A successful leader must be honest with themselves and crew members while maintaining a sense of loyalty.
Leaders need to be honest with the people they are supervising. Honest in their ability to lead them. Your people need to know what your experience is and isn't. They will be able to figure out if you're faking. We spoke of that in our discussion on building trust. People won't trust you if they think you are faking or worse, lying. If the leader is not getting it done he or she probably can't because they don't know how. This is a failure because they are not honest enough with themselves to admit it.
As a leader your people are expecting a certain level of performance from you. If you cannot deliver what they expect they will resent you. Then you will lose any respect that may come from your position as a leader. I have always said, "It is better to let them know then let them down." Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It shows a certain level of confidence in that I know that I don't know everything, but I do know where to find the answer. It also means I respect the people I work with to have the answer. They will help you if you let them.
Your failure is a reflection on them as well. Their work is a reflection on your leadership. If they screwed up you screwed up. Do not cast blame on them. A leader who blames his or her people is insecure. There may be several reasons for the mistake. Some of them may be directly related to you. Were your orders misunderstood? Were they unsafe? Do they conflict with standing policies and procedures? Could it be you have not trained them to perform that particular task? Regardless of the reason why, the point still remains: if they screw up you have screwed up.
A leader must be loyal to the people they lead. Being loyal to your firefighters means standing up for them when they screw up and taking the hit. Sometime in your career your people will screw up. It's natural, we're human, and we all make mistakes. If you have trained them properly, these events will be few and far between. When it does occur a poor leader will blame everyone, but themselves. A good leader accepts the blame for his firefighters and moves on. A confident leader accepts correction and criticism as a means of self-improvement and then he goes back and corrects it. If your people are unaware they made a mistake they can't be expected to correct it. You as the leader are responsible for their continued poor performance if you fail to take action to correct it.
Correcting your members should then be done at an appropriate time. Corrective action should be taken as soon as possible after the event while it is still fresh in their minds. This does not mean embarrassing someone in front of others. "Punish in private, praise in public" is what works for me. As difficult as it is to tell people they've made a mistake you must be honest with them and make them understand it is not personal.
A leader that takes the credit when his or her members make noticeable accomplishments is also insecure. You may have taught them to do the work but they did it. Recognize them for it. Your superiors will see what you have done and notice you for it.
If they do well, you all did well. It must be recognized. We will discuss appropriate ways of rewarding good behavior when we get to the article on saying "thank you."
Integrity is an integral part of honesty. Integrity is what guides a person when no one is watching. It is their moral compass. They do what they do because it is the right thing to do. Integrity is what drives people who are loyal and honest. It is essential for people who are public servants. The civilians you serve should be confident in your ability and never question your integrity. Most of the time as firefighters, you will be interacting with civilians when they are the most vulnerable. They need to be assured that you are there to help them, not help yourself. The thought that the responding members could compromise a persons' life or property is appalling. The integrity of firefighters is a sacred trust.