According to Albert Schweitzer, “example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing”. Leaders must lead by example. It is very simple, but it is easier for some leaders to say it than do it. A leader is defined as “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country”. So does that mean that a leader wears a different color gear or helmet; wears gold instead of a silver badge; or have multiple bugles on their badge, collar, and helmet?
Leaders are individuals who will lead their troop from the front line. They know what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. They adhere to the ethical reason and do what is right, even if it is not the favorable decision at the particular time. They can push the un-driven, train the unmotivated, and persuade the most stubborn of firefighters. They are not afraid to train other people, even though it may show their weakness. Leaders have passion for the job. It shows in everything they do. They wear their uniform with pride when they come to work in the morning, and stand resilient after grueling hours of work. They are dedicated and are proud when they clean their helmets after battling a fire. They do not need other people’s approval because they do not have to prove anything. They do their job because that is what they were destined to do.
So, who are these leaders and where are they? They are all around us. He is working quietly while guiding younger firefighters. He may be filling up somebody’s cup of coffee so that he can make a fresh pot, because he knows that other firefighters were up first that shift on the ambulance. He is the first person out of bed the morning so that he can start the morning chores early. He is the guy pulling out a hose load in the bay to fix what looks like spaghetti in the tray. My point is they are all around us. They are doing things that needed to be done. He does not point fingers. Instead, he works hard. He knows that the best motivated firefighters will follow him because good character and moral integrity are inherent in the best firefighters.
What makes them such good leaders? They work hard, lead the men by example to guide, mentor, and promote integrity, honesty, and commitment. They keep the pride alive in the rest of us. They ease the pain after bad calls. They provide calmness and good working relations in difficult situations. A leader could be the rookie who grabs a broom and a mop a little earlier than normal to get the job done, motivating an elder to assist them in completing the tasks that have to be done.
These are just examples. Leaders are not bosses; they work with their followers. You should also know that you lead others, whether you know it or not. You have an obligation to uphold the integrity, the character, and the pride to be a well- trained and motivated firefighter. Remember, training breeds the confidence that is required to successfully accomplish the objective promptly and efficiently. Second guessing yourself makes you slow down, and deprives you of the confidence that makes you motivated. As a leader, you must have the ability to lead a team and drive them to success.