Marketing ICS: Servant Leadership in the Fire and Emergency Services

Firehouse.Com Marketing ICS Ben May Marketing Leadership Series A Question of...

type='node' cid='363467' /> Firehouse.Com Marketing ICS Ben May Marketing Leadership Series A Question of Character: Creating a Framework for Servant Leadership in the Fire and Emergency Services The greatest leader forgets himself And 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." Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching 600 BC

True effectiveness in any aspect of marketing will lie in the quality of the results for the customer. True quality will almost always be reflected in the essential truth of the mission, vision and values of the organization. The underlying premise here is that an organization that is very closely aligned with its mission, vision and values will perform outstandingly. This is very important in marketing public services because the care of every citizen is at stake, not just a few, segmented markets. The concern is even more critical in the delivery of emergency services. What this means for the fire department is not only going well beyond excellent service in handling immediate incidents -- fire suppression, EMS, etc. -- but creating a safe haven for the community which speaks to the overall prevention and wellness of each citizen.

But there is a much bigger issue at stake in the fire and emergency services. It is the firefighter and how he or she sees him or herself. This is very different than in other professions. Firefighters embark on a mission to put themselves between harm and the citizen at a moment's notice. The firefighter is the quintessential model of a human tool that must be in the best physical, mental and emotional shape to achieve the mission of protecting their community.

There is an added dimension: the firefighter's cause; who he or she is seen through the eyes of the community and, especially, in his or her own eyes, as performing a noble mission. The pressure that this can exert on the individual firefighter is enormous. It is one of creating and raising very high expectations -- those of the department, one's own shift and one's best buddy. Not to mention those of one's family. Attention to the individual firefighter is one of the keys to ensuring a safe community. This kind of thinking, about the individual firefighter, has been an essential part of our heritage since the origins of the profession. If the goal of exceptional standards of excellence begins with the individual firefighter, how do we, as leaders, begin a process to bring this care to reality? It begins with our firefighters' character and their hearts. It begins with the nature of relationships -- with oneself, with the department's teams and, then, with the community. Some months ago here in Florida I had the pleasure of meeting a mental health professional, the wife of a close friend, who mentioned to me that she had begun working with the Osceola County Fire Department on the creation of a program dedicated to servant leadership. She mentioned that the newly appointed chief, Richard Collins, had requested that she consider taking on this project so that he could knit together a much more effective department for his firefighters and for the community. After I met Chief Collins and became better acquainted with Joanne, I came to believe that this program could make a major contribution to the overall mission of not only XXXOsceola Fire and Rescue, but to other departments. What does this have to do with marketing the mission of the fire service? Everything.

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