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Wildland Fire Leadership is blog where students of fire and leadership come together to discuss, debate and exchange leadership development concepts, experience, and thoughts with an intent to promote cultural change in the workforce and strengthen the wildland fire service and the communities they serve.
All the talent in the world won’t matter if a player can’t execute; avoiding common decision traps, learning from results in a rational way, and keeping emotions out of the process as much as possible. - Annie Duke, "Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts"
Everyone can exercise leadership by being an individual contributor at any level of an organization. What does that mean? Ultimately it comes down to looking for opportunities to make the world a better place. That sounds grand, but when people apply that idea to their work situations, it means having a vision of how your unit, or you as an individual, can be more effective and creative, go beyond day-to-day requirements, and energize others around that vision. ~ Helen Handfield-Jones
If you follow this blog, you know that I believe every person at every level of the organization can be a leader, that leaders are made, not born, and that each one us is responsible for our personal leadership development. Knowledge at Wharton’s and The McKinsey Quarterly’s report called “Why Everyone in an Enterprise Can—and Should—Be a Leader” on the University of Pennsylvania’s Knowledge at Wharton’s Leadership and Change website supports my position as well as provides other great information about leadership at all levels. (I suggest you read the entire report.)
In a culture of decreasing budgets, slashed programs, and a wave of retirements within the federal workforce, no better time exists than now to develop your leadership skills. Leadership capabilities are valuable and transferable. If you are finding that your organization lacks the funds to invest in you, invest in yourself.
What can the organization do in a time of financial constraint? To adapt content from the report, organizations can help managers and employees become leaders in a variety of ways.”
“Organizations can also mentor people and help them discover, in their own way, how they can improve. Perhaps the most important thing organizations can do is encourage people to get out of their “comfort zones” and take on new tasks and challenges.”
My husband and I saw a sign recently that we have used in various discussions to spur others to action: “If you don’t do it, who will?” You hold the key to your leadership destiny. About the Author: Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author. First published on this blog on November 29, 2010.
Wildland fire leaders are participating in the National Staff Ride Workshop sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service Leadership Development Program in conjunction with the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.
Besides actually taking part in a staff ride, attendees create or refurbish staff rides.
Here is more about this U.S. Forest Service leadership event:
Situation Develop a recurring program of national staff ride workshops that spawn five new or refurbished staff rides annually, both east and west of the 100th Meridian. Invite or nominate and select up to five 4-person development teams who will develop the newly spawned staff rides from resulting from each workshop.
Mission Increase the cadre pool of wildland fire service operators qualified to work within their home units and geographic areas to help initiate, develop, and deliver staff rides into their annual training plan process. This will provide the foundation for a fully supported, resourced, and accepted program of multi-level staff rides that meet or exceed nationally established quality standards in the "Wildland Fire Staff Ride Guide."
"Insights are unexpected discoveries about how things work and how to make them work better." - Dr. Gary Klein
Have you ever been trying to solve a problem (or not) when all of the sudden, an unexpected discovery "pops" into your mind. Whether But where do insights come from? Gary Klein, cognitive psychologist, has conducted a lot of research on the subject of decision making. In his book Seeing What Others Don't, Klein goes into depth about insight and where insights come from.
Klien believes the following pathways can lead to insight: t
Creative desperation - you're stuck and you're trying to figure out some creative way to reach an insight
Connections - seeing that pieces work together
Contradictions - where you see the pieces don't fit together
Klein suggests decision makers adopt an active, curious mindset. Here are some ways:
Make insights a habit
Use your curiosity
Encourage others to generate insights
Take advantage of confusion and conflicts
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenges - Digging a Little Deeper
Watch Gary Klein's "Lightbulb Moment" TEDx talk.
Lightbulb Moment | Gary Klein | TEDxDayton - YouTube
Read Gary Klein's book Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights.
Who Am I? A Tool to Help Build a Team by Bob Schoultz
A decade ago, when I joined my local Rotary club, part of the initiation process required that I introduce myself to the club in a 4 minute presentation – what they call a Who Am I? I wanted mine to be a little different from others I’d seen, so my wife Mary Anne joined me on stage, and as I went through the various roles I’d had in my life, she handed me the headgear – a hat, helmet, ball-cap, wrestling head-gear, swim cap – that represented that specific phase of my life. When we got to me being a father, she tossed me 1-2-3 dolls. The crowd loved it! How I delivered My Who Am I? was part of my statement, and it was appropriate that I had my life’s partner with me.
