Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Kind of Investment Have You Made in You?

One of the comments we hear from a lot of wildland firefighters attending our leadership courses is, "I wish I had taken this course earlier in my career." Leadership preparation is more than a course and doesn't begin the day you accept a leadership role or position.  More often than not, individuals are thrust into leadership because of a situation or event. In order to be prepared, individuals must invest in themselves early in life.

Did you notice I said "life" and not "career"? Leadership development may or may not be something you do for your job. Whether in our job or our personal life, we all have had, or will have, the opportunity to influence others. Whether by authority or decision to lead, individuals should be ready for the call to lead.

Investing in Yourself

The theme of the 2016 Wildland Fire National Leadership Campaign is "Never Stop Learning." One way to prepare for the call to leadership is to adopt a plan of continuous learning. Effective leaders are always looking for new resources to expand their minds and hone old skills or develop new ones. Prudent leaders should heed the advice of financial planners and invest early and often, and then watch the fruits of their efforts grow.

Here is a short list of things can you do to invest in yourself:
  • Read
  • Write
  • Study
  • Volunteer
  • Define yourself
  • Develop a new skill
  • Acknowledge your talents
  • Spend time by and for yourself
  • Devote time to your development
  • Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge

Monday, November 23, 2015

IGNITE: Continuous Learning

Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education.  –Simon Sinek

Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education. – Simon Sinek
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Ron Garcia on Professionalism

Professionals from The Smokey Generation on Vimeo.

Art of Leadership

Leaders deeply affect people and organizations, both positively and negatively. Accidental leaders, who have little interest or enthusiasm for leadership responsibilities or self-improvement, can inhibit people’s growth and reduce the effectiveness of their organizations.

Conversely, committed leaders, avid pupils of the art of leadership, can inspire others and make an enormous difference in people’s lives, on the results of the team, and in the progress of the organization.

The art of leadership requires a constant interchange of theory and application. The art also includes being able to view the larger picture—discerning how to turn a weakness into a strength, gauging what is and is not within our control. Leaders constantly balance the known and unknown as well as danger and opportunity to find ways to gain the advantage.

Ultimately, the art of leadership requires successfully balancing many factors in the real world, based on the situation at hand, to achieve a successful outcome.

Occasionally, leaders may be required to provide authoritative, autocratic, tightly controlled direction that requires immediate obedience. But most of the time, leaders inspire, guide, and support their subordinates, gaining their commitment to the vision and mission and encouraging them, within established limits, to perform creatively.

The leadership challenge in the wildland fire service is to influence people to accomplish tasks and objectives under confusing, dangerous, and ambiguous conditions. Leaders balance the risks against the potential gains of any decision and action. Because of the inherent complexity of this world, many times they face morally difficult decisions—with high-stakes consequences— alone, unable to receive guidance from a chain of command.

At these moments, fire leaders rely on values and judgment and apply the art of leadership.

[Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 9-10]

What is your story? We challenge you to become a part of this amazing  project and share your leadership stories. Bethany Hannah began The Smokey Generation: A Wildland Fire Oral History and Digital Storytelling Project for her master's thesis. All members of the wildland fire service, not just hotshots, can share their stories by following her example. Click here for potential leadership questions. Visit The Smokey Generation website for complete information.

The Smokey Generation logo

Thursday, November 19, 2015

IGNITE: When We Fail

When we make mistakes, we handle them in honorable and effective ways, fixing the immediate problem then searching for root causes.  –Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 64
When we make mistakes, we handle them in honorable and effective ways, fixing the immediate problem then searching for root causes. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 64
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Good is Your SA?

Making Sound and Timely Decisions 

To make sound and timely decisions, fire leaders assess the situation, seek out relevant information, weigh options, make judgments, and initiate action as required to create a positive outcome within inevitable time constraints. 

The cornerstone of good decision making is good situation awareness. Leaders can increase their decision space by attaining and maintaining good situation awareness. Decision space is simply the amount of time that a decision maker has for considering options before reaching a required decision point. 

