The Courage Required of a New Leader

In time, I have learned that the most important component in being a leader at any level is being on board and supporting the efforts of the organization.

Don't Let Your Confusion Influence Your Obedience
With any successful department comes a strong vision. This vision is generally set forth by the fire chief. As a young or aspiring officer, you must embrace that vision. Think about it. If the leader has no idea what the organization is to become, he or she cannot expect the people to know. No vision causes misalignment and confusion among the members of the organization. Not supporting that vision is just as detrimental to the organization and your leadership ability.

Vision is in direct proportion to accomplishment. The more you envision, the more that can be accomplished. I know by now you are saying this is not how it works! Well, I used to think that as well. I used to see my vision instead of the department's vision. The end result was a catastrophic failure personally and a drag line slowing the organization down.

Have the courage to obey leadership and the mission. These folks are probably not as stupid as you want to believe. There are many factors that play into the formula that you may not be privileged to know or even understand. Again fighting, questioning or rowing against the forward progression can result in a delayed or failed mission.

If you are beginning to see the light as a young or aspiring officer or you are an officer who is trying desperately to mentor a young counterpart, you may be asking yourself "What do I do now?" Well it is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Refocus on the department and the mission - Begin by putting the department first. As you do this and the success of the department occurs, you will see that your success increases proportionally. By being diligently focused on being a team player in leadership you will see that you will develop good qualities and traits. Most of all you will gain respect as you have the whole at heart rather than you as an individual.
  2. Release a gift - Each individual has a gift to give. It is the desire to share that gift that doesn't always exist. Start thinking of the department more than yourself. By devoting your talents to the department and others you will reap the rewards. Ask not what the department can do for you, but what you can do for the department is a good philosophy to follow.
  3. Reach out to everyone - Your ability to help others supports the true mission of the fire service: "to protect and serve."

By taking responsibility for your actions and taking some of the heat off of the team, the department will be able to excel to great level. Most importantly, you are part of the solution, not part of the problem that leads to failure.

DOUGLAS K. CLINE, a Contributing Editor, is a 28-year veteran and student of the fire service is the training commander with the High Point, NC, Fire Department. Cline is the first vice president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and is a well known international speaker presenting a myriad of programs. Chief Cline is also a highly published author, including Company Officer Test Preparation Guide Book with a scenario training DVD. He served as the technical content adviser and contributing author for the Rapid Intervention Company Operations text published by Delmar Cengage Learning. Chief Cline is the host of's Training & Tactics Talk podcast series and was a guest on The Leader's Toolbox podcast on Radio@Firehouse. To read Douglas' complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Douglas by e-mail at