Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Not Me! Ida Know! Nobody!

(Photo credit: The Family Circus by Bil and Jeff Keane)

Growing up I looked forward to reading "The Family Circus" comic strip in the Sunday newspaper (to be honest, the comics were about all I read). I don't know about you, but it seems like the artist had a lot of insight into my family. The "Not Me," "Ida Know," and "Nobody" gremlins ran rampant throughout our house. Some 40 years (or more) later, I ponder the strip's relevance as I write this blog on accountability and responsibility in the wildland fire service. WHO is ultimately responsible for decisions and actions? How far up the chain does responsibility go? Let's "unpack" a few things before we answer the question--if we can.

The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program's foundation exists in its values and principles.  The value that relates to this blog is INTEGRITY; the principles, "Seek responsibility and accept responsibility for your own actions." To break this principle down, we say, "Accept full responsibility for and correct poor team performance."

So, the leader is responsible! Right?

If you look and the values and principles from the perspective of the leader, the answer is "Yes." Where the values and principles intended for leaders? The answer is YES. However, we (the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program) establish four levels of leadership:
  • Followers
  • Leaders of People
  • Leaders of Leaders
  • Leaders of Organizations
IF you view our values and principles from the perspective of followers not being leaders, the answer to our question is pretty simple. The leader of people...now, the  leader of leaders...wait leader of organizations is ultimately responsible. Is there someone higher than the organization level? We deserve to know who is "in charge."

BUT if you view our values and principles from the perspective of followers are leaders, maybe we can get somewhere. By flattening the accountability/responsibility bubble, we can establish a hard truth--we are all responsible. Each one of us owes it to the team with which we serve to hold each other accountable, to respectfully and truthfully express our concerns without fear of harm or retribution, to create a culture where honest feedback is allowed and appreciated, where DUTY, RESPECT, AND INTEGRITY are freely shown and valued.
When you work as part of a team at your job, be 100 percent personally responsible for the outcome of the effort—good or bad. - Linda Galindo
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • Read The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success -- No Nonsense, No Excuses by Linda Galindo.
  • Create a culture of peer accountability on your team.
Peer Accountability
Leaders create teams in which team members hold each other accountable. More than any system of reward and discipline, more than any policy, the fear of letting down respected teammates and peers represents the most effective means of accountability.

Peer accountability is an outgrowth of trust and commitment. We set the example by demonstrating that team members can hold us accountable, encouraging them to give us feedback on our own performance in meeting stated goals.(Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 54)

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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