Question Details

(Answered)-Read the article entitled "Leadership Excellence: Communicate


Read?the?article?entitled??Leadership?Excellence:?Communicate?Your?Vision?.?

Assess?the?consequences?of?leaders?not?being?able?to?communicate??their?change?vision.Discuss?the?outcomes?of?a?change?management?plan??with?an?under-communicated?vision?of?change.Develop?a?strategy?for??avoiding?under-communicating?the?change?vision.
Fire Engineering

 


 

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Leadership

 

Excellence:

 

Communicate Your Vision

 

BY RON KANTERMAN

 


 

W

 


 

E?VE ALL HAD BOSSES WHO APPEAR TO BE

 

good leaders but who are terrible managers, and

 

vice versa. Both disciplines take hard work. Management entails lots of planning, organizing, staffing, delegating, budgeting, and other responsibilities. Can you be a good

 

leader and a good manager at the same time, good at one and

 

not the other, or lousy at both? Yes to all three! A chief of a

 

small combination fire department who was a great manager

 

and administrator could justify an ice delivery to the firehouse

 

on a 5?F day in February and get the funding from city hall,

 

but he couldn?t lead the members to the breakfast table?he

 

had no people skills and tended to mess with the troops

 

regularly. When I asked him why he did that, he answered,

 

?Because I can.?

 

Leadership isn?t necessarily what?s on your collar. Respect

 

for rank comes with that rank, but respect for you as a person

 

comes with having the right qualities. Think about the best

 

leaders, officers, and firefighters you have worked with. What

 

made them what they were? I?ll guess they were trustworthy,

 

dedicated, and well-read people with great integrity who had

 

respect for others at the highest levels.

 

Also think about the worst leaders you?ve come across. You

 

can learn from the bad ones, too, because you will know what

 

not to do!

 


 

VISION AND A COMMON BOND

 

Consider the greatest leaders of all time. They were able to

 

lead the masses and bring them to the place they wanted their

 

people to be?for example, Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and Fiorello LaGuardia. They

 

all had one thing in common?vision. If you are going to be a

 

leader in your organization or the leader of your organization,

 

you must have a vision. Don?t confuse your vision statement

 

with a mission statement. Most emergency services organizations have a mission statement that include words like service,

 

dedication, best, customer, quick, efficient, effective, ability,

 

and so forth.

 

But a vision statement is much different. It?s your opportunity to dream a little and shape your vision into what you

 

believe the organization should and could look like. Put aside

 

the budget and all the other current obstacles, and develop

 

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your vision for your organization. Once you?ve done that,

 

share it with your staff. It may become a group vision at this

 

point and then start to filter down to the line.

 

?Our firehouses are 100 years old. We need new quarters.

 

My vision is to build new firehouses.? Sounds impossible? If

 

you don?t believe in your own vision to start with, it will never

 

come to light. You must believe in it yourself to make others

 

believe that it?s possible. If a vision just came to you and you

 

responded, ?That will never happen,? either modify the vision

 

while still keeping with your ideals or change the situation

 

preventing fulfillment of vision.

 

The leaders mentioned above were effective because they

 

were also great communicators. They all had a vision they believed in that they could share and communicate to the masses

 

and thus change the lives of others. If you want to be an

 

effective leader within your organization or beyond, you must

 

have a vision, the passion to make it work, and the ability to

 

communicate it at all times and at all costs. Most importantly,

 

you must first believe in it yourself.

 


 

VALUES

 

A leader has to strike a balance among all the members in

 

the organization. When I ask my audiences where they get their

 

values, most answer ?from home or parents.? We are a product

 

of our environment. We read about kids in bad neighborhoods

 

growing up in a single-parent home, surrounded by drugs and

 

crime; the media reports that some are in gangs by age 12.

 

Once in a while, we see a success story of one of these kids

 

who got out and made something of himself, but most do not.

 

They simply become a product of their environment.

