The Edge of Leadership

This month starts with Jason Gallimore discussing what this edge means: a bold line of distinction, an instance of decision of opposing interests. Jason will take you to the edge so that you will learn and understand what the “Winner’s Edge” looks like, how to develop a survivor’s mindset, and how to train and think differently. Our profession requires us to face life-and-death decisions, as they are an inevitability. Do you have what it takes to develop a carnal mindset to prepare yourself, your company, and your department so that you thrive in a culture of winners? Remember, it always pays to be a winner. This is the first reality in developing a team that wants to follow your department’s ethos - and you.

Chief Joe Knitter knows how to win, and he’s done it on the fireground, in the mayor’s office, and in the classroom. Joe tells us that we need to identify our guiding principles so that we know exactly where we’ll be at times of challenge and controversy. He also details the guiding principles that are common to the fire service’s winners and many others that you will surely take to heart. But don’t think that these are all-inclusive. Joe reminds us of the fact that guiding principles only take us part of the way to the edge of true leadership; however, heeding all of these and taking a good look at our organizations and ourselves will help these principles lead the way.

In addition to looking at our ourselves and our organization, a true leader takes a 30,000-foot view of the entire fire service in which he or she serves. Thinking parochially or myopically will blind you to best practices and the wins occurring elsewhere. Taking this elevated look also gives you insight into what may be missing or needed in the fire service. One such recent view at this height was performed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) during its 2015 needs assessment survey.

Nathanial Melby takes us up to 30,000 feet with his take on the NFPA’s needs assessment this month to discuss its findings. The goal of this survey was to determine what needs the fire service currently has and compare them to what fire departments have and do with regard to consensus standards. Nathaniel discusses the six groups of needs and the NFPA’s key findings. Depending on your organization’s construct, funding, and leadership, the results may surprise you or validate your suspicions. Regardless, the true testament of a resilient and well-managed fire department is the one that wins with what it has. We’ve identified what we need, now let’s lead ourselves to getting it or making do with what we can actually get.

We round out this month’s issue with another great feature from Dr. Nicola Davies. Once we’ve located where to find leadership through our guiding principles and develop a winning edge, we need to determine if we’re actually ready for a promotion to the next rank. How do you know when you’re ready? Well, Dr. Davies shows us how by describing how you will know and how your organization can develop its future leaders in addition to guiding principles and ethos. Most organizations do this through professional development, and developing the right program is just the tip of the iceberg. Established leadership positions aren’t necessarily for everyone, as she explains, but that doesn’t mean those who don’t aspire to these positions aren’t leaders. Winners come from all ranks, and as my good friend Aaron Fields from the Seattle (WA) Fire Department puts it: “Water boils from the bottom, up.” Regardless of where you are in the organization, you should know the path you’re on and make sure it leads to the edge of leadership. Our profession is one that relies on leaders to pass the craft down so that that anyone joining it will be guided, principled, and a winner.

See what's in the July 2017 issue of FireRescue Magazine.


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November 2017
Volume 12, Issue 11