Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Branching Out

Tree with roots on globe
(Photo credit: Hemera Technologies)
One of the best opportunities I've been a part of while on the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee the last 15 years has been the chance to benchmark other organizations (and no, not just the military). Often times these organizations have had no direct correlation to wildland firefighting but have provided great learning and growth opportunities from which to expand our program. Most recently the Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher group produced a leadership module benchmarking the Seattle Seahawks.

Leadership is much like a tree with a common root system from which we all grow. The basic leadership principles are all the same. How we apply those principles is what makes our particular branch grow and thrive...or not. By observing the health of other branches as well as own, we can identify problems early and apply care and correction to keep the rest of the tree and root structure healthy.

The Benefits of Benchmarking

Ward Group®, a leading provider of benchmarking and best practices studies for insurance companies, shares the benefits of benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a common practice and sensible exercise to establish baselines, define best practices, identify improvement opportunities and create a competitive environment within the organization. Benchmarking helps companies:
  • Gain an independent perspective about how well they perform compared to other companies 
  • Clearly identify specific areas of opportunity 
  • Validate assumptions 
  • Prioritize improvement opportunities 
  • Set performance expectations 
  • Monitor company performance and manage change
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • What is your local unit/organization doing to benchmark other organizations?
  • Are other organizations benchmarking you?
  • Is there an organization you think the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee should benchmark? Contact us.

My First Stop - Never Stop Learning : My Two Passions Come Together
I recently had the opportunity to bring my two passions—faith and leadership development—together in the learning environment. As part of my self-development and benchmarking opportunity for the program, I attended Faith and Leadership Week (part of the Executive Scholars program) at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. For four days, professors shared path-breaking thought research and current trends in leadership. Everything I learned during my week at Kellogg can and will be transferred to the wildland fire service. Students of fire leadership will recognize the topics we studied:
  • Living the Vision
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Persuasion and Influence
  • Decision Making
  • Team Building
  • Leading Mission-Driven Change
  • Leading Today
Faith and Leadership participants

This is a part of my personal journey for the 2016 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign—Never Stop Learning. Be sure to check back often for the next stop on my journey...it could involve you!

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

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