Are We All on the Same Page?

Just the other day I wrote an in-depth article for Firehouse magazine. The topic of this article involved a common-sense presentation of the findings of my doctoral dissertation. I felt that the academic version should be translated into the language of...

The best way to do this is to discover where your people stand. Let them know what you think and how you feel. Then work to achieve a consensus. Sometimes it helps the group to understand why they must move from their extremely comfortable present to a seemingly changed and disquieting future. Sometimes the leader is presented with another way to solve a problem. You can only do these sorts of things through the process of periodic team meetings.

This is the type of thought that I share with my students during my course on organizational change. The first thought I try to instill in my students early on during the class is that nothing is as permanent as change. There are basically two ways to handle change my friends. You can assume that it will happen and plan for it, or you can ignore it and be blown about like a leaf during a windstorm.

Perhaps it is this failure to understand change, combined with a modicum of false pride that stokes the fires of organizational discontent created by far too many leaders. It might also explain how people can end up playing the concert of their lives with a huge number of wrong notes. Thus it is that people who do not like what they see vote with their feet, if they can.

I hope that this explanation meets the needs of my buddy in Massachusetts. He asked for some help and guidance. Perhaps he and his associates should approach their fire chief and discuss the number of discordant notes that seem to be coming from their organizational band.

It is my hope that these words may help those of you facing similar challenges in your fire department. I think it would be a real shame for the members of your department to stand up and walk out on a bad leader, thus voting with their feet.

Let me close with a simple thought. Most bad leaders do not recognize their shortcomings. They fail to recognize they are bad leaders. You will need to be patient, honest, and forthright in your approach to them. Let me assure you that your efforts will not always be met with ringing approbation by the boss. However, you need to do what is right. For you see, it is your life that must be lived by you. Better to enjoy life than hate it. Your call my friends.