Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leadership at the Lowest Levels

Leadership is the art of influencing people in order to achieve a result. The most essential element for success in the wildland fire service is good leadership.
Leadership is not about a title. The wildland fire service prides itself on leadership at all levels. In this Smokey Generation video, Lee Miller shares a leadership success story of his transport driver having the courage to lead up.

We challenge you to watch the video and dig a little deeper into leading up.

Leading Up 
(Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 48 - 49)

Looking out for our people includes not only those who work for us but also our leaders and peers. Leadership is about influencing others to accomplish tasks that are in the best interest of our organization; this often means influencing those above us and leading up. Similarly, we are open to upward leadership—and, in fact, encourage and reward it. Fire leaders are expected to lead in many directions, an expectation that increases complexity and risk.

Summoning the courage needed to intervene and influence peers or leaders above can be difficult, especially if providing unwelcome feedback about behavior or pointing out an alternative to a potentially bad decision.

However, in high-risk environments, no one can afford to assume that anyone has all the answers. Everyone, at every level, can make mistakes or feel pressure to make decisions without adequate information or make decisions based on outdated information. The potential for error is inherently high.

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.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • Read Michael Useem's book Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win.
  • Leading Up: The Art of Managing Your Boss 
  • Read John Baldoni's book Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up.
  • Listen to HBR's 2009 Sarah Green's "Leading Your Boss (and Following Your Subordinates)" podcast with John Baldoni.

What is your story? We challenge you to become a part of this amazing  project and share your leadership stories. Bethany Hannah began The Smokey Generation: A Wildland Fire Oral History and Digital Storytelling Project for her master's thesis. All members of the wildland fire service, not just hotshots, can share their stories by following her example. Click here for potential leadership questions. Visit The Smokey Generation website for complete information.

The Smokey Generation logo

No comments: