"I would like to challenge the contemporary thinking that something or someone has to be new to be good. We make a grave mistake when we look at the future with our backs to the past. The past is what brought us to where we are." - Ralph Shrader
I recently moved into a new office and had the opportunity to walk down memory lane as I sifted through my leadership files. One of the articles I came upon was “Ralph Shrader’s Leadership Test: Is Anybody Following?” as published on January 12, 2005, in Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) is an example of an enduring institution found within the wildland fire service. Agency leaders tasked with maintaining the program have vowed to bring about cultural change through “innovation and adaptation, leadership that balances stability and change, and being committed to excellence” (Shrader, 2005).
The test of an enduring institution is whether or not it can survive through leadership turnover. The WFLDP has had many great leaders, including Paul Gleason who died in 2003 and Jim Cook who retires at the end of the year. Cook, co-chair of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee, has been a guiding force in wildland leadership development. Cook’s departure will affect the institution, but Cook leaves an enduring institution as his legacy. Cook's contributions and mentoring leaves successors well-equipped and prepared to carry the torch forward.
Here are some encouraging words for upcoming WFLDP leaders:
- "The only way a next generation of innovators comes into existence is with the guidance and shaping of successful leaders who have gone before." ~ Gregg Fairbrothers, adjunct professor of business administration at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth speaking after the death of Apple's Steve Jobs.
- "Level 5 leaders set up their successors for even greater success." ~ Jim Collins, from his book Good to Great.
- "I don't have to do it alone." ~ Coach Jim Caldwell, answer to "How will you fill those big shoes?" following Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy's retirement.
Thanks for showing us the way and being such a great leader, Jim!