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January 6, 2014
By Jennifer Grigg

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Jan. 6, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – Baseball legend Reggie Jackson once said “A great manager has the ability to make a player think that he is better than he is. He convinces you to have confidence in yourself. He lets you know that he believes in you, and before long you discover talent that you never knew you had.”

Jan. 6, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – Baseball legend Reggie Jackson once said, “A great manager has the ability to make a player think that he is better than he is. He convinces you to have confidence in yourself. He lets you know that he believes in you, and before long you discover talent that you never knew you had.”

Now let’s substitute officer for manager and firefighter for player, and look at what we have: A great officer has the ability to make a firefighter think that he is better than he is. He convinces you to have confidence in yourself. He lets you know that he believes in you, and before long you discover talent that you never knew you had.

The only thing that statement lacks is the fact you don’t need to be an officer to be a leader or to see the potential in others.

How do great leaders encourage others? They identify firefighters’ strengths and what motivates them. Sometimes all it takes is a “Good job,” or a word of encouragement to give someone the confidence needed to step up to the plate (so to speak).

People won’t always remember what you say or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

There is no greater feeling than knowing you have helped people realize their potential and inspire them to reach for their dreams. It’s equally as rewarding to have someone reach out to you and acknowledge your potential; we don’t always see what we’re capable of but often others do.

Most fire departments will do a PIAR (Post Incident Analysis Review) after significant calls to discuss what went right and what went wrong and what can be done better the next time. This is an excellent opportunity to foster good relations with firefighters and tell them that they did a good job, rather than focusing only on what went wrong or could have been done differently.

I had the opportunity to be present for a PIAR at a neighbouring township’s fire hall following a CISM training night to which spouses were invited. I was so inspired by the district chief’s comments during the PIAR that I darn near handed in my application to the department. Not only did the district chief acknowledge everything the firefighters did right, along with lessons learned for the next call, he even commented on his own decisions and actions during the call and what perhaps could have been done differently. What a fantastically humbling experience.

This is a perfect example of inspiring others simply by being the type of person that you are. Lead by example is a saying often heard in the fire service, and that district chief is a great example; this is the type of person we need in the fire service to help other members learn and grow and become all that they have the potential to be.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. If you are strong in an area where others on your crew aren’t, help them out. Take a few minutes and offer to give them a hand in an area in which they’re struggling. If you see firefighters with potential, take the opportunity to tell them that.

Who knows how far one kind word, one compliment can go.

This is a brotherhood, after all. Help a brother – or sister – out.

Jennifer Mabee-Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. E-mail her at jhook0312@yahoo.ca and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee


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