I have studied a number of books that have absolutely nothing to do with firefighting. But they have everything to do with creating a successful firefighting team.
The first is The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. This book deals with the serious problems caused by people who attempt to play games with other people. I first read in back in the 1960’s as a freshman in college. I have returned to it over the years in an attempt to understand the political world around me. It is a great read.
As one who took a degree in political science, this book was quickly found to be mandatory reading. While the author is attempting to explain how kingdoms were controlled back in the day, I saw a great deal of the real world in his words.
Think about the fire chief that creates a team of insiders (sometimes called the A-team). All good ideas come from the insiders. All bad ideas come from the swine that are too stupid to be a part of the A-team. This is a sure way to split your department right down the middle. You will have a few people who love you and a lot of people who will hate you. These are the types of leaders who are a real roadblock to success.
Another text that I would encourage you to acquire and read is The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. The author of this classic text shares a number of lessons he learned during the battles of his ancient time. One of his quotations speaks to the concept of never making unnecessary enemies. It was his thought that you will make sufficient enemies as you went through life. He suggested that you didn’t need to make any more than were absolutely necessary. But there are those people who live to anger everyone around them.
I want you to understand the deep and abiding impact that a leader can have upon every aspect of the lives of their people. Many of your decisions will be truly of a life or death nature. I am afraid that organizational roadblocks and lazy fire officers just see their people as numbers on an organizational chart. What other reason can explain why they spend so little time in taking care of the troops.
You must understand that inaction or ignorance of their personal well being can be just as devastating to a member of your fire department as an actual negative act, action or activity. You are expected to lead when you are in a position of leadership. Get out in front of the troops, set tone and set the pace. It can surely lead to great things.