 

Each member of the organization brings his own set of

 

values to the table. As a leader, you must not only deal with

 

them, but you must understand them, too. Your job is to sort

 

through the pile of values on the table and bring everyone to

 

a common ground. That sounds easy. It isn?t! It?s hard work

 

and takes perseverance.

 

BE PROACTIVE

 

You must create the environment and lead by example.

 

Chief Peter Lamb from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, says,

 

?What you allow to happen without your intervention becomes your standard.? He also used the letters of his name to

 

develop a personal leadership model. I did the same below.

 

FIRE ENGINEERING April 2013 139

 


 

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? LEADERSHIP

 

Use your name to create your own. If you continually let the

 

tail wag the dog and the day comes when the dog must wag

 

the tail, you will have to go over Mt. Everest to get there. You

 

must set the stage, create the environment, set the tone, and

 

do whatever you have to do, but you must lead at all times,

 

not just when it?s convenient. You are charged with setting the

 

tone for ethical behavior, even if you were the biggest prankster in the firehouse. Once you get elevated to the next level,

 

?You can?t play cards with the guys anymore,? as a former boss

 

said when I moved up a notch.

 


 

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SELF-DEVELOPMENT

 

Before we dive into self-development, consider the ?KANTERMAN? GAL (Guidance Acronym of Leadership).

 

Kidding: Are you kidding yourself and those around you

 

that you are or can be an effective leader, or are you really

 

committed? This is hard work?you have to apply yourself

 

every day.

 

Accept that you have problems, and work on them. Fix the

 

big ones first; the small ones will fall in place.

 

Never forget your leadership role and what your responsibilities are.

 

Take action every time. Don?t procrastinate.

 

Evaluate each situation carefully for the best plan that will

 

result in the best possible outcome.

 

Remember who you are, where you are, and the effect you

 

have on the organization at all times.

 

Make good decisions based on the best information you can get.

 

Act on everything with diligence and purpose. Prioritize

 

your work.

 

Never put yourself ahead of the organization. If you follow

 

the organization?s goals and objectives, the things you want for

 

yourself will eventually come.

 

Build effective relationships. Cooperation works most of

 

the time, and cooperating with your team is as important as

 

your team cooperating with you. Sit and listen to members?

 

points of view and ask for their input. Let them know up front

 

that you may not use their ideas, but you want to hear from

 

them. Try a brainstorming session even though the first one

 

may be more like a light drizzle. If your people have never

 

been asked to contribute to the cause, you may get that ?deerin-the-headlights? look. It?s okay for you to start it off with an

 

idea or two, but then let them do their thing. You?ll be very

 

surprised to hear what comes from your troops; it lends itself

 

to ownership.

 

When you are each locked in your corners, butting heads,

 

and trying to get to a ?win-win,? move to higher ground. Agree

 

to disagree if you have to, and move on. At least you agreed

 

on something. When you are conducting a disciplinary meeting, always reserve judgment until after you have all the facts.

 

Don?t rush to judge! Do your homework; when you?re wrong,

 

admit it, and don?t get defensive.

 

In my last command, two members appeared to have made

 

a serious mistake in their work resulting in what I believed

 

would be a life hazard to personnel. In anger, I hastily drew

 

up the papers for a two-day suspension for each member,

 

which would have resulted in dismissal on their next offense.

 

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LEADERSHIP ?

 

Not only did I misjudge their ?supposed

 

bad actions,? but I felt it was my duty to

 

admit the mistake and make it right. The

 

disciplinary action was expunged from

 

their records, and I not only verbally

 

apologized to the men but also sent

 

them a letter apologizing to their families for bringing undue grief on all of

 

them. Not only did this make it right, but

 

these men remained committed workers, and we continued to respect each

 

other. Fire Marshal Bill Hopson of Ocean

 

County, New Jersey, says, ?If you mess

 

up, fess up, clean it up, and move on.?

 

Those are words to lead by.

