Written by Capt. Carlin Riley
Today’s world of firefighting resembles the lifestyles that we have taken on that greatly differ from the seventies and eighties. Life is more complex, filled with technology and lack of time for ourselves and our families. The fire service also reflects these trends that seem to have slipped into our lives like a thief in the night. 
Written by E. David Hodgins
In March 2003 I wrote about integrity, describing it as the soul of leadership. If integrity is the soul, then ethics is certainly its heart. Ethical behaviour is acting in ways that are consistent with one’s personal values and the values of the organization in which one functions. “Values” refers to an individual’s or organization’s system of beliefs which define what is good, right and fair. “Ethics” refers to how those values are enacted.
In March 2003 I wrote about integrity, describing it as the soul of leadership.  If integrity is the soul, then ethics is certainly its heart.  Ethical behaviour is acting in ways that are consistent with one’s personal values and the values of the organization in which one functions.  “Values” refers to an individual’s or organization’s system of beliefs which define what is good, right and fair. “Ethics” refers to how those values are enacted.

Programs designed to teach leadership may pose the question: Was Adolf Hitler a good leader?  Hitler told the German people he was going to change Germany and he did.  He had many followers and a sizeable number of supporters – enough to win elections.  On that basis, he could be considered an accomplished leader.  Don’t misunderstand me; I am not pro Hitler. The real question is: What is a good leader in the context of behaviour that relates to actual performance?  

Ethical leadership is characterized by principles that govern a person’s conduct. Values include honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, truthfulness, reliability, responsibility and accountability.  Each of these descriptors defines ethics as it relates to leadership. The point of reference for a person’s ethical leadership behaviour is often rooted in their past.

Where you were raised, the culture and environment of your youth, the activities, values and attitudes of your family and close friends all have an impact.  They contribute to the foundation of your internal tape, and yes we all have an internal tape.  Our tape plays over and over, repeating messages that impact our decisions and actions.  Someone takes advantage of our generosity and we decide to get even or to forgive and forget. Pre-recorded messages are at work.  Accepting the fact that we have a pre-recorded message system and understanding that a knee jerk or automated response to a challenge or issue may not be the right one is an important first step when choosing how to react.  

Ethics is not always about the obvious.  The devil is often found in the details.  For example, we would all agree that it is not acceptable to steal money from a co-worker.  However, many believe it is okay to fudge the numbers when reporting a business expense, effectively stealing money from the employer. 

For these people it’s about getting even with the big bad organization because they believe they are owed. The dilemma is that their head is saying “get even” and their heart is saying “don’t go there.”

Much has been written lately about situational leadership and the importance of executing a particular decision based upon the immediate. It is imperative, however, to realize that the application of ethics should not be dependant upon the situation.  Leaders need to come to grips with the fact that there are tough choices and many challenges associated with the strict application of ethics.  It is imperative we don’t confuse situational leadership with ethical leadership.  

It has been said that moral dynamics give leadership its life every day. Leadership is a complex moral relationship between people that is based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision.  Ethics lies at the very heart of leadership.  Leadership can not exist in the absence of ethics; therefore, an individual void of ethics is not a leader.  

So was Adolf Hitler a leader?  No, Hitler and his kind are tyrants and despots.

You have a role in shaping your behaviour and your organization’s ethics.  Regardless of your position, title or rank you can make a difference.  

And remember, it’s all about “respect and passion.”

E. David Hodgins is the Fire Commissioner for the province of British Columbia.  A 29-year veteran of the fire service, Hodgins is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s public administration program and a certified emergency and disaster manager and fire services instructor. He has held senior fire officer positions in Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario.
Written by E. David Hodgins
Could you, without hesitation, list six of your personally held values? How about six of your fire department’s stated values? Do you routinely make leadership decisions based on these values?
Written by E. David Hodgins
What motivates an individual to become a fire fighter? Is it the pay, the anticipated excitement, public admiration or a true desire to make a difference in one’s community – the “to serve and protect” mindset? I suggest that if most were to answer truthfully, they would say the thrill of an emergency and the admiration of the public top the list.
Written by E. David Hodgins
It’s about business, political acumen
Written by E. David Hodgins
If professional scouts were searching for potential leaders, similar to hockey scouts seeking budding NHL players, what leadership talents would they look for? If gifted leaders can be developed through education and training, then all hockey players, given quality training, should turn out to be like Wayne Gretzky. Right?
Written by E. David Hodgins
Leadership, attitude and about being a grown-up
Written by E. David Hodgins
Showing leadership from ‘within’ the box
Written by E. David Hodgins
Rookies are leaders too, so encourage them
Written by E. David Hodgins
During the past several years truckloads of papers have been written about leadership competencies and expectations associated with the command function required for emergency events. Retired Phoenix fire chief Al Brunacini was one of the first to write and lecture extensively on the need for a formal and structured process to guide decision-making on the fire ground.
Written by E. David Hodgins
I was invited by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation to be the keynote speaker for its fourth annual memorial service on Sept. 9 in Ottawa. The memorial was held on Parliament Hill, directly in front of the Centre Block and it was a resounding success.
Written by E. David Hodgins
This edition of Leadership Forum was created in collaboration with Dr. John Moffatt, who is a partner with Blackstock Moffatt Associates in Sherwood Park, Alta. Blackstock Moffatt Associates is a non-profit provider of leadership training and development services.
Written by Lyle Quan
The cornerstone of any vibrant and successful organization is its ability to build on the information it obtains through courses, seminars and networking with others. Like you, I enjoy reading and sharing the information found in the vast numbers of firefighting-related books and magazines that I receive and have accumulated along with information obtained from DVDs, videos, seminars and courses that we have all attended over the years.
Written by E. David Hodgins
Congratulations Fire Fighting in Canada! Here's to 50 years of dedicated and exceptional reader service. Fifty years ago, individuals of vision recognized the need to create a national voice for the fire service. That brought Fire Fighting in Canada into being.
Written by Barry Bouwsema
Leadership in the fire service is the ability to influence people towards the attainment of goals. The end result on the fireground may be “putting out the fire” but how we arrive at this destination is largely determined by the road we choose to travel.
Written by Barry Bouwsema
Shift officers or supervisors in the workplace today must have superior communication skills in order to lead effectively.  Being able to communicate with others is largely dependent upon how well we can listen to what others are communicating to us.
Written by E.David Hodgins
Researching this subject, I was surprised to learn bullying in the workplace is the most prevalent form of destructive behaviour covered by legislation, outranking sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Reports on workplace violence emphasize that physical and emotional violence is one of the most serious problems facing organizations.
Written by E. David Hodgins
Exchange programs that provide opportunities for fire fighters to switch jobs – and even houses – while working for a department in another country have become popular. Are these programs meaningful? The program promotional materials list several reasons why one should support a fire fighter exchange.
Written by Karin Mark with Fire Chief Len Garis
Initiated in August of 2003, the Attendance Management Program outlines a procedure for managing unsatisfactory staff attendance, using a series of progressive steps that includes letters, counselling and positive reinforcement. 
Page 10 of 10

Subscription Centre

New Subscription
Already a Subscriber
Customer Service
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.