Insight is a quality that may take years to develop. Leaders must have insight into their organizations mission statement, a real understanding of exactly what it is that we are supposed to be doing, and who we are supposed to be doing it for. The mission of the average fire department is to provide emergency service to those that require assistance with sudden dangerous, unhealthy or inconvenient situations. Most of us, leaders and non-leaders alike can pretty easily recognize the situations where our assistance is required.
Sometimes not all of us can see why we were called to handle a specific situation, especially at 3am, and we would like to withhold service. Like a leaking water faucet, in a tub, at 3am on a Monday morning. A firefighter that is worn out from working at two fires in the past 5 hours might not want to deal with the faucet call, but the teams leader, the lieutenant will surely recognize the fact that this is an emergency to the caller and it needs to be handled. Every firefighter in every department realizes that we have to attack a fire in a bedroom, but dealing with the less than urgent or not so important calls for assistance are the territory of the true leader.
Interest in what is going on, how it is being done, and who is doing the work is another important hallmark of leadership. To be actually and genuinely interested in the work at hand is mandatory for effective leadership. How could anyone expect the "leader" of a group or company to produce good results if they are not interested in what is going on or what the outcome will be? Another term of having an interest in something is "caring". If the boss does not care about what is being done, he will probably not be providing leadership of any value. This is not to say that the job won't get done right by the poor leaders subordinates, because it just may happen that way. In this case, the leadership position will shift to one of the subordinate workers, one who cares about what they are doing, and the work will get done. The boss is not always the leader!
Inspiration is hard to put your finger on but when it's there it's hard to hold onto with both arms. Inspiration is a thought or feeling that drives us to take action. Inspiration is an internal drive that helps or even forces us to get up and get something done. Arriving at a working fire and confronted by a parent who states their child id trapped in the house is a moment full of inspiration.
Reviewing the after action report of a fire department operation where a firefighter or civilian is injured or killed because of a lack of procedure, product or personnel could inspire a person to take further action such as request changes to take place or equipment to be provided. Leaders must posses this inspiration and nurture it in their people as well. Having one person on the team inspired will not produce very good results. The people that lead their teams must constantly inspire everyone around them to achieve and even lead themselves.
Intensity is a quality that not all leaders have, but one that all great leaders need. Intensity is the level, the speed, the height, the depth, the drive to get the job done and to get it done right, exactly right! Everyone knows of a firefighter or lieutenant in their fire department who is intense. Not the guy who is anal that nobody wants to work with, but the guy that everybody wants to work with. The guy who is the first to get up from the coffee break to get back to testing the hose, the guy who will stay out on the apparatus floor until midnight, fixing a roof saw that broke that evening, the guy that builds a training prop in the firehouse so the new firefighters can learn a critical skill.
Add this quality of intensity to the company's leader and you can see the level of performance, dedication and efficiency go through the roof. Additionally, when the leader of a group is intense about his work and the mission of the group, it is contagious. Before long, others in the group will be exhibiting similar behaviors and the level of participation and achievement will flourish.
Information is an important element of any business but it is vital in the fire rescue service. Information about buildings, procedures, manpower, apparatus availability, tactics, response routes and dozens of other equally important topics must be transmitted to every member of every team or company. This information sharing can be as simple as roll call exchange of information at the beginning of a tour, or it can be a notification to other companies about a dangerous condition uncovered in a building that other fire companies may encounter. It can be notifying the firefighters about an upcoming lieutenants exam or sharing study tips that they can use to score high and get promoted.