Leaders can optimize their decision space by using time efficiently. Seeking advance information in new situations or utilizing standard operating procedures for routine tasks are examples of techniques that make good use of available time. 

In the wildland fire environment, decisions have serious consequences and often can have life-or-death implications for others. With so much on the line, we have a responsibility to understand the decision-making process—the components, the flow, the effect of time— and to develop the skills and confidence that enables us to make the best decision possible with the information and time available. 

Situation Awareness Cycle

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge: Digging a Little Deeper

  • Observation: As you watch the video below. Stop the video before the scene changes are revealed. Replay the video to the same point notifying your audience to watch for set changes. Stop before the reveal and have your audience identify things that changed. How many of the items did the participants identify? Show the scene change reveal and compare to the audience's answers.

  • Discuss how this phenomenon can affect your safety on the fireline and ways of mitigating gaps in situation awareness.

Monday, November 16, 2015

IGNITE: Management vs. Leadership

Management works in the system; leadership works on the system.  –Stephen Covey
Management works in the system; leadership works on the system. - Stephen Covey
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Friday, November 13, 2015

35 Staff Graduate BLM Leadership Academy

One year ago, 35 BLM employees began a professional and personal development journey as part of the BLM's premier leadership development program. Leadership Academy is one of several employee development training programs offered by the BLM National Training Center (NTC) in Phoenix for employees desiring to advance their leadership skills.
The curriculum is organized around the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) Executive Core Qualifications. These five qualifications – leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions – provide the framework for the OPM's 28 leadership competencies, which the BLM has endorsed.
The graduates of the 2015 BLM Leadership Academy.
The graduates of the 2015 BLM Leadership Academy.
As recent graduate Richard Fields, Assistant Field Manager at the Oklahoma Field Office, stated, "BLM's Leadership Academy does not create leaders. They are drawn to the program. What it does, and does well, is give leaders the tools and training to be successful leaders for the BLM."
The participant's journey began at the NTC where participants spent a week assessing their leadership capabilities, learning how to apply leadership theories in practice, and developing strategies to help them become more effective leaders. From there, participants spent the next 10 months completing course assignments such as working on important team projects to benefit the BLM, presenting results of team projects to the Field Committee and Executive Leadership Team, completing a minimum 60-day detail, and shadowing and interviewing admired leaders.
Leadership Academy students in session.
Leadership Academy students in session.
According to Richard White, Assistant Field Manager at the Vale District Office in Oregon, "Leadership Academy reinforced the importance of relationships and taking full advantage of every opportunity the BLM provides. The Academy expanded my network of colleagues who I can reach out to and created lifelong friendships."
Jeff Brune, Manager of BLM's Campbell Creek Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska, remarked, "My D.C. details with Public Affairs and the Division of Education, Interpretation, and Partnerships were fantastic! My projects were demanding, but we developed systems and products that I feel will bring value to the people of this great agency and the public we serve. I have a renewed sense of purpose for the BLM and for public service."
Leadership Academy students in session.
Leadership Academy students in session.
Finally, after committing hundreds of hours and mountains of energy to complete the coursework and detail requirements, their journey ended in Washington DC with Political and Organizational Realities training. The training was capped off with inspiring speeches by DOI Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Janice Schneider and BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis, followed by the crescendo moment the participants eagerly anticipated – GRADUATION! Linda Lance, BLM's Acting Deputy Director of Planning and Resources, proudly confirmed their achievements with words of congratulations and handed out graduation certificates to each of the 35 Leadership Academy graduates.
When asked if all the effort and hard work was worth it, Leadership Academy graduate Michelle Ryerson, Field Manager at the Owyhee Field Office in Idaho, exclaimed, "Yes! It surpassed my expectations. I highly encourage future leaders of the BLM to participate!"
To learn more about the BLM's Leadership Academy, contact the National Training Center Leadership Academy Coordinator at 602-906-5628. Or, ask a recent Leadership Academy Graduate!
Congratulations to the members of the 2015 Leadership Academy Graduating Class:
Tauqeer Aslam
Amanda Dodson
Edward Kender
Gregory Miller
Charles Russell
Matthew Azhocar
Al Elser
Lori Kimball
Stephanie Miller
Michelle Ryerson
Jeff Brune
Paris Everson
Jeff Kitchens
Leanne Phillips
Robyn Shoop
Elizabeth Burghard
Richard Fields
Todd Kuck
Jill Ralston
Anna Sisson
Marjorie Chiles
Melissa Garcia
Eric Lepisto
Beth Ransel
Megan Stouffer
Byron Clayton
Lenore Heppler
Shane McDonald
Aaron Rasmussen
Richard White
Dana Dennison
Rebecca Hunt
Stacie McIntosh
Kimberly Rose
Kevin Wright
 Story by Patti Klein, Acting Leadership Development Training Coordinator
Reprinted from The BLM Daily from 10/20/15.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

