It has been said that we influence a number of people in our lifetime. Your circle of influence depends upon you as individuals and the area you may be in. It could depend upon the organization, rank structure, personal boldness or even other peoples’ willingness to be influenced. So with so many dimensions why is this so important? Well I want you to take a short period here and think about all of the people who come to mind in the next couple of minutes and see just how many people in all aspects of your life have influenced you. It has been said that we all influence at least 250 people in your lifetime. We influence others by what we say and do, as well as, how we do our work better known as the quality of our work.
The dynamics of leadership provides the opportunity for fire officers to look at the way their character creates their state of being and how those choices effect and guide the men and women they lead. By understanding, learning and embracing these principles, values and skills will address how each individuals limitations are the limits to the growth of their organization. Developing new perspectives and character will allow you as an officer or leader to begin to build new paths to personal and organizational excellence. Initiating personal change at the character level is by far difficult. However if change is initiated it will allow the participants to become more dynamic, visionary, exceptional leaders and expand their company’s opportunities and success. The ability to change and grow is a tremendous asset every leader must have.
In this series of articles we will be exploring the dynamics of leadership from a multi-dimensional view. We will examine the following components of leadership: principles, values and skills.
I want to start off by exploring the leadership principle: Loyalty. I and not sure if it is just me, or has loyalty become rather scarce these days? I know that recently I was able to visit a colleague, Chris Pepler and our conversation over lunch was wrapped all around this concept. It seems to be a common theme as it was discussed on several occasions at a recent conference. We see it with our society everyday as people job hop. We also know that there is less and less of this in the fire service with a lot of lip service given to the brotherhood concept. Anyone who’s been in fire service leadership for any length of time has likely had to dodge daggers and has pulled a few knives out of their back. Bottom line ““ there seems to be way too much focus on “me” and not enough focus on “we” these days. Another words it is important to remember it is about the organization and the organization is made up of every person in it.
Dictionary.com defines loyalty as the state of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations, faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc., an example or instance of faithfulness, adherence or the like. Dictionary.com goes on to list synonyms for loyalty as: fealty, devotion, allegiance, fidelity which all imply a sense of duty or of devoted attachment to something or someone.
So it is important that leaders, as well as followers, be loyal to each other, the organization and the common cause. But further it is important to understand that loyalty has several different components which have impacts on everything. There are two predominant types of loyalty; trust based and fear based. It is important that as a leader you do a self-assessment on your loyalty meter. Do you have loyalty from your subordinates and coworkers because of your title, power or your authority, aka fear based loyalty or have you earned it by gaining the trust and respect of these individuals.
I know that often I hear people say if you need something you call me or if I can help you in any way just let me know. My question is not if you have ever said that as a leader but if you really mean it. I know that I have worked under, for and with many leaders who have made those types of statements. When they are doing this in the statement they are extending a reciprocal law of loyalty to your employees and subordinates. However you must follow through when that offer is cashed in. I have learned over the years that no one care how much you know until they know how much you care. They are looking for loyalty and someone to trust. It is important that you are loyal to people in general. Your professional life and your personal life are closely connected whether you want to admit it or not. Your personality shows no matter where you are. In the principle of leadership, loyalty is critical as if you want people to be loyal to you, you must be loyal to them.
It is important to realize that Leadership is about “LESS”.
Energy and Enthusiasm
It is important to put forward servant leadership, putting people first over your wants and needs.
Along with loyalty comes a component of honesty. It is important that you be brutally honest with people. It is important we be honest in that we should tell people the truth in all cases. The delivery of that is the key component. I have had leaders who could give you the worst of the worst, even if it was about you, and still make you feel good and want to continue forward. It made you want to do more for them. I had a wise old mentor who gave me a piece of advice, Tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, then help them with whatever they need to be successful. Presentation again is everything here.
Great leaders listen, give advice, guidance and access to opportunities for success. In return those dynamic individuals will give back hard work, respect, quality efforts and deference. At this point you have loyalty!