Riding the Right-Front Seat: "Leadership Landmines"

It is critical for those riding the right-front seat to remember that, above all else, you are in a position of leadership. You can never ignore that if you hope to be successful as a tactical leader in your fire department. In line with that...


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• Help others to overcome their problems and frustrations; this will make you feel better too.

• If you are religious, pray for guidance (not patience)

• Try your best to keep a happy outlook, in spite of your troubles and travails

Sometimes, a smile can get you through a rough patch of road. Heck, I have even seen times when a smile can make the other side mad enough to go away. Mission accomplished.

Location can be an easy or a difficult part of your landmine-mapping strategy. If you like where you work, then many things that may be annoying will not be a distraction. If you like the people with whom you work, the same holds true. However, if you hate where you work and dislike your co-workers, life tends to assume a very dark and menacing coloration. This is one of those times to fall back on an age-old warning: “What goes around comes around.”

As surely as night follows day, you will discover that there are both good and bad assignments. If you have a bad assignment, buck up and hope for a transfer. If you have a good assignment, just say thank you. Enjoy your time and write down what makes the assignment so fine. In that way, you can use your notes to make your future assignments that much better.

 

The “one-way streets”

There are people I call “one-way streets,” and you may not be familiar with this concept. Let me explain. This term applies to people who always want things to run their way. They are self-centered and have no tolerance for ideas put forward by others. These selfish people are not team players, for they fail to work for the good of their group.

As long as one-way streets get their own way, they pose no problems to you as a fire service leader, but how long can it really go that way in any fire department? Unfortunately, when these people fail to get their own way, they work hard to make life miserable for everyone around them. There does not appear to be a cure for the disease these people cause within an organization. If one of them happens to be your boss, you may be in trouble. The only way to survive is to avoid that person as much as possible.

 

The “expressways”

Also trouble are the “expressways” in your life. “Expressways” constitute a small group of people who always seem to be on their way to somewhere. No matter what task you give them, they run in search of whatever it is that they are looking for. Forget what you ask them to do; they are going to search for what they want. Maybe you will have a clue as to what they are seeking and maybe you won’t. Rest assured that whatever it is they want trumps what you want them to accomplish. These people will be a true challenge to your command skills, since they will not be working from the same script as the rest of the team.

 

The “antiquarians”

The people I call “antiquarians” are those who actively seek the cloying comfort of the past. Sometimes, they are active; at other times, they are not. In either case, they are working to maintain the past as their present and future. To these people there is but one meaning to the word “change” and it involves small sums of money: coins. These people can become an active roadblock to the efforts of your fire department to meet the needs of the future. They can come up with a dozen ways to justify staying just the way you are, rather than updating or changing your operation.

“Passive antiquarians” are people who pay great attention to the past. Actually, they can become tremendous resources for their collective knowledge of the corporate past of your organization. They see the value of learning about the past and building on it, rather than ignoring the lessons of those who went before us. I have a number of friends who serve this most important facet of future planning.

 

The “button-pushers”

The last leadership landmine in this commentary may well be the worst. These are the “button-pushers.” These are the troops who know what it takes to make the leader lose his or her temper. The first type is the “unconscious button-pusher.” They just seem to know how to make the boss angry. I do not think they have actual ill will in their hearts; they are just good at angering the boss.