Start the New Year by Resetting Your Moral Compass

We are at the beginning of yet another new year. Was it not just Jan. 3 1, 2011? As I grow older, I begin to see the wisdom imparted to me by a senior buddy years ago. He told me that in many ways life is like a roll of toilet paper. He told me that the...

Your efforts must always be sincere and unselfish. You must never be perceived as working your people hard in an effort for you to look good and take all of the credit for their blood, sweat, and tears. People will think much more of you if you treat them in a fair and tactful manner. I have often been told that the working definition of tact goes something like this. It is the ability of a person to tell someone to go to Hell, but to do it in such a straightforward and respectful manner as to send them on their way happy to make the journey for you.

Let me suggest that it is a compilation of all the preceding attributes which allows you to reach the ultimate level of success. This is the point at which your people trust you. They have faith in your abilities and know in their hearts that you will do nothing which could consciously cause them harm. Faith and trust are at the apex of the leadership success.

Lastly, let me suggest that each of us individually must have faith in something. I know what I believe and why I believe in it. I have spent my life learning about my relationship with the Lord. The Lord is my strength and support. He is the rock upon whom I have built the house which is my life. No my friends, I am not seeking to convert you or evangelize you. You can choose the type and manner of your faith and the nature of your rock. However, I am just suggesting that there must be a central core of beliefs to guide you on your journey through life.

It never hurts to take stock of yourself and your talents. You must also assess the nature of your team and their capabilities. These two tasks should occupy a great deal of your time and talent as a leader. Unless you periodically reset your internal compass, you risk losing your way and damaging your team. Please take the time to do this. Thank you.

What better time to take stock of yourself and reset your moral compass than at the beginning of a new year. That time is now.

Please accept my best wishes for a Safe and Happy New Year.

HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Follow Harry on his A View From my Front Porch blog. He recently published several texts, including Leadership: A View from the Trenches and Living My Dream: Dr. Harry Carter's 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip. You can reach Harry by e-mail at