I want to talk about…. what is brotherhood? Plain and simple. Brotherhood is treating others like family. In a family, sometimes you’re there to prepare people and make them better. Sometimes you’ve got to be hard on them. Sometimes you just need to be there for them. I think a lot of that gets lost. Sometimes people think it’s not their job. We’re just co-workers and I think that’s the wrong attitude because not everyone grows up the same.
Some of you might have grown up with a construction background while others didn’t. Some of you might have grown up in a background with computers while others didn’t. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I hear a lot of guys saying it’s not my job to turn him into a man. Yes, it is. That’s the difference. That’s this profession. We are a family. Everyone comes in with a basic knowledge from the academy, very basic. It’s up to the crews to develop them further.
Too often we think everyone should be a certain skill level right when they walk in the door but most of us, it took us 10, 15, 20 years to know what we know now. That new guy walking in doesn’t know. I think we’re too hard on them not realizing they just don’t know better yet and that’s part of building that environment and culture in your department of that family atmosphere and taking care of each other. You never know when you’re going to fall on hard times.
It doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to stuff. You’ve got to deal with things. You can’t avoid conflict but I think that’s the part that’s lost too often is not trying to take care of people and give them the tools necessary so they can even help themselves.
Something I’ve seen lately, a couple new guys we’ve had coming in, they probably lacked a strong father figure growing up. You can tell that with just some of the regular handy skills around the station while others had that. It’s always about sharing, sharing what we’ve got, helping people out to be a little bit better and putting that extra effort out there. If you’re coming in doing the bare minimum, you can’t expect to get very good results from it or be complaining about administration if you come in and just get by. I think too many people also put in the minimum and they expect different results to go on. Right now, my agency, we have, our number one chief is retiring end of January and our number two chief’s retiring end of February so our city manager say he’s going to look outside for a chief. I’ve heard people state, nothing’s going to change. That’s unfortunate because those are the same people that do the same thing every day and they don’t understand that they can change what their doing to get the results they want to see.
I can speak at my station and actually, the guy that relieves me, we do things differently than most of the others do. That’s just with training every day, clear expectations, and working with each other. Not everyone does that. That’s not saying that the rest don’t but a lot of them aren’t as clear on everything that they want to get done, doing riding assignments and practicing game plays for when you get the big fire. I’m looking forward to see what this outside chief might bring. Anything is possible. You can change anything you want but you have to do something different.
The brotherhood’s there. It’s always been and always will be for the guys that give it. You’ve got to give the effort to receive the effort. If you don’t take care of your people, they’re not going to want to take care of you.
Lets talk succession training. It always seems to be a hot topic when a bunch of firefighters get together. There is either a lack thereof or something that they always want to see happen within their departments.
I see as there’s two types of succession training. There’s formal and informal. Formal is going to be at department programs, maybe some larger agencies might be common. Even smaller ones are starting to get it. You got to go through this program. It’s 40 hours, one day, two days. Sometimes it’s mandatory, sometimes you’re just there to learn. That’s the formal part. I think that’s what everyone wants is a formal part. What we don’t realize is we all have an informal succession training going on with all our departments. We don’t have a formal succession training in my agency. We’re working on that though. The informal is what we have right now and what lot of places do.
What’s the informal? Informal is you lead by example. If you’re the engineer it’s the firefighter’s seeing what you do. If you’re the captain, it’s the engineer watching what the captain does. It’s the captain watch what the BC does. The battalion chief watching what the division chief’s do, to the deputy chief to the fire chief. People may not like that as a training plan, but that is one that exists no matter where you are. It is what you’re leading by example with, your actions.
The other part of informal would be when it’s up to the individual to go out and get their own training. That can do well with self-motivated people, but you’re not going to get everyone. How do you seek it yourself? It could be books, learning from other people, getting an insight from some of the greatest minds out there and learning what they had. If you’re not out there obtaining the information than all you know is what either your parents taught you or a few officers that you had taught you.
Conferences, it’s another way. You get around a bunch of people and pick their brains on what’s the best practices. Maybe their agency had a formal program and there’s just someone there to share with you.
Something I came across, which I guess would be informal, is intent-based leadership, which is talked about it in the book “turn the ship around”. I use it in my firehouse. I really didn’t start realizing that it was actually succession training until recently. I had it occur before where I was using something called the ladder of leadership on it. There’s more explained in the book or in the class I did about it which can be found at brotherhoodcoaching.com. I had to work with an individual on his acting officer and I realized by following that template we already did a bunch of development that was required in his task book.
Recently I’m working with another guy. When I started looking at the book about everything you have to complete for signing him off I realized that, once again, a lot of that development we’ve already done. Maybe some of the paperwork and formal computer work we haven’t, but a lot of daily actions of putting on trainings, being a leader around the station is already in the works. That’s kind of why I want to do this about succession training is it’s a simple program that intent-based leadership and utilizing their ladder of leadership to guide you through it to where you can actually start the process to this way.
The guys hit the ground running. There’s not a lot of guess work to it. If you’re doing that every day then everyone’s evolving. While I don’t know how this works at a higher level where you’re not around your crew all the time. Let’s say coming from a deputy chief’s spot, I think it’s a work in progress. If any of you are in those positions and you start utilizing it, I think it’s a step in the right direction.
Once you get the ladder leadership all it is is using your words to get people to solve their own problems and make those decisions. What they’re doing is they’re coming to you, instead of coming to you saying, “Hey, this is the issue we got,” they’re going to say, “Hey, this is the issue we got. This is what I think we should do. This is what I want to do.” That keeps everything so there’s not one decision makers. You got everyone involved with that.
I wanted to share with you the formal-informal succession planning with intent-based leadership.