As a leader in the fire service, the people that you surround yourself with should be of the utmost importance. Invest, Influence, and Innovate.
Invest in people. When you invest in your staff, they feel valued as members of the organization and feel equally invested in carrying out the mission of that organization. Creating opportunities for professional development is a great investment to develop a staff of professionally invested people.
Influence people. Influencing people is a huge part of leadership. Creating opportunities for people to achieve helps build their investment. During my studies in management, I came across a theory called the Nudge which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as a way to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals. Properly utilizing this theory creates an environment of positive influence. Anyone can bark orders, but building people’s own decision-making abilities helps ensure that they have the tools to succeed on their own.
Inspire innovation. Firefighters are great at innovating but many are afraid of failure and/or criticism. Inspire your people to be innovative in the fire service. Don’t be afraid to be taken out of your comfort zone to try new things. Some innovation works and some does not, but if you have a culture where it is ok to try new things and possibly fail without losing motivation, then the benefits are endless.
At the end of the day, follow the words of Dr. Thompson’s Verbal Judo…
“People feel the need to be respected, People would rather be asked than told, People have a desire to know why, People prefer options over threats, and people want a second chance.
Universal City Fire Department (TX)