Company Officer Leadership: Leadership Development

Leadership development—what does that really mean? Can you develop people into becoming good leaders, or are leaders just born to be leaders?

If you’re a manager (read that as company or chief officer), does that mean you’re a leader? Well it certainly means you are in a position of leadership, but, let’s all be honest here and admit that we have come across more than a few officers during our careers who lack even the most basic leadership skills. So where does one go to find a path to leadership?

One place to start is the document that was released at Fire-Rescue International by the Company Officers Section, Succession Management for the Fire-Rescue Service.

Over the course of the past several decades, professional development in the fire service has dramatically increased, but that hasn’t answered the need for a solid succession-management program. There are many EFO papers and other fire service publications that have discussed the need for succession management, but until now no one had developed a method of understanding exactly what succession management was or how to apply the process efficiently.

The Company Officers Section recognized the gap in this process to successful implementation and convened a group of fire service professionals of all ranks, along with other recognized business and industry leaders to try and take the subject. Beginning with a survey to gather information from the fire service, the committee began the work of identifying what was being done and more importantly where there were gaps in the process.

The survey received over 800 responses, which indicated what the respondents felt were the most important skills and qualifications for promotion and what were the most important elements of succession management.

The list of important skills included:

  • Leadership
  • Labor/Management skills
  • Strategic skills,
  •  Finance & Budget
  • Speaking & Presentation
  • Technical skills
  • Formal education

The most important elements of succession management seemed to go hand-in-hand and included:

  • Knowledge & abilities
  • Mentoring
  • Training
  • Leadership
  • Coaching

Along with these skills and needs the committee also looked at the reasons for past succession-management failures, including:

  • No buy-in from stakeholders
  • Unrealistic goals and standards
  • Lack of follow through, to name just a few

Based on the survey and with other research and fact gathering, the committee developed a comprehensive guide to understanding and applying a succession-management process. From understanding what succession management is to dealing with roadblocks you may encounter along the way, this document is a must-have for any department hoping to develop its people into the department’s and the fire service’s future leaders.

I’m extremely proud to announce the release of this document and look forward to seeing the successes it brings to the fire service. 

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this publication, go to the COS webpage

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