 

Learn and contribute. As the leader

 

of an organization, you are expected

 

to continually contribute to moving

 

the organization forward. Generating

 

new ideas creates excitement among

 

the members. Try new things. If something new doesn?t work, try something

 

else. Get out of the box and see what

 

everyone else is doing. Smash the box,

 

and either rebuild it or go without it. Go

 

to conferences and seminars, and bring

 

home new knowledge (not just a bag of

 

brochures) and, most importantly, apply

 

new knowledge rapidly. If you hear or

 

see something great at any class, seminar, or school and you get home and

 

shelve it, you?ll never pull it out again.

 

On returning from a National Fire

 

Academy class about 10 years ago, I left

 

that oversized white binder with a note

 

sticking out of one page on my desk.

 

That one page was going to change

 

the way my department responded to

 

buildings because of a new method of

 

preplanning that was contained in this

 

book. I knew if I shelved the binder, I?d

 

never pull it down. It sat on my desk

 

for three months until I got to it. I had a

 

meeting with my staff; we looked at it,

 

and all agreed it was the way to go. The

 

project took 10 months to complete, but

 

we were better for it.

 

Show flexibility with your team. That

 

could mean adjusting working hours for

 

the administrative staff, accommodating

 

a shift person with different hours for a

 

personal problem at home, or bending

 

the rules but not breaking them.

 

Develop yourself functionally and technically so you can speak, operate, and

 

lead at the proper levels across the board.

 

You don?t necessarily need to know how

 


 

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every new tool operates or have it in

 

your hands when you?re at the higher

 

levels of the organization, but you need

 

to understand the concepts so you can

 

support the need. I can?t make a 4:1 Z-rig

 

mechanical advantage system, but I know

 

what it?s for and why the rescue company

 

needs this device to operate.

 


 

DEVELOPING THE DEPARTMENT

 

Customer focus. Our customers dial

 

911 and ask us to come and make their

 


 

problem go away. The average American doesn?t know or care whether we

 

are paid or not??I dial 911 and somebody shows up and helps me.? That?s

 

the bottom line. But it goes deeper

 

than that. You must keep up with your

 

town?s demographics; few communities?

 

makeup in the country is stable; people

 

are always moving in and out, and

 

the ethnicities, religions, and genders

 

change rapidly. New cultures bring new

 

challenges for the emergency services.

 


 

_________________

 


 

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? LEADERSHIP

 

As the leader, it?s your job to keep up and ensure that your

 

new customers are getting what they need. You may have to

 

meet with community or religious leaders to better understand

 

who they are and what they need. An associate of mine works

 

in a large city where diversity is the norm. An Italian-American

 

fire officer, his firehouse was in the middle of a Hasidic Jewish

 

neighborhood. By taking the time to read about and study

 

their customs, he created a relationship with his customers in

 

which they were able to understand his fire prevention and

 

code issues. Approaching your constituents with a respect for

 

their traditions, culture, or religion will speak volumes and

 

probably get the code compliance you?re seeking.

 

You have internal customers as well?everyone in your

 

department under your command. You need to fulfill their

 

requests in the station as you would out on the fireground.

 

Your people are your greatest asset?take care of them. Other

 

customers include the other municipal agencies (e.g., the

 

police, the department of public works, parks and recreation,

 

and so on.) Take care of them the way you would want them

 

to take care of you when you call for assistance.

 

Get involved in your community. Successful chiefs I?ve met

 

have been part of their local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. One volunteer chief told me that his apparatus hit a tree

 

on the way to a call. (No injuries; everyone was belted in.) The

 

local truck body shop called him and asked if it could fix it for

 

nothing! He had attended Chamber meetings for three years

 


 

with all the business people in the town. It paid off.

 

Always personally support your department. If the

 

department leadership talks negatively about it, especially in

 

public, then what could you expect from your people? Most

 

of us support our departments by simply wearing a marked

 

shirt or jacket or by displaying a window sticker on our cars.

 

Remember, however, that you are now a ?marked person,? and

 

what you do affects not only you but the whole department

 

as well. When a firefighter gets arrested for drunk driving, the

 

news will report that ?an off-duty firefighter? or ?a volunteer

 

firefighter with 25 years of experience responding to vehicle

 

accidents? was arrested. It?s even worse if you?re an officer. If

 

you?re the chief, forget it. What you do and say in a leadership

 

role affects the entire organization.

