My friends let me start this visit with you by making a simple declaration. I love studying about leadership. Just when you think you know it all, ten new theories are put forward. I just love being in this research battle for the newest and latest theory. In this discussion of the concept of Leadership, I am going to attempt to reach out and touch you. But it is not my intention to do it in the fine old, classic touchy-feely way of the telephone commercials of my youth.
It is my intention to do it in the attention-grabbing manner taught to me by my third grade teacher back in 1954. As I recall, she had this long-handled blackboard pointer. And when you committed some form of mistake, and the list was long and unpublished, she called you to the front of the class and gave you a whack.
Can you imagine how quickly this type of behavior would be handled today? They would hustle that lady out the front door in a flash and then take her to court. Was what she did to us little buddies all that bad? I think not, but you cannot use those types of methods in today's everyone succeeds feeding frenzy.
I have often used this example to show my parochial school buddies that “the educational smack” was something that was also used outside of the tightly knit sectarian world of the parochial institution. It might also give you pause to wonder why I would remember it so well, after so many years. I leave that to your imagination. (Hint – Use the word frequency.)
At this point, let me issue my warning. Bad leaders of the world, prepare to get a whack on the hands for the massive amount of pain and suffering that you are causing the troops under your care. You are the people who live to fulfill your own desires. You are the people too lazy to utter the word thank you now and again. You are the people too self-absorbed to care about those poor nameless, faceless souls who labor in the vineyards of your fire department.
I want you to know that I am not referring to those fine people who always put the concerns of their troops before their own. You have paid attention on your way through the ranks and have learned to love people. I have covered this concept time and again through my years as a writer, author, and lecturer. I have often written about the critical need for honesty as an integral part of the psyche of our most effective leaders. No, my friends, I am headed in a distinctly different direction this time.
How many people do you know personally who are in positions of leadership and who serve as nothing more than organizational roadblocks? Their sole function is to sit their big, fat, ugly butts in the middle of the bureaucratic road of your fire department. Their sole purpose in life seems to be stopping the flow of information and ideas. Their favorite operational concept involves the frequent use of the word 'no.'
They are also deathly afraid of thinking, and those people who actually know how to think. Many times they leave a good idea lying bloody on the side of the organizational road, just like a seal hunter would club a baby harp seal to death in the Arctic regions. Wake up gang, and start creating the next generation of leaders.
However, there is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. It seems as though there is a growing gap between the people of my generation and the newer members of the fire service. We, as a group, tend to look upon these younger whipper-snappers as interlopers in our well-ordered world. We think that they should do things like we do, “just because that’s the way things are.”
This creates a communications gap, between people who use the same words in the presence of each other, with different meanings attached to the verbiage. Many think this is an insoluble problem. I do not see it that way. I think that this gap can be bridged quite simply and easily by the simple mechanism of communications. But the parties have to be proactive. The organizational roadblock type of person is just too lazy to do a good job. But I see my experience as something that I can share with you, for our mutual benefit.