LeDuc: How Mentors Can Impact the Fire Service

Firehouse.com would like to welcome Todd J. LeDuc as our newest blogger. LeDuc is a division chief with Broward County Fire Rescue in Florida. Keep watching for his blogs under "LeDuc's Look" on Firehouse.com.

Increasingly a generational turnover is taking roots at all levels of the American fire service. According to Inc. Magazine, leadership consists of characteristics that others desire and even follow. Some examples are:

“If you want to be a great leader, you must develop great vision.”

  • Great Leaders are able to see what’s coming.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the best in others.
  • Great Leaders are able to see pitfalls.
  • Great Leaders are able to spot leadership potential in others.
  • Great Leaders are able to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the writing on the wall.
  • Great Leaders are able to see successors for themselves and others.
  • Great Leaders are able to see the story behind the story.
  • Great Leaders are able to see The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
  • Great Leaders are able to see things a little sooner and a little more clearly than others.

“You must be able to see the invisible in order to receive the impossible.”

It is important to assess within your organization how many key staff members possess these qualities and characteristics. If you are at a great loss to identify more than a few, your organization has some work to undertake for assuring long term success. In fact, many successful companies that have been built around a single or only several great leaders fail when that leader is no longer at the helm. That should provide all organizations the motivation and justification to embrace successful mentoring programs for long term organization success.

According to Human Capital Review there are numerous reasons that mentoring programs either fail in an organization or do not take root. Many of these reasons revolve around organizational beliefs and cultures that employees should learn themselves and come up the corporate ladder through their own development, just as is often the case those that came before them. Of course, the great irony of that though processes experiential learning is invaluable and works both vertically as well as horizontally within an organization.

I recently had a rather complicated oral surgery procedure performed by one of the leading oral surgeons in the nation. It was obvious from his academic credentials, publishing, peer review and tenure that he had gained much experiential lessons learned. During the hour procedure it as obvious he enjoyed imparting this to those younger colleagues that surrounded him, in hopes of transferring knowledge and wisdom that is not always obvious or easily found. This event happens in clinical teaching settings globally on a daily basis. However, why does this same practice not occur in every organization daily? The reality is it takes effort and a constant thirst for knowledge, learning for others successes and perhaps even more importantly their failures. The attributes of great leaders listed earlier in this article can more often be learned by experiential learning than didactic studies, and sometimes a combination of both being more synergistic.

Excellent programs are on the role of mentoring with the fire service are currently opportunities such as through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Formalized mentoring programs combined with daily experiential learning prepare organizations for long lasting success. 

Feel free to leave any comments below.

If you are a fire chief, learn about the special Fire Chief's Appreciation Pass that is available for Firehouse World in San Diego, Feb. 17 - 20.

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