A Question of Character

The greatest leader forgets himselfAnd attends to the development of others. Good leaders support excellent workers. Great leaders support the bottom ten percent. Great leaders know that The diamond in the rough Is always found "in the rough...


"The chief hopes that the outcome of the program will be a more respectful department, where firefighters feel cared about and more committed to the department, feel more of a 'heart connection to the department,' all because of the relationships formed with their immediate supervisors as a result of the program. This is a concern, because studies tell us in today's workplace many young people are leaving their jobs not because of the organization but because they don't feel that their immediate supervisor 'gets them.' So they will move on. The fear is with this happening, we could lose young men and women who have the potential of being great at their jobs. In a career where experience is a vital resource, we can't afford a revolving door of young people coming into the organization just to leave a few years later. A connection needs to be made with them, so they feel the desire and fulfillment to commit to the organization long term."

Strategic Planning

One of the benefits of the program has been the creation of a foundation for strategic planning."Our first session identified the importance of vision, mission, and values to servant leadership," he continued. "All participants were asked to answer questions on these topics. This generated discussion on what participants believed the vision of the department should be. It also identified core values deemed integral to the department.

The questionnaires were collected and results shared in the second session. In that session another discussion was lead to further refine and collect opinions on the values of the organization. Those results are currently being finalized and will be incorporated into the department's vision, mission and value statements. Once leadership identifies common core values and a shared vision, they begin to lead themselves towards the organizational goals. It contributes to the possible next steps in the formation of the department's strategic plan."

Your Next Move

This is a brief overview of a direct application of the servant leadership model to the fire service. Fire Rescue, with assistance from the Human Resources Department and Turning Point Counseling/Consulting, have developed a 12-hour training program on servitude leadership. This program explains servitude leadership, habits and skills to develop these leadership skills, communication techniques and mentoring skills to build up those you serve. Following the program, department leadership will continue to meet with officer and managers in one-on-one mentoring sessions.

BEN MAY, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, has been developing the discipline of fire and emergency services marketing management for the past 15 years. He has been a firefighter for Montgomery County, MD, Fire and Rescue and fire commissioner for the Woodinville, WA, Fire and Life Safety District. He has been a vice president of two international marketing firms over the last 25 years, and now is responsible for business development for Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Ben writes the Burning Passion blog and was a guest on the Six Days, Six Fires, 19 Children and 9 Adults Killed podcast on Radio@Firehouse.com. You can reach Ben by e-mail at benjaymay@gmail.com.