Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Leadership is Action - "You Can't Force Leadership"


Bumble bee in flowering tree
It is of this writer’s belief that one can’t force leadership. We can just plant the seed. Your flower will blossom when it is ready. Flowers bloom all the time.

Living and working in Washington, D.C., for a few months made me think more about our country and our history. I have stared at the White House; I have visited the memorials, I have walked the bridges and can hardly fathom receiving a letter from the President or crossing over the Potomac by foot or by riding a horse. The Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg resonates with me more now than ever, the history of this great city, the architecture on the buildings, the lay-out of the streets, the many circles; originally planned out to confuse the enemy, now confusing mostly tourists, including myself. I study the map of the city wanting to figure out the madness behind the design. Walking around makes me think about how lucky I am to have the basic necessities of life: good health, clothes, food and shelter. Many battles have been lost for us to live in this great country. A Blackhawk helicopter flies overhead as I walk on the Washington Memorial Bridge. I stop to watch the helicopter. Freedom, it is here from the loss of others. I look at the Potomac, the water flows swiftly, I think about the troops who had to cross over the Potomac River to protect Washington, D. C., from the Army of Northern Virginia. With their sacrifice and many others, I stand here today, free.

On driving to Emmitsburg for the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial, one couldn’t help but to think about our fallen firefighters, and then again Gettysburg and the battles of our past. This area is rich in our history. Looking out the window one thought about the placement of the troops only days before the engagement (June 24th - 28th 1863), Stuart clashed with Hancock just West of Centreville and then captured 125 supply wagons just North of Rockville. Troops were hungry and weary but continued to make movement in and around these valleys and hills now used for highways, shopping malls, Starbucks, fast food places, “Metro stops”, etc., all filled with people hurrying to the next location, engulfed in rushing from point A to point B. This makes me think about movement; movement how it has changed over time. Staring out the window, comfortable and grateful, I think about life’s lessons and leadership; life changes all the time, but has leadership changed over time?

By AgnosticPreachersKid, via Wikimedia Commons
Staring at the White House brings a chill to my body. I wonder how George Meade felt when he received a letter from the President Lincoln commanding him as the Commander for the Army of the Potomac. I think about leaders of the past, leaders of the present. I think about the friction between the government, from the past and still today. Will the leaders of this great country ever unite? Is the leadership skills being present today the same as they were in the past? Is leadership being able to deal with the changes and challenges of life? I think so. I reflect on those who have given me the chance to work on this assignment, to learn, to lead and to follow. I am honored to have had this opportunity. I am honored to work for the federal government.

General Longstreet
(Public domain - U.S.; Wikimedia Commons)
While this writer doesn’t believe the fundamental traits of leadership have changed, one believes that we can all develop our leadership traits to the best level of our desire. Developing leadership traits is building the vision, seeing the path, knowing when to execute, knowing when to follow and knowing how to communicate effectively. On July 3rd, Longstreet tells his commander
(Public domain - U.S.; Wikimedia Commons)
General Lee that he doesn’t think the plan will work; Longstreet is displaying great leadership in voicing his opinion about high levels of concern. This is a good example for our fire organization to follow. Speak up in a polite manner to voice your concerns. Too often we are hesitant to voice our concerns. Worried about the outcome, we shy away from speaking up. Enable your leadership skills and speak up when necessary. Even after the Battle of Gettysburg was over, Buford, one of the great leaders of this time, voices his opinion about being worn out and disgusted from the war, wishing to be relieved from the Army of the Potomac. Sometimes, this is all we can do, express our concerns and hope the leader will listen. Upward voicing is a powerful tool and we all need to remember, to listen to those we lead and, voice our concerns to those who lead us. The flower will either bloom or not.

Shawna Legarza
Fire Management Officer - DIVS 08
San Juan Public Lands


We originally ran this post on our blog November 1, 2009, as our seventh post. Shawna is now the Director of Fire and Aviation for the U.S. Forest Service and an avid supporter of leadership development.

Leadership is Action - "You Can't Force Leadership"

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