I recently enrolled in Graduate School and one of the first classes I selected was one on Organizational Behavior and Leadership. During the first week’s assignment I came across an interesting concept developed by some of the leading corporations in the world. When looking at the fire service, there are different bottom lines and funding differences however; the only real difference is the services we provide. If this concept is used by a majority of successful businesses, why not look at applying it to what we do.
The authors of my textbook (Don Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, Jr.) describe seven competencies for individual, team and organizational effectiveness.
1. Ethics: Ability to distinguish right from wrong and make sound decisions based upon those perceptions. This is what guides many people and most effective companies develop core values to establish what is ethical. I like a combination of the United States Air Force and Chief Eddie Buchanan. USAF – Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do. Chief Buchanan – Loyalty above all else except honor. Between the two you should do what is right even if no one is watching, think of the department/organization before your personal needs, excel in everything you do, be loyal to yourself, crew, department unless it would compromise your honor.
2. Self: Understanding the personality and attitude of yourself and others, accurately perceiving yourself and others, understanding and acting upon the motivations and emotions of yourself and others, assessing and establishing your personal, developmental and professional goals, taking responsibility for managing the path your life is taking even through stressful situations. This boiled down means the ability to analyze yourself truthfully, read others, identify how to motivate people, and taking control of your path.
3. Diversity: Fostering an environment that includes people that are different than yourself. This concept has become one of the greatest strengths of agencies. Including all types of people coupled with the Across Cultures competency allows for a company officer to take the best from everyone.
4. Across Cultures: Being able to recognize and embrace the similarities / differences of other nations and cultures
5. Communication: Ability to convey ideas, directions and actively listen. This concept has a lot to do with the self competency and ultimately relays to those that don’t work with you everyday, the type of officer you are. The best officer in the world that cannot effectively communicate in written, verbal, and non-verbal mediums will lose credibility.
6. Teams (teamwork): Ability to develop, support and lead groups to achieve goals. Understanding group dynamics and how each member plays a role within the group. This is the bread and butter of the fire service. Most people cannot pass recruit school without demonstrating the ability to function as a team. As the leader of the team you must understand the intricacies that are involved to be able to effectively chart the course for a successful team.
7. Change: Ability to recognize and implement needed adaptations to progress yourself, your team or organization. This concept is what allows any agency to stay current and progressive. With recent enhancements of technology, change of tactics, construction and generational shifts the old policy of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” will no long suffice. Look for better ways of doing things.
Many companies use templates similar to this when developing executives to run their organization. If it works for them, adapt it to the fire service and make it work for us. Although all of these competencies are important, I see the Self-Competency as the most important. There is no way to teach someone how to change the way they perceive themselves or the people around them. This is a valuable tool for company officers since it is the basis of how we treat, motivate, discipline and ultimately lead those entrusted to our care.