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.
You do not build trust in order to be vulnerable. When you're vulnerable, it builds trust. Being vulnerable together builds closeness and creates it. - Daniel Coyle
"There I was..."
When we share a good story, people become a part of our story. Their imaginations and senses awaken, and their emotions react. However, telling someone else's story is often easier than telling our own. The reason? Vulnerability. In order to share our story, we have to be vulnerable. Recently, I was leading a small group session. I had a close relationship with a couple of the participants and not with the others. Our discussion progressed to the point where I felt the need to share a very personal experience. The little voice in the back of my head kept saying "What will they think of me?"
For a while, I kept the voice at bay. Somehow our discussion just kept fueling my need to share, so I did. What happened next was interesting. The couple I knew shared a little about themselves; they weren't as open as I was, but they shared. And then the newest person to the group shared something. My vulnerability allowed others to open up. So much so, that by the end of the night, our newest member expressed his thankfulness for his new group. He had found a deep connection; he had found a safe space to share his burden.
As I was reading Daniel Coyle's book Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Effective Groups, I realized our interaction was a "vulnerability loop."
According to Coyle a vulnerability loop is "a shared exchange of openness, it’s the most basic building block of cooperation and trust. Vulnerability loops seem swift and spontaneous from a distance, but when you look closely, they all follow the same discrete steps:
Person A sends a signal of vulnerability.
Person B detects this signal.
Person B responds by signaling their own vulnerability.
Person A detects this signal.
A norm is established; closeness and trust increase."
Cohesive teams, like those found within the wildland fire service, are forged through vulnerabilities. Consider being vulnerable with your team members today.
That's why good teams tend to do a lot of extreme stuff together. A constant stream of vulnerability gives them a much richer, more reliable estimate on what their trustworthiness is, and brings them closer, so they can take still more risks. It builds on itself. - David DeSteno
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
2018 WILDLAND FIRE LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN CHALLENGE Time for a bigger challenge for our annual campaign. This one may stretch you a bit. As a team, select another team with whom you can develop a common purpose (beyond a fireline task) and accomplish that task. You can also choose to help another team develop their leadership. Here are some ideas:
Challenge another team to a team building activity.
Team with another group to do something for your community (could be fire camp).
Start a roving leadership library. Pass books on to another team.
Conduct a preplanning exercise with another team.
We would love to hear other ideas and see the fruits of your action.
IGNITE the Spark for Leadership and SHARE through your spheres of influence.
How do you go from a "toxic pirate culture that included numerous allegations of sexism, ethical corner-cutting and a take-no-prisoners approach*" to a company customers and employees can trust? How do you rebuild broken trust?
I'm talking about Uber, although you can pretty well pick most any entity right now; the story would be the same. We are in the midst of a cultural crisis where the very foundation of our organization is crumbling. At that foundation is trust. Trust has been broken or in some cases destroyed as we seek to find what right looks like.
The intent of this blog is not to spotlight any topic for the topics are as numerous as the stars in the sky. I want to talk about how we move forward. How we come together and talk about the issues facing us. How we build or rebuild trust.
As Dr. Frances Frei mentions in her recent TedTalk, "trust is the foundation of everything we do." Dr. Frei's favorite trait is "redemption." She believes that "there is a better version of us around every corner." She has "seen firsthand how organizations and communities and individuals change at breathtaking speed." My hope is that the wildland fire service be the example of what right looks to other organizations across the globe. I know it is a big task, but change starts with me...and you.
In her talk, Dr. Frei discusses the three components of trust—authenticity, logic, and empathy—and gives a prescription for each. When any one of these components "wobble," trust is threatened. I won't go into the specifics of her talk. Instead, I challenge you to watch the video by yourself or with your team and develop a plan to be the change you want to see.
Now is the time for those with moral courage to embrace change and build cultures of trust within their sphere of influence. I am a firm believer that cultural change is a grassroots effort that affects the larger whole.
* Source: "Uber’s Culture Fixer, Frances Frei, is Leaving the Company." Recode. February 27, 2018.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
As wildland fire leaders, we look beyond ourselves and to the greater good. Involvement in community wildfire preparedness is one way we can nurture our mission-driven culture. One way to build relationships within your community is to hold an America's PrepareAthon! Day of Action.
America’s PrepareAthon! is a grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience for disasters. The campaign offers free resources for households and organizations to discuss and practice plans and safety measures to improve resilience for specific disasters.
Planning and preparing can make a big difference in being safe and keeping your doors open after a disaster. The ability to maintain or quickly reestablish business operations or organization processes requires a focus on preparedness, advance planning, and relationships with external partners and community leaders.
This is a great opportunity for wildland fire leaders to share their decision-making skills through the use of sand tables and and tactical decision games. The playbook includes even has a ready-made scenario you can use. Additional games can be found in the Toolbox on Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program website.