Developing the Future with Vision

If you’re reading this article, at some point in your life you’ve made a decision to improve yourself, not only professionally but personally.

One area the fire and emergency service hasn’t done a great job in is developing our future leaders.

We frequently speak of succession planning, yet it’s normally last-minute and about who would fill a certain position, whether it’s a deputy or fire chief position.

What about the other areas in the department, the division and battalion chiefs and the company officers?

They need our assistance most of all because they are our legacy and will be there long after we’ve moved on to our next endeavor.

According to a Gallup report published in 2014 (State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders), only one in ten people possess high talent to manage. The report also indicates that many

base hiring and promotion decisions on an employee’s past experience, and then reward them by giving them an entirely different role. According to the research, at least 80% of the time this methodology backfires.

Shouldn’t we be committing a significant amount of our resources to developing our future?

This must go beyond training at the task level. We must develop up-and-coming members to be leaders in the fire service—leaders who will make us proud and take the fire service to a whole new level.

In Full Steam Ahead (Blanchard and Stoner, 2011), the main character reads the eulogy of a good friend and mentor. She appreciates the way it describes him in such a positive manner and with such accuracy.

After the funeral, she contacts her friend’s daughter, who wrote her father’s eulogy. The daughter responds that she found it in her father’s desk; it was the man’s personal vision statement, describing how he wanted to live his life.

This story demonstrates the importance of having clear vision for your personal life and professional career.

The goal of creating a personal and professional vision statement should be conveyed to young firefighters as they are hired into your departments. This allows them to map out their futures in the fire service.

Additionally, have your new recruits develop long- and short-term goals with specific and attainable timelines. Help them create career-development plans that will allow them to grow into leaders, not only in their departments, but in their communities as well.

Moreover, require them to reevaluate their plans and discuss them with a mentor every six months to stay motivated.

Those who have entered or completed NFA’s Executive Fire Officer Program have made that important step to seek lifelong learning in the fire service and beyond.

This is a program that you weren’t required to attend, but you made the decision on your own to expand your knowledge and, most of all, to network with other fire service professionals.

This executive leadership program has always allowed its participants to build an extensive, diverse array of management and leadership skills to use throughout their careers. The program will continue to be a vital component of chief officers’ careers.

With this month’s theme of diversity and inclusiveness, what better time to venture out and explore areas you haven’t been involved in before?

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