Over my 36 years of being involved in he fire service I have come to realize that leadership is much more than just a position. In fact leadership is a process that really has nothing to do with a position or rank but about a true desire to see others excel. For many years we used the terms management and leadership in the same context. However there is a significant difference. Management embraces status quo and focuses on processes and work not people. leadership deals with people and the dynamics associated with them high are ever changing as they grow and develop. With that said, the challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth thus stretching the person past their comfort zone. This is a fluid process in which movement is required. that movement is associated to going from one level of leadership to the next.
In today’s fire service we frequently associate leadership with rank or position. This can not be any further from the truth. Good leadership is not about advancing yourself. Good leadership is about focusing on your team or individuals you are mentoring and helping them become effective leaders and growing through their leadership development journey.
Many people mistake what leadership really is. When people follow you because they have to that is only the beginning. That is the world of the fire service is known as positional respect. This is a starting point that you want to move forward quickly from. This stage you are more of a boss than a leader. So how do you know you are here at this point and not further along? Well people follow you because they have to not because they want to. The difference between a boss and a leader is clear.
-A boss portrays they know everything where as a leader will make admit to mistakes.
-A boss tells people what to do where as a leader will show them how and when to do things.
-A boss criticizes you where as a leader will give advice and coach you on decisions.
-A boss gives orders where as a leader gives direction.
-A boss demands respect where as a leader will work to earn your respect.
-A boss rules with fear, intimidation and threats where as a leader shows respect and human kindness.
It is important to note that as a boss or manager subordinate personnel do what they have to to keep from getting in trouble and to meet the objective. When you are leader the subordinate personnel do what they do because they do not want to fail you or the system. They are striving to be pleasing in there efforts in your eyes. Truly a big difference between the two!
So with those as a few differences it is time to intra-inspect…where are you in this equation?
As you grow in your leadership you will move forward in leadership maturity. You will take those developed relationships up to the next level in which you inspire others. This is where people around you are growing and they are associated to following you for what you have done not only for them but what they can see your efforts have been for the entire organization. This is critical as you the leader should be focused on the mission and vision of the organization utilizing the most valuable resource at your disposal which is the people in the organization.
Want to learn more? Join me at FDIC International 2016 on Thursday 4/21/16 for “Developing the Next generation of Leaders”.