derives from humus (earth). The author C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."

  1. The video focused on three main elements: leadership, teamwork, and communication. What effective methods or techniques from the video do you see demonstrated in your current work environment (on your crew, in the office, or during incident responses)? Provide specific examples. 
  2. What effective methods or techniques that were discussed in the video do NOT happen in your organization? What can YOU do to improve the conditions in these three areas? Provide specific examples.
We want to learn from your successful organization and share it with others. Please provide a brief description including:
  • What type of “team” are you a part of? Engine, hand crew, IMT, etc. 
  • What effective methods of leadership/teamwork/communication does your organization use? 
  • What has been the outcome from using these practices? Optional – provide your contact information so others may contact you. 
Share your stories using the email: annualrefresher@gmail.com.

Visit the WFSTAR website to download the Instructor Guide or Student Workbook. Be sure to talk with your Training Officer to ensure this module is part of your annual fireline refresher. If not, host your own tailgate with the Seahawks! 

Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher logo

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