The Fire Station Pyramid of Success

Mark Emery continues this series about Coach John Wooden's model of success with Part 5 - Leadership and a Legacy of Professional Excellence.


Part 5 - Leadership and a Legacy of Professional Excellence Live and lead according to the principles of the Fire Station Pyramid of Success, and others will follow. Near the apex of the Fire Service Pyramid of Success are the final two blocks: poise and confidence . Coach John Wooden, on...


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Part 5 - Leadership and a Legacy of Professional Excellence

Live and lead according to the principles of the Fire Station Pyramid of Success, and others will follow.

Near the apex of the Fire Service Pyramid of Success are the final two blocks: poise and confidence. Coach John Wooden, on whose Pyramid of Success this series is based, believed these two blocks to be the natural byproduct of the personal attributes established by the previous three levels:

Level one - Industriousness, enthusiasm, loyalty, friendliness and cooperation

Level two - Self-control, alertness, initiative and intentness

Level three - Condition, skill and team spirit

In other words, without a rock-solid foundation established by level one, without the character traits established by level two and without the preparation established by level three; it is impossible to experience the poise and confidence of leadership that is achieved at Level Four. Poise and confidence represent the leadership-actualization benefits that have been enabled by the Fire Station Pyramid of Success. The removal of any of the previous 12 blocks make leadership poise and confidence impossible to achieve and maintain.

Poise and Confidence

As mentioned, authentic poise and confidence is impossible until you have established - and personify - the first three levels of the pyramid. This is why the exact sequence of Coach Wooden's original pyramid is so important. We started with the foundation (Firehouse®, February 2008), developed level two (Firehouse®, March 2008), last month developed level three and this month I introduce level four - the leadership level - that will enable the poise and confidence necessary to foster a culture of professional excellence. Each level builds upon, and is supported by, the level below. Remember: with your Fire Station Pyramid of Success complete, the manifestation of genuine leadership will be seamlessly monolithic and interdependent, not simply a stack of independent characteristics and behaviors.

Preparation is an essential component of developing poise and confidence. The second and third levels of your pyramid involve character and preparation. Burning fire station daylight aerodynamically reclined watching daytime TV will not prepare you or your "team" for success. Your fire station leadership will wither and your master craftsman fire officer image will fade; as each hour of "dine and recline" becomes easier and easier, it will become a malignancy that consumes the professional culture of your crew and your fire station. Please, do not surrender your fire station leadership to a recliner and the (aptly named) idiot box.

There is no shortcut to poise, confidence and professional excellence. Once you have built and secured three solid levels of your pyramid, you are prepared to lead; because you "have what it takes" to lead, you will personify poise and confidence.

Personal Leadership

Rising along the left side of your pyramid are three blocks that ascend directly to poise: industriousness (at the foundation), self-control (at level two) and condition (at level three). Coach Wooden had a simple definition of poise: the ability to simply be yourself. At-ease-in-any-situation poise requires personal leadership; you can be yourself when you have ascended each block of personal leadership by being industrious, practicing self-control, and having mental, moral and physical conditioning.

Considering the four blocks of personal leadership in reverse, from the top down, it is impossible to have authentic poise unless you are conditioned to the best of your ability; you will never be conditioned to the best of your ability unless you possess self-control; you will never personify self-control unless you exemplify the foundation cornerstone industriousness. The manifestation of poise is the direct result of condition, self-control and industriousness. There is no quick and easy shortcut to personal leadership. Personal leadership is not a performance that requires an audience; evidence of mature personal leadership is what you do when nobody is around.

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