When I joined Toastmasters, I was informed that my first speech must be an “Icebreaker” – a nerve-wracking 5-7 minute speech to introduce myself to a room full of experienced public speakers – all taking notes. The title of my icebreaker was “The Prince of Mediocrity” and I shared how I am mediocre at more things than anyone I know. Appropriately enough, it was a mediocre speech and got mediocre evaluations. But I had given my first of many speeches, and had given them a clue as to Who Am I.
Here I am delivering my Who Am I? on one of my NOLS expeditions in the Wind River Mts.
My good friend Rick and I lead NOLS Executive Leadership Expeditions with 8-12 adults for 7 days and nights each summer in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. During the expeditions, everyone tells their story in a 15 minute Who Am I? Living and working together in pristine mountains and wilderness, disconnected from the distractions of civilization, with no email, smart phones, or internet, people quickly develop trust, and truly open up and share with each other. The result: Deeper personal connections, which for most, are the highlight of the expedition.
In his consulting work with other organizations, Rick uses an exercise adapted from Simon Sinek’s Finding Your Why, which is a different twist on the Who Am I? People in the group pair up outside the group context, and the partners interview each other and share experiences that had the most impact on their lives. At the conclusion of each interview, the interviewers provide feedback to their partners on common themes, threads and impressions garnered from the stories they heard. Afterward, when each person delivers their Who Am I? to the entire group, they don’t tell their stories, rather what they learned from hearing their partner’s perspective on what these stories might say about them.
The Who Am I? is a simple and effective tool for people to get to know and learn about each other beyond what comes up in most work environments. In the business communications class I teach at the University of San Diego, we follow the lead of Toastmasters, and the first presentation my students give is a five minute Who Am I? In several organizations of which I am a part, we decided to begin regular meetings with one (or two) members giving a five minute Who Am I? We are often surprised at what we learn about our colleagues’ backgrounds, what they believe is important in their lives, and we learn how thoughtful some speakers are about their values, fears, joys, and the trajectory of their lives.
Without exception, the effects of this little exercise have been positive. In some cases, it has profoundly and positively transformed the dynamics of the group.
Beginning a meeting with a Who Am I? makes an important value statement: We are people with individual lives and values, and recognizing this is important enough to take a moment to facilitate getting to know each other’s stories, before getting on with the work we have to do together.
At the SEAL command where I work, I recently heard a Who Am I? in which the speaker quickly listed many of the titles he’d had in his life, and then downplayed them, noting that these titles did not define him as he saw himself, nor did he want them to define him in the eyes of others. He then shared with us the titles he believed were most important in defining who he is: Friend, father, trustworthy colleague, team-mate, life-long-learner, uncertain about the future.
The Who Am I? presentation can open a door to more profound and conversations and connections outside of the group setting. Which can contribute to more trust, more caring, and more mutual understanding within the group. Which can lead to more productive and positive relationships.
Which are a good thing.
Some suggestions for building Who Am I? presentations into your organization.
Set a specific time limit and enforce it. I assign a timer with green, yellow, red cards.
Suggest that people rehearse and time themselves giving their Who Am I? Whether 5 minutes or 15, the time runs out quickly.
Encourage people not to read their Who Am I? and to speak from the heart.
Try not to do more than 2 at a time.
Allow a few minutes after each presentation for people to react, let the presentation sink in, and to ask a few questions; e.g., “Is your ex-wife still in the circus?”
For a five minute presentation, I suggest speakers structure their presentation as follows: An opening, 3 main points, and a conclusion.
Think about YOU being the first one, to set the example and the tone.
Bob Schoultz (retired Navy Seal commander, Adjunct Professor for Masters of Science in Global Leadership program at the University of San Diego, and certified NOLS instructor for L-380) is a regular WFLDP blog contributor. Check out this and other articles on Bob's blog, "Bob Schoultz's Corner."