IGNITE: Commitment

A team is a group of people who may not be equal in experience, talent, or education but in commitment. –Patricia Fripp
A team is a group of people who may not be equal in experience, talent, or education but in commitment. – Patricia Fripp
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Unity through Harmony

Boulder County Sheriff's Office
(Photo credit: Boulder Country Sheriff's Office)
One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is team building. Taking a group of individuals with different personalities, skills, and experiences and molding them into a cohesive unit is not always an easy task. The leader must assess the strengths and weaknesses and commonalities and differences of each person and determine how each fits into the whole, if they do at all. Building the team may happen quickly or it may take some time.

Consider the following excerpt about a unified effort from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service:
The longer it takes to develop a unified effort, the greater the vacuum of leadership. Delays increase confusion, which in turn magnify the risk to our people and increase the likelihood that people will take unproductive or independent action without understanding the larger intent.
A unified leadership team sends a powerful message: when all leaders follow the same priorities and reinforce leader’s intent through consistent actions and words, our people develop a strong sense of trust for their leaders. It dispels the propensity to second-guess command decisions as subordinates recognize that the leadership team moves as one and is solidly in charge.
Unified in Harmony
Building a team is like playing in a drum circle. From what I have witnessed at the Seattle Center, someone shows up with a drum and starts playing. The next thing you know there are hundreds of people drumming away. Now there may very well have been a leader who picked the venue and notified the drummers, but what happens after they converge is pure magic.

There is no sheet music. There doesn't seem to be a set of rules or procedures. People come and people go. In this group, no two drummers are the same. As one would say "each marches to the beat of a different drum." Even though each person creates his/her own tune, he/she relies upon one another to create the musical experience. Unique individuals unify into one harmonious group. The beauty of harmony is that each person is part of the beautiful whole just as they are. They do not have to fit a certain mold in order to be a part of the group. Most importantly, a team in harmony can be unified without the barriers and stigma of uniformity or the heavy hand of a demanding leader.

Look what happens when a team is harmonious and not just acting in unison.

Building the Team

Fire leaders build cohesive teams—not simply groups of individuals putting forth individual efforts—to accomplish missions in high-risk environments.

Cohesive teams are more creative and adaptable when dealing with complex situations. This enables them to detect and mitigate errors before irreparable damage occurs. Cohesion allows team members to anticipate the needs and actions of other team members. This increases efficiency and saves time.

Fire leaders set the stage by creating an environment in which cohesive teams thrive: establishing a foundation of trust, enabling healthy conflict, requiring commitment, setting an expectation of accountability, and bringing focus to the team result.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Take a moment to assess your team.
  • Are you unified through harmony or unison? Do you think alike? Act alike? Are you clones?
  • Develop innovative ways to bring individuality into the success of your team.
  • Embrace your positive differences and find ways to minimize the negative differences (whatever those may be). 
  • Support one another.

Monday, November 9, 2015

IGNITE: Leaders Face Difficult Problems

Leaders often face difficult problems to which there are no simple, clear cut, by-the-book solutions. –Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 1
Leaders often face difficult problems to which there are no simple, clear cut, by-the-book solutions. –  Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 1
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