Reigniting Responsibility

Winston Churchill once said, "The price of greatness is responsibility." Many people gravitate toward leadership or supervisory positions for the "greatness" they think it will offer. Few embrace the true responsibility that comes with that greatness.


Winston Churchill once said, "The price of greatness is responsibility." Many people gravitate toward leadership or supervisory positions for the "greatness" they think it will offer. Few embrace the true responsibility that comes with that greatness. Personal responsibility is becoming more...


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My message of personal responsibility does not always go over well with some firefighters. I wrote an article for a southern California magazine and I received a five-page scathing e-mail from a firefighter who was appalled that I would tell firefighters to take responsibility and not hide behind the union. He said, "You mean to tell me that if you were convicted of a crime you would waive your legal right to an appeal?" I told him that if I was actually guilty of the crime and I got a fair trial the first time, I would not appeal and I would take the punishment. If the process was flawed or I was not provided a fair trial, I would certainly appeal. But just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical. Just because it is legal to claim "not guilty" when you are actually guilty doesn't make it right. I call that lying and working the system and I think it's wrong and it hurts society. I told him that I realized we had a fundamental difference in beliefs when it came to personal responsibility.

We now live in a society where personal responsibility is not high on the priority list. Irven Ball once said, "Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else." Exceptional leaders rise to the challenge of taking responsibility and ownership for their actions and mistakes. If you want to see your department become a benchmark for excellence, you will embrace this concept wholeheartedly.

KIMBERLY ALYN is a best-selling author and an international fire service speaker. She is the owner of Fire Presentations (www.FirePresentations.com), a company dedicated to presentations and training workshops for the fire service. Alyn works with fire departments across the country on firefighter and officer development, and is the author of 10 books and eight CD/DVD productions. She holds a bachelor's degree in management and a master's degree in organizational management. Alyn can be reached at 800-821-8116 or kim@firepresentations.com.