Why Vision Matters

+Fire+lookout+volunteer+trainer+Brad+Vision is the lifeblood of a any fire department. It is what keeps it moving forward. It transported the fire service from bucket brigades to rapid intervention crews. It provides meaning to the everyday challenges that make up the complexity of delivering emergency services. It reminds fire department members why they are there.

Fire departments are connected to the economy. And in a down economy things can get very tactical. Many fire departments are just trying to survive. What worked in the past does not work today. What works today may not work tomorrow. Decisions become very pragmatic; they tend to become reactionary.

After a while, this begins to take a toll on the members on the front lines: the firefighters, officers, dispatchers, and support personnel doing the real work on the streets. They begin to wonder why their efforts matter. They have trouble connecting their actions to the larger story. Their work becomes just a matter of going through the motions; running the calls, repairing the trucks, and delivering the supplies.

The clarity of your vision, along with your ability to cast that vision, will determine what you’re able to accomplish in leadership.

This is where great leadership in the fire service makes all the difference. Leadership is about more than influence, it’s about fire department leaders, at every level, reminding their members of what it is they are trying to do – and why it matters. It is about painting a better picture of the future, and articulating that vision to everyone, everyday and everywhere.


Take a few minutes to think about these questions which may help you begin to examine your fire department’s vision.

DO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES align with your fire department’s long-range vision?
DOES YOUR FIRE DEPARTMENT’S VISION inspire commitment from your members (remember, members include all personnel, not just firefighters)?
HOW REGULARLY DO YOU COMMUNICATE the vision to those you lead?
HAS YOUR FIRE DEPARTMENT’S VISION been adopted by your members?


TODAY, THINK about what may be preventing your members from believing in and living your fire department’s vision. What is it?

How Leaders Build Winning Teams

In his book Winning, Jack Welch says he found that some ways of leading always seem to work in creating a winning team. Her they are:

  1. Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self confidence.
  2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live it and breathe it.
  3. Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
  4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.
  5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
  6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
  7. Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.
  8. Leaders celebrate.

How do you build a winning team? What can you do today to build a better team?