The significant problems that firefighters face on the fire ground today are not solved by one person; even, and especially, the leader at the top. How can company and chief officers learn to release the passion, energy, and intellect of their firefighters? How can they help them become thinking, adaptable members of a firefighting team? How do they turn followers into leaders?
David Marquet was the commander on the nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe, and that’s where he designed and developed the “leader-leader” approach. Marquet uses great stories of self-discovery, tension, and self-doubt to describe the trials and errors that led to a resilient and effective team of leaders. The book presents a comprehensive paradigm shift on how we think about leadership, but one that is needed, especially in the fire service, to build strong, cohesive teams that can operate safely and effectively in an unforgiving environment.
Marquet’s basic premise is that “everyone is a leader, and that things work better when everyone chooses to lead.” His leader-leader model not only improves effectiveness and morale, but also makes for a healthier and stronger organization. The leader-leader structure is more resilient because they do not rely on one designated leader to always be right. It takes a team. And the best part of the leader-leader model is how it grows additional leaders throughout the organization naturally. It creates a real learning organization.
If you want to create leadership at every level, all the way to the front lines where the action is, then follow the principles that David Marquet has outlined in his book.