Thursday, January 28, 2016

IGNITE: Taking Risks & Facing Challenges

Leaders take risks and face challenges every day. –Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 6
Leaders take risks and face challenges every day. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 6
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

South Puget Sound Shows How to Lead by Following

A few weeks ago, we announced the winners of the 2015 IGNITE - From the Field for the Field Contest award winners. Thanks goes out to all those who participated.

Over the next couple of months, we will share leadership nuggets from the submissions. Even though we share them, we HIGHLY recommend you read review the application packets for yourself. After all, they are FROM THE FIELD FOR THE FIELD!

First Place Winners
Washington Department of Natural Resources
- South Puget Sound Region -



LEADING THE CHANGE

Within our organizations – particularly in governmental organizations – change is often dictated by something well outside our control and we are tasked with implementing the change. Instead of being a blind follower and doing something that someone else told you to do, become an active follower in your organization who is the transition point in the chain and become the one to lead the change. This way of thinking is best summed up in the following passage by Sergeant First Class Michael T. Woodward, in the US Army journal Infantry:
Effective leadership requires followers who are more than Pavlovian reactors to their leaders’ influences. When followers actively contribute, are aware of their function, and take personal pride in the art of followership, then the joint purpose of leadership and followership – higher levels of mission accomplishment – is achieved effectively.
This mindset on change is not limited to or unique to our program, nor is it something that can only be implemented when you “have the time.” By all measures, Washington State had its worst fire season on record in 2015 (over one million acres burned to date). The above examples are what we have been able to implement throughout an extraordinary fire season and we have at least half a dozen ideas so far that we plan to implement for 2016. All these examples stemmed from a change outside of our control where we saw an opportunity to implement an idea and help guide the change. While the ideas hatched and pursued may be different, the mindset can be used effectively in any group – an engine module, a Hotshot crew, a fire district, and even at a state or federal agency level. The only limitation is your willingness to accept and promote the mindset. This is when followership is leadership; where the synergy between the two produces greatness and the opportunity to Lead the Change.

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Listed below are some of the activities SPS wants to share with you. Click here to download SPS's packet with more details about how they implemented their leadership development.


FOLLOWERS AND LEADERS OF PEOPLE

South Puget Initial Attack
Changed the crews' mindsets as mop-up specialists to initial attack resources. 

A-Team Pro Tip
Captured learning opportunities and shared them immediately with the engine crews via text message.

Teambuilding Day
One full day committed entirely to building cohesion among all crews. This one-day catalyst sets the tone for the season. 

A-Team Leadership Award
The fire foresters established a leadership award for exemplary performance. Selection must be a unanimous decision and may not be awarded annually.

LEADER OF LEADERS

Leadership Library
Started a leadership library with books received from the 2014 IGNITE contest. Region staff added books and videos to create an ever-growing selection. 

Fire Training Academy and the L-280 Roadshow
Volunteered to teach L-280 courses at the fire training academy as well in other regions. Exposed non-fire program staff to leadership. 

Hose Drills - Seasonal vs. Permanent
Broke down barriers between season and permanent personnel and built team cohesion through proficiency drills. 

Shared Ideas on Leadership
Shared leadership ideas and exercises between non-fire workgroups and fire workgroups. 

LEADERS OF ORGANIZATIONS
Our success to date has driven us to push our ideas up the chain to the top of our agency and to the leadership of our cooperating partners. The fire districts that we share wildland protection with are impacted the most by this, so we’ve paid particular attention to their needs and made conscious efforts to develop ideas with them.

Annual Refresher Module - Leadership Greatness and Apollo 13
Developed a leadership module for our annual refresher that was built around David Marquet’s “Greatness” speech/video and the “Houston, we have a problem” scene in Apollo 13.

Fire Open House
Established an open house for all fire districts within our region to meet face-to-face with our cooperating partners in a controlled setting. Doing so gave us a significant advantage this fire season when we were able to recognize and make a connection with our counterparts as we arrived on scene of rapidly expanding incidents.

Cooperating Agency Initial Attack AARs
Expanded AARs to involve cooperating agencies.

Developing Training Opportunities
Recognized areas of need and took the initiative to address them, including wildland awareness training for structural firefighters.

