Many Departments focus on succession planning training; offer classes and have programs designed to develop the next generations of Fire Ground commanders. These programs are invaluable; however, with declining budgets and many fringe benefits being cut some agencies are seeing these go away.
What can we do in house or even at the company level to train and develop the next generation? Two quotes that I have always held on to and tried to live are:
“Teach your job to the person below you and learn the job of the one above you.”
“There is no success without a successor.”
Are we developing true leadership? I am not referring to an individual who can command a fire scene or a company officer who is really good at being first due to the big one; I’m referring to Leadership qualities not associated with decision making on scene. There are so many qualities of a good leader that I don’t have the time this morning or the space in this post to delve into it- But one of the most important qualities of a good leader is passing on those characteristics and qualities (good ones) to the next generation. This is often overlooked, or leaders feel that setting a good example is enough. Others feel knowledge is power and sharing will diminish their power. ( I believe these individuals to not be true leaders at all, but that’s another subject) What about a proactive approach? I challenge you to teach your leadership qualities to your subordinates and teach them why your leadership style has developed the way it has. Do they know what leaderships truly is? If you educate them on leadership I guarantee you that will challenge you to be even better. Sit with them, share why you think some aspects are more important than others. Share your strengths and your weaknesses. Then they will begin to develop their own leadership style and hopefully will take your passion for leadership with them. Sharing your weaknesses will not take away your clout; trust me, you don’t have them fooled. They know your not perfect.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in “white board” training only, nor do I tend toward the “touchy feely” but I believe this process in leadership development is lacking. Someday you will promote, and those below you will promote into a leadership role? Have you done your job to prepare them?