 

Collaboration. If you are at or near the top, discuss with

 

your companies, divisions, bureaus, and units why it?s important for all of you to align yourselves with the department?s

 

goals, objectives, and guidelines. If you?re a company officer,

 

lead your members to the alignment ?trough,? and have them

 

take a sip. Many firefighters and officers have told me that

 

they work in a four-platoon system that has in effect become

 

four separate fire departments within one. Each shift and

 

shift commander does it a little differently or, in some cases,

 

a lot differently. It gets real interesting when a firefighter

 

is detailed to another shift for overtime and is admonished

 

by the officer for doing his job the way he knows how. ?We

 


 

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? LEADERSHIP

 


 

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don?t it that way on K shift,? the K shift

 

commander tells him.

 

Alignment is key, and leaders at all

 

levels are responsible for it. Align the

 

fire prevention bureau with the suppression forces. Align the shifts. You?d think

 

standard operating procedures/guidelines (SOPs/SOGs) would have taken

 

care of that. Align the line and the staff.

 

It?s okay if everyone is singing in different keys as long as everyone is singing

 

from the same sheet of music.

 

Sharing is another way to get collaboration within your department. Share

 

your ideas, and solicit new ideas from

 

within. Share your successes and lessons

 

learned, and document them. We?re

 

getting better at that lately; see the Fire

 

Fighter Close Calls Web site, www.firefighterclosecalls.com, and the National

 

Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System

 


 

also know your department?every

 

function, position, policy, procedure,

 

SOP/SOG, rule, regulation, what to do,

 

and more importantly what NOT to do.

 

You have to know your people. The

 

success of every good leader I have

 

known came from their ability to lead

 

and having good people around them

 

to carry out the mission. As a 19-year

 

chief, I realize that most of my successes came from my deputy and battalion

 

chiefs, line officers, and firefighters.

 

I used to love talking to chiefs who

 

thought they were bigger than their

 

department members. I always had to

 

break the bad news: ?They?re bigger

 

than you and, by the way, probably

 

much better.? They never liked that. Get

 

that valuable input from your staff, look

 

at best practices, and benchmark with

 

your peers and professional associa-

 


 

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You must create the environment

 

and must lead at all times, not

 

just when it?s convenient.

 

Web site, www.firefighternearmiss.com.

 

If we don?t learn from the past, we?re

 

doomed to repeat our mistakes. Insanity has been defined as doing the same

 

thing over and over again and expecting different results. Take advantage

 

of collaborating with other agencies as

 

well. Many jurisdictions form task forces

 

with police, fire, and other municipal

 

services. Get on to these task forces, and

 

do some cross-jurisdictional work. As

 

a leader, you are expected to do such

 

work; encourage others to do so too.

 


 

THINK AND ACT

 

STRATEGICALLY

 

First things first: You need to know

 

who you are. You can?t do anything

 

until you are comfortable with yourself

 

and confident in your position. Once

 

you?ve conquered you, then you can

 

lead others and make the necessary

 

changes to move your department forward. You must have your act together

 

and believe in yourself before you can

 

pre-sent anything to others. You must

 


 

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tions. Today?s fire service leadership

 

has no excuse not be on top of current information and technology. A fire

 

department in 2013 can?t operate like

 

it?s 1955. Successful leaders are part of

 

local, county, state, and national organizations so they can get what they need

 

to stay ahead or at least keep up. Chief

 

Charlie Dickinson, former administrator

 

of the United States Fire Administration,

 

once described ?The Five Horns? of a

 

fire chief: the department, the firefighters, public safety, politics, and integrity.

 

That last one says it all. If you give

 

up your integrity, you lose everything. If

 

you lie to your people and they find out,

 

they will never trust you again. Some

 

things you just can?t get back. Maintain

 

your integrity at all times. Your leadership legacy depends on it.