Monday, January 25, 2016

IGNITE: Handling Failure

The question is not, "Are you going to fail?" The question is, "How are you going to handle your failure?" –John C Maxwell
The question is not, "Are you going to fail?" The question is, "How are you going to handle your failure?" – John C. Maxwell
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

IGNITE: Valuing Ourselves

Integrity is how we value ourselves. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 66
Integrity is how we value ourselves. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 66

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gina Papke on Influential People


Influential People from The Smokey Generation on Vimeo.
Where is it written that you need a title to be a leader? According to Leading in the Wildland Fire Service,

Leadership is the art of influencing people in order to achieve a result. The most essential element for success in the wildland fire service is good leadership.  (p. 1)

Where we serve doesn't matter. What matters is the quality of service we provide to the overall mission. Each group in the fire service has importance and influences in a manner different from the other. We all, regardless of our position in the organization, have a duty to do our best wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Unlike the television show Cheers, you don't have to be a leader "where everyone knows your name." 

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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

Monday, January 18, 2016

IGNITE: Doing the Right Thing

The time is always right to do the right thing. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The time is always right to do the right thing. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

IGNITE: Command Climate

Team members develop a perception of the command climate based on their understanding of how they are expected to perform, how they are treated, and how they must conform to their leader’s individual style and personality. –Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 19
Team members develop a perception of the command climate based on their understanding of how they are expected to perform, how they are treated, and how they must conform to their leader’s individual style and personality. – Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, page 19
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Making Sense out of Chaos


confused dog
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE TROUBLE SPELLING** * !!!! TRY THIS!!!! AOCDRNDICG TO RSCHEEARCH AT CMABRIGDE UINERVTISY , IT DSENO'T MTAETR WAHT OERDR THE LTTERES IN A WROD ARE, THE OLNY IPROAMTNT TIHNG IS TAHT THE FRSIT AND LSAT LTEETR BE IN THE RGHIT PCLAE. TIHS IS BCUSEAE THE HUAMN MNID DEOS NOT RAED ERVEY LTETER BY ISTLEF, BUT THE WROD AS A WLOHE. IF YOU CAN RAED TIHS, PSOT IT TO YUOR WLAL. OLNY 55% OF PLEPOE CAN!!!!!!
The paragraph above has come across my news feed numerous times. I don't know if the contents (assuming you are able to make sense of it) are true. Seeing it recently sparked me to write about connection to leadership and communicating leader's intent.

The First Letter - The Task
Task—what is the objective or goal of the assignment.
How many times have you listened to a briefing and failed to receive solid, well-defined objectives? Many times the objectives provided are broiler plate; we know what the leader is going to say before they say it. Much like the paragraph above, we are left to make sense out of jumbled words. Well-defined and communicated leader's intent empowers our people to exercise individual initiative and take appropriate risks and actions as the situation requires to accomplish the mission.

All the Letters in the Middle - The Purpose
Purpose—why the assignment needs to be done.
Leaders often face difficult problems to which there are no simple, clear cut, by-the-book solutions. In these situations, leaders must use their knowledge, skill, experience, education, values, and judgment to make decisions and to take or direct actionin short, to provide leadership.

The ultimate purpose of the wildland fire service is to protect life, property, and natural resources while engaging the forces of nature. Most of us made a commitment to serve our communities, our states, or our nation. Making sense out of the senseless brings everyone home safely.

The Last Letter - The End State
End state—how the situation should look when the assignment is successfully completed.
The leadership challenge in the wildland fire service is to influence people to accomplish tasks and objectives under confusing, dangerous, and ambiguous conditions. Like making sense of the paragraph above, fire leaders find ways of bringing order to chaos. The art of leadership requires a constant interchange of theory and application. The art also includes being able to view the larger picturediscerning 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.

[Excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service were used to develop this blog.]

Monday, January 11, 2016

IGNTIE: Integrity is...

Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are. –John C Maxwell

Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are. – John C. Maxwell

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http://www.fireleadership.gov/

Friday, January 8, 2016

Treehouse Therapy - Giving Beyond the Fireline

Healing Help: BLM Smokejumpers’ Treehouse TherapyStory by Jessica Gardetto, Public Affairs Specialist
Photos by Todd Jinkins, BLM Smokejumper

This past fall, a Boise BLM Smokejumper's five year old son, Maximo Wyatt, was struck by a car while riding his bike. The boy was pinned under the vehicle and dragged a short way, causing him to sustain critical injuries; he had to be hospitalized for almost two months, with numerous surgeries, skin grafts, and burn treatments. The Boise community rallied to help the boy and his parents, who both work for the BLM, by organizing a fundraiser, book drive, and other supportive events. 

