Fire Service Leaders Prepare Learners For High-Risk Situations

Real life stories help create a setting for critical thinking and a lively exchange of ideas

olk-salem-live burn

Photo by Tim Olk.

via Wiselike:

How has your experience as a firefighter and chief helped you in the classroom as a college professor?

Here’s my answer:

Firefighting is a high-risk environment that provides events, on a daily basis, for understanding how to lead not only in life-and-death situations but also everyday situations. The personal connection a firefighter gets from helping people and the demands of a chief officer to identify real problems and lead strong teams can also be applied to business, government, sports, or any other time when people must perform under challenging conditions. That “people experience” has provided me with real life stories that help me create a setting for critical thinking and a lively exchange of ideas.

All of my fire service experience has better prepared me to grow as a leader and to help others grow as well.

Be Thankful

Olk-firefighters-shadow-compressThanksgiving is a day of reflection, a good time to slow down and take some time to consider all we have to be grateful for as firefighters despite the many challenges we face. Feeling grateful doesn’t come naturally, it’s a choice. So today I am grateful for many things, such as a great family, good friends, a nice place to live, food on my table, and a rewarding job as a firefighter. I discovered this poem recently and I believe it describes what a firefighter should be thankful for. Take a moment to read it and reflect on its powerful message.

May your Thanksgiving be more about gratitude and reflection.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

~~ Author Unknown ~~

Command Presence: Presentation is Everything

Command presence. We know it instantly when someone has it. And we know it when they don’t.

Language, body language, tone of voice, and behavior all reveal command presence or the lack of. It’s how you look, act, and communicate. It’s how you present yourself, especially under stress. And during a stressful situation, presentation is everything.

A lack of command presence from the leadership, in any kind of organization, can be hazardous and will definitely lead to ineffectiveness. A leader’s command presence is essential for moving the organization forward and sometimes controlling chaos. It provides confidence and credibility to the members of the organization. It builds trust and motivates them.

From the archives, read my article on Command Presence that focuses on leadership and presentation. It was originally posted at on September 11, 2006.

Here are four questions you should ask yourself regarding command presence:

1. Do you LOOK the part?

2. Do you CARRY YOURSELF with confidence?

3. Do you ACT the part?

4. Do you SPEAK the part?