 

Part of thinking and acting strategically is consistency in how you handle

 

your people when things go right and

 

when things go wrong. It?s most important when things go wrong. Inconsistency can ruin a department, whether it?s

 


 

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? LEADERSHIP

 

allowing four different shifts to operate

 

four different ways or it?s preferring

 

charges against one volunteer when two

 

of them committed the bad act. Consistency is critical to keeping the ship not

 

only afloat but upright, on course, and

 

moving forward at all times. Leadership

 

makes the world move in a positive

 

direction, so contribute.

 

Training the troops, the staff, and

 

yourself and cross-training are the

 

hallmarks of strategic thinking. Fire

 


 

departments that don?t train or do very

 

little training are doing a disservice to

 

themselves and the community they

 

serve. In fact, it?s more important to do

 

more training when things are slow than

 

when they?re busy. When things slow

 

down, we tend to lose our edge.

 

A large city on the East Coast reported

 

an alarming rate of firefighter injuries

 

in the middle to late 1990s every night

 

on the news. I called a friend who was

 

a deputy chief at the time, who said,

 


 

?We?re losing our edge because the

 

number of fires is down. With the influx

 

of the new kids who haven?t seen a lot

 

of fire duty like we did in the 1970s and

 

1980s, we?re getting hurt. We need to do

 

more training.?

 

Present opportunities for training.

 

Take companies out of service if you

 

can. If you?re too small, get mutual aid

 

to cover you so you can get out and

 

train. If you?re a volunteer outfit, use a

 

neighboring company to cover your area

 

so you can get to the fire academy at

 

night or on a Saturday morning to get

 

in those live burn exercises. There are

 

many training ideas available through

 

online programs, books, and magazines.

 

Bring your members the resources they

 

need to train and get the job done. As a

 

leader, it?s your job.

 


 

DEVELOP YOUR STAFF

 

Your immediate staff are the people

 

who will help deliver your message or,

 

more importantly, your vision. You rely

 

on this group of senior officers every

 

day whether you?re in or out of town.

 

If you haven?t developed them to your

 

level, you?re cheating them and yourself.

 

Bosses that have ?held back information

 

because they can?t know what I know?

 

need to get out of this business.

 

You must delegate for development

 

purposes and stand behind them in case

 

they should trip and fall. Be there to

 

catch them, stand them up, and guide

 

them forward.

 

There are many tools that you can use

 

for staff development: setting specific

 

goals, offering constructive feedback,

 

rewarding performance, and encouraging training/personal development and

 

flexibility.

 

?You do not lead by hitting people

 

over the head. That?s assault, not leadership.??Dwight D. Eisenhower

 


 

____________________

 


 

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COMMUNICATIONS

 

This is the cornerstone of good

 

leadership. It must be clear and concise

 

to be effective. It?s almost like giving

 

fireground commands over the radio.

 

Almost. You must be consistently open

 

and effective to maintain your leadership. Part of this is dignity and respect;

 

yes, treat people as you would like to

 

be treated. Take the high road. Even

 

www.FireEngineering.com

 


 

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THE WORLD?S NEWSSTAND?

 


 

Fire Engineering

 


 

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THE WORLD?S NEWSSTAND?

 


 

? LEADERSHIP

 

when the team manager is kicking dirt

 

on his shoes and screaming profanity,

 

the umpire quietly takes his hand and

 

points to the top of the stadium indicating, ?You?re out of here.? Not that you

 

should throw the person out; remain

 

calm, evaluate the problem, and quietly

 

and effectively deal with it. Screaming

 

matches don?t work; you?ll bring yourself

 

down to a lower level where you needn?t

 

be. Show patience and courtesy even

 

when the other person does not. Here?s

 


 

where your leadership skills really kick

 

in again.

 

I had an employee more than 10 years

 

ago with whom I would have confrontations at least weekly. The louder he got,

 

the softer I got. I called him ?Mr. Smith?;

 

he called me unprintable names.

 

On the other side of communications,

 

keep the information flowing. So many

 

of my seminar attendees say, ?They tell

 

us nothing.? No excuses. Bulletin boards,

 

e-mail, chat room...

 


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