Coaching is face-to-face leadership that pulls together people
with diverse backgrounds, talents, experiences, and interests, encourages them to step up to responsibility and continued achievement, and treats them as full-scale partners and contributors.
—A Passion for Excellence by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin
As company officers, we each strive to do our best every day. That means not only taking responsibility for our job assignments, but also learning to take responsibilities for those we lead. Taking time to learn this now will pay dividends for many years.
So as the company officer, when do you find time to remind yourself of the key elements you've built your reputation on?
Each day I come to work in the fire service, the first thing I do is remind myself of what a great opportunity and responsibility I have—the opportunity to serve and help people I don't know is a great responsibility.
One of my first company officers impressed on me that the people who call us do so because they're having the worst day of their lives right now. He reminded us every day that we must do our best to take care of those people. He showed me that my opportunity to be in the fire service comes with the responsibility of helping those in need.
Little did I know then that he was mentoring me and building my reputation to be a good leader for when my chance came.
Every day we came to work, we examined our diverse community and members of our department. Understanding that diversity led us to be more compassionate in what we did for the community and how we treated each other. The new perspectives we gained, coupled with each member's existing talents, built our team. Personal experience and interest helped to shape our ability to provide service.
As I moved up in the organization, my experience and talents took me to areas in the department that gave me more responsibility. That responsibility required me to be the mentor and leader for new department members.
As the company officer, I still needed that next-level mentor to keep me grounded to mission. That mentor had me interacting with contemporaries from other organizations; someone from outside our organization was able to understand how to lead and coach me through a significant learning process.
I soon learned to seek out his advice and guidance. He treated me as equal, which compelled me to strive to learn more about the job.
Today we hear that new department members want different things than we wanted 30 years ago. As I look at this today, I don't think they want any less than I did; they just want the opportunity to be encouraged to take responsibility.
The Company Office Leadership Committee (COLC) has a plan for mentoring; COLC is developing an IAFC mentoring program for ranks from company officer to chief officer. The program will provide the resources company officers need as they continue along the path to be a successful chief officer.
This project is in its initial stages; the committee is looking to existing models from within the fire service to build on. As part of the desire to provide COLC members with better service, the committee undertook a virtual interview assessment. The assessment feedback has provided significant information that will help the IAFC offer company officers with valuable information that will meet your needs.
Helping you take responsibility for those you lead is where COLC wants to take you.