A good way to evaluate yourself on leadership is to look back at the response and see how self-motivated you are. Did someone need to tell you everything that needed done? By this point you should have a good idea on the tasks that need completed. Did your officer need to tell you to street roll the hose or to restock the EMS bag? While you were doing these tasks did you grab some of your firefighters to help you? These are some small steps toward true leadership and start placing you in the officer frame of mind.
The junior high school period is also a good time to seek out help with a skill that continues to give you trouble. For example, you have run a few fires where you have had trouble with pulling a ceiling. You are having trouble mastering the technique of using a pike pole and gave yourself a C. This is a good time to seek out some help before you are expected to lead. Where do you start? With today's technology driven age start with a Google search! You might be surprised by the things you can learn from the internet. If that doesn't provide the answer's that you are looking for you may need to go back and find an instructor from your past to help you. Remember that we are striving to make A's and while we may never make straight A's we sure are trying hard to make that goal happen!
How are the grades looking now? The junior high days have come to a rapid conclusion, you have achieved your goal as you have now passed your national registry test and you are now a paramedic. Congratulations, you deserve a big pat on the back. With your completion of the program your grades must have been good, but how good? Let's say that you are at a B level. That is a great starting spot, comfortable, but not cocky is a good place to start your paramedicine career. But how was your leadership grade? Hopefully you are at a C level because the promotion test is next week and you ready to tackle it? Watch out high school here I come!
High School (Years 9 - 15): The Mature Phase
Welcome to the high school years for your fire service career! You have made your way from a new student to the time where the real learning and experience transforms you from a teenager to an adult. With that in mind how are they similar? Well, by this time you should be ready to step into an officer position. A junior officer in the fire service is usually where the leadership responsibilities start. You have studied and passed the test, made your move from the jumpseat to the front seat, and now what? Well, it's time to take the lead and direct your crew. It is a hard transition for some people to make, but hopefully due to your report card you should be well prepared.
First thing is first. When switching from a follower to a leader role is the need to establish what kind of leader do you want to be. Do you want to be old school or new school or a mixed bag of both? Maybe a good leader mixes the old with the new. There are appropriate times to use both philosophies but knowing when is what makes a good leader great. For example, while making sure station duties and truck checks are done is fine and good to use the understanding role as a leader. These are important roles and responsibilities but under these circumstances an easy going approach is welcome. Switch gears and put you and crew on the scene of a house fire and things become a little more dependent. There are certain things that must be completed and tasks accomplished while keeping a close watch on everyone's saftey. Although having your crew be able to think by themselves is great, there are times when everyone must also be directed to perform. A old school drill instructor can be used at this point to accomplish the goal and following department sop's . Each style of leadership can be chosen but always remember that the young firefighters are building their impressions from your performance. So what would be your grade on leadership? This is when you can lean on your followers to asign your grade. If they listen and give you 100 percent you deserve that A, but if they are having a hard time following your directions and seem resistant it may be time to reevaluate and try a different style.