BLM Smokejumpers built Maximo a treehouse to help him heal from his injuries.
BLM Smokejumpers built Maximo a treehouse to help him heal from his injuries.
When Max was about to return home, the Boise BLM Smokejumpers wanted to do something special for him. His mother noted that Max will need to spend a significant amount of time stretching his arms over his head to promote healing from his skin grafts, so the smokejumpers decided to build him a treehouse. He had always wanted one, so it seemed a fitting surprise for his homecoming, plus treehouse play promotes climbing, just the type of exercise that he needs.
The beginning of the treehouse construction
The beginning of the treehouse construction
The jumpers worked over several weekends to build the boy a treehouse in his yard, without him or his father knowing. When the family returned home after Thanksgiving, the smokejumpers had finished the 128 square foot, two-floored treehouse. It is definitely a sight to behold with a ladder, sliding pole, windows, and a door.
A good number of smokejumpers helped wit the project, which made its quick construction feasible.
A good number of smokejumpers helped wit the project, which made its quick construction feasible.
The Boise Fire Department picked Max and his father up at the airport, driving them home in their fire engine. The boy was ecstatic because not every five year old is able to ride in a fire engine, lights blazing, to his own house. When they arrived at home, Max found the treehouse all lit up with Christmas lights and immediately began playing in it. Max is very happy with the treehouse and so are his parents.

A kid's dream treehouse with glass windows, a door and a deck
A kid's dream treehouse with glass windows, a door and a deck
Though he still has a long recovery, the Boise Smokejumpers and the rest of the BLM community are wishing Max a swift healing process -- plus a lot of fun-filled hours spent in his new deluxe treehouse.

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Originally posted in the BLM Daily, December 29, 2015.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Takeaways From L-580 – Leadership is Action, Gettysburg Staff Ride by BLM Fire Operations Group


On October 26, 2015, the BLM Fire Operations Group (FOG) attended a fall delivery of the L-580 Leadership is Action Gettysburg Staff Ride at the historic battlefield in Gettysburg, PA. The L-580 course’s target group includes senior-level leaders and decision makers and Incident Management Team members. The Gettysburg delivery of L-580 spends two days evaluating and examining the decisions, actions and leadership styles of key commanders of the 1863 battle which drastically influenced the outcome of the American Civil War.

About Staff Rides
Staff Rides have been utilized by the U.S. Military for decades as an instructional method to teach leadership skills. A true staff ride consists of three distinct phases: 1) a systematic Preliminary Study of a selected fire or other emergency operation, 2) an extensive Field Study to the actual site(s) associated with the incident, 3) an opportunity for Integration of the lessons derived from the study and visit.
The FOG L-580 Group discussing the Confederate Army position and vantage from Seminary Ridge. (Photo by Steve Shaw)
For the Gettysburg Staff Ride, the book Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and multiple academic articles were assigned as pre-work. In addition to describing the human elements of leadership at all levels in a large organization, this gripping novel demonstrates the impact leadership successes and failures can have on history (Note – the Killer Angels is in the NWCG Leadership Development Professional Reading Program Library). The thorough student preparation required prior to arriving at the battlefield helps participants to be familiar with the important events during the battle so more time can be dedicated to evaluating the decisions of the leaders involved and the human factors which influenced these decisions.

For the field study portion of the L-580 Gettysburg Staff Ride, students follow the events of the battle in chronological order, from initial troop engagement (Initial Attack), to emerging incident (Type 3 Incident) to a full scale battle of armies (Type 1 Incident). Being on the actual ground provides perspective on the influence of topography and the challenge of troop maneuver over a large geographic area (concepts that are very relevant to wildland firefighting and fire management).

FOG Takeaways from the L-580 Gettysburg Staff Ride

The following FOG takeaways from L-580 were derived from the integration dinner at the conclusion of the course:
  • Listen to your competent subordinate commanders and empower them to make decisions, for they are closest to the point of friction. This concept was highly evident when examining the actions of Major General Buford, "Who with the first inspiration of a cavalry officer selected this battlefield", the high ground, to the Union Army's advantage throughout the battle...” (as inscribed on the Buford Monument at Gettysburg). Wildland fire leaders who provide clear leader’s intent and allow skilled firefighters to accomplish the end state empower independent decisions to be made when conditions change. This concept can easily be applied to our initial attack ICs, engine captains, hotshot superintendents, smokejumper squad leaders, helitack foreman, and fire operations supervisors.
Major General John Buford’s monument on McPherson Ridge. (Photo credit: Paul Hohn)
Major General John Buford’s monument on McPherson Ridge. (Photo credit: Paul Hohn)
  • "General, I do this under protest." These words, uttered by Major General Hood to his superior, Lieutenant General Longstreet, demonstrates the difficult position many of our mid-level leaders face in wildland fire when a decision is unpopular, or perhaps unwise. There is a balance between supporting our leaders and our own ideals, as well as an appropriate way to voice dissent to a leader's decision. 
  • Without the common soldier, executing the tactics of the battle strategy, there would be no victory for any commander. Doing your job, and doing it well, is important in any organization, especially in wildland fire. We cannot all be infamous "Generals". 
  • The 51,000 casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg is a reminder of the importance every life holds. As leaders in wildland fire we have an awesome and daunting responsibility to care for the well-being of all those we lead. Our firefighters are irreplaceable; they are immensely important to their families and loved ones. All our decisions as leaders in wildland fire should be anchored in our responsibilities to provide for the well-being of those we lead. 
  • During the Battle of Gettysburg, many of the core commanders did not agree and/or had conflicting ideas as to what should occur. Their belief in the mission and their commanders allowed them to work towards what they believed in; they did so while faced with the horrible consequence of losing human lives. Similarly, in wildland fire there are several challenges we face on a daily basis. It is important to realize that we don't always agree but some conflict and disagreement is healthy. As long as we work towards a common goal, work through our differing opinions, and believe in our mission, amazing things can be accomplished.
General Robert E. Lee Monument on Seminary Ridge at sunrise. (Photo by Paul Hohn)
  • One of the common themes throughout the staff ride was trust. Whether it was General Robert E Lee’s lack of confidence and trust in his subordinates, or General George Meade's reliance on his commanders - his former peers - for his decision-making, trust was very influential during the battle. Trust should be an important building block in all of our programs. Lack trust of can be disastrous. As leaders in wildland fire, we have been entrusted with the lives and futures of many young men and women. It is important that a high level of trust and empowerment is built into our organizations from the bottom up. By doing this, we enable our programs to surge forward into the future with confidence and positive results. 
  • During multiple instances in the Battle of Gettysburg subordinate leaders either did or did not act when opportunities presented themselves. These tactical reactions made huge impacts to the outcome of the battle. Similarly, in wildland fire we need to make the most of the "scraps of time" and recognize when the "windows of opportunity are open." Effective leaders work hard and seize opportunities when they present themselves. Our leaders need to be resilient enough to be able to capitalize on those windows of opportunity that present themselves during an incident and in fire management. Unlike our larger agencies, the fire community is extremely good at adapting quickly. 
  • As leaders in wildland fire, it is important to build a trust climate with our operators in the field. As with battlefield commanders, wildland fire managers rely on our field operators to provide the information needed to make good strategic decisions. 
  • It is humbling to consider the selfless sacrifice thousands of soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg were willing to bear because of their sense of duty to a cause. Likewise in wildland fire, we should not take lightly the sacrifice our firefighters endure, nor their sense of duty. All leaders in wildland fire are responsible to ensure our firefighters’ sacrifices are commensurate with the values we strive to protect. 
L-580 participants walking to the start of Picket’s Charge at sunrise. (Photo by Paul Hohn)
The FOG is an institution in the BLM Fire organization which prides itself in being a highly functional, agile, and responsive team which shows initiative to provide solutions to issues impacting the members of the fire organization closest to the ground. Participation in this training served as an excellent team building experience for the FOG, improving rapport and fostering an esprit de corps among the FOG's members. The FOG will apply the lessons learned from L-580 as we continue to face challenging leadership decisions in wildland fire. Participating in this training as a group has strengthened the FOG, and we highly encourage other leadership groups in the fire community to consider attending.
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Thanks to Paul Hohn, WY BLM Asst. State FMO, for this submission. All thoughts are those of the contributors.

Monday, January 4, 2016

IGNITE: Service

If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you. – Anonymous
If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you. – Anonymous

IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks. ‪#‎fireleadership‬ ‪#‎fireminis‬

http://www.fireleadership.gov/