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Leadership Principles of a Highly Effective Battalion Chief. Battalion Chiefs Todd Keathley and John Oliver. Leadership. What is Leadership? True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. It comes only from influence Why is leadership important?

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Leadership Principles of a Highly Effective Battalion Chief

Battalion Chiefs Todd Keathley and John Oliver


What is Leadership?

  • True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. It comes only from influence

Why is leadership important?

  • Leadership ability is the lid that determines your level of effectiveness
  • The single most important ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

Theodore Roosevelt


Qualities of a Leader

  • Trusted
  • Respected
  • Competent
  • Committed
  • Positive attitude
  • Consistent
  • Personal character
  • Integrity
  • Leads by example
  • Inspires others

The measurement of a leader - How many other people have you helped to be successful


Qualities of a Leader

  • Trusted
  • Respected
  • Competent
  • Committed
  • Positive attitude
  • Consistent
  • Personal character
  • Integrity
  • Leads by example
  • Inspires others

Leadership is not a position, it’s a disposition










Qualities of a Leader

  • Trusted
  • Respected
  • Competent
  • Committed
  • Positive attitude
  • Consistent
  • Personal character
  • Integrity
  • Leads by example
  • Inspires others

Leadership is firefighter safety


Lessons learned from the SC fatal fire: Tragedy to Triumph

The instructor relates how this tragedy has changed the department forever and caused a transition from operating with outdated, unsafe practices to a department leading the way in education and training on a national level. The instructor explains how improper leadership, education and organizational culture lead to this senseless tragedy. This event is reflected in the changes seen in almost every operation the department performs. Among the changes address are new hiring criteria, fair promotional policies based on performance not popularity, and the development of many training programs.

2013 FDIC Symposium


What does success as a Battalion Chief look

like to you?

When you have earned the trust and respect of your subordinates, colleagues and superiors.


Can leadership be learned?

In fact, there is no greater return on your investment then the effort that you will put into being a leader. It takes a conscious effort on your part. Start making the investment today.

Take good leaders and make them great


How do we develop our leadership skills?

  • The first person we must examine is ourselves - Mirror
  • Who we are determines how we see others - Lens
  • Leadership is not developed in a day, it’s developed daily

Tell me your favorite leadership book or author?

getting real
Getting Real
  • Admit your faults
  • Ask for advice
  • Worry less about what others think, reputation verses integrity
  • Be open to learning from others
  • Put away pride and pretense

One of the nice things about being imperfect is the joy that it brings to others


Strength Based Leadership

  • CEO’s of major corporations are great at one aspect of their industry.
  • They surround themselves with people that possess the skill sets they don’t have. Roy Disney, Steve Jobs.

The Universal Fear – That at some point someone’s going to realize it’s just me.

See yourself as a Battalion Chief that doesn’t have all the answers but someone who will use their skills and the skills of their co-workers to meet the responsibilities of the position.

five levels of leadership
Five levels of leadership

#5Personhood – People follow you because of who you are

and what you represent

#4People development – People follow you because of what

you have done for them

#3Production – People follow you because of what you have done for the organization

#2Permission - People follow you because they want to

#1Position - People follow you because they have to

building trust
Building Trust

There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build trust

  • Competence
  • Character
  • Connection – personally & professionally






Substance abuse

Health issues


Personal Character

Demonstrated in the little decisions made everyday

  • Decisions – character or compromise:
    • Do the right thing, even if that choice brings negative consequences.
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character, especially when it comes to leadership.
  • Character makes trust possible and trust makes leadership possible.
  • Your actions have to match your words.
building trust1
Building Trust

PepsiCo chairman and

CEO Craig Weatherup acknowledges,

“People will tolerate honest mistakes, but if you violate their trust you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence. That is one reason that you need to treat trust as your most precious asset. You may fool your boss but you can never fool your colleges or subordinates.”

John Maxwell – Leadership 101

building trust2
Building Trust

How to you secure a positive influence in the organization?

“You don’t build trust by talking about it.

You build it by achieving results, always

with integrity and in a manner that shows

real personal regard for the people with

whom you work.”

John Maxwell – Leadership 101

gaining respect
Gaining Respect

The transition from a member of the crew to the Battalion Chief

  • You can’t force it
  • You can’t demand it
  • Let people come to their own conclusion
  • When in command, take command
  • Be flexibly concrete
  • Treat people as you want them to be
  • Believe in your people before they believe

in themselves

gaining respect1
Gaining Respect
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes
  • Give away the credit
  • Push recognition down
  • Be a humble leader
  • Delegate effectively
  • Lead by example
role of the company officer
Role of the Company Officer

Most important position in the Fire Service

Direct supervision of Firefighters

Training (be the catalyst)

Be a student of the job

Be a coach and mentor

Clearly define employee expectations

Confirm employee knowledge of policies and procedures

most important job of a company officer
Most Important job of a Company Officer?

To implement the goals and objective of the organization on a daily basis as they've been defined by your administration.

Through the use of PPE

Policies, Procedures and Expectations


Where do the policies and procedures in the

Fire Service come from?

Injuries & fatalities

  • Best Practice
  • Minimum Standard

If your organization killed a firefighter today, what policies, procedures, practices and philosophies would we change tomorrow?

Many causes are fundamental and rudimentary in nature

Organizations make sweeping changes after the fatal event

Poor apparatus placement

Improper line selection/placement

Poor radio communications

Free lancing/lack of team continuity

Applying offensive tactics to a

defensive situation

Lack of equipment maintenance

Failure to evaluate risk versus benefit

Lack of equipment knowledge/familiarity


Crew attempted to follow hose lines on the floor to locate the exit; however, hose lines were tangled on the floor, creating a problem on exiting

Firefighters located a hose line and were following the line out but discovered they were going back into the structure when they reached the nozzle

“Champions don’t beat themselves If you want to win, do the ordinary things better then anyone else – day in and day out. We’re not going to fool people or out scheme them. We’re just going to outplay them. Because we’ll know what we’re doing. When we get into critical situations, we won’t have to think. We’ll play fast and fundamentally sound.”

Chuck Noll

defining expectations
Defining Expectations

Be familiar with the organizational policies and procedures

Identify areas of importance or concern

Define your personal expectations

Provide organizational and personal expectations to your members “in-writing”

Promotes employee success

Prevents injuries and fatalities

Prevents conflict

#1 reason for employee supervisor conflict

Lack of or misunderstanding of employee expectations



On February 10, 2010, a 69-year-old male Fire Chief (the victim) died after being crushed between a parked tanker and a pumper being backed into the fire station.


NIOSH Report – January 2012

One Career Fire Fighter Killed, Another Seriously Injured When Struck By a Vehicle While Working at a Grass Fire Along an Interstate Highway

content of interior radio reports
Content of interior radio reports

Location, Location

Heat conditions


Possible extension

Hazardous conditions

Changing conditions


Interior size up


Instruct firefighters not to overcrowd the area of the interior attack team.

On December 20, 2004, a 24-year-old male career probationary firefighter (the victim) died after he became separated from a fire-attack team at a two-alarm, single-story, residential structure fire.

solutions for overcrowding
Solutions for overcrowding?

Identify overcrowding as a safety issue

Appropriate use of resources by

Incident Commander

Location for Back-up line

Feedback from interior crews

It’s better to prepare then to repair

Define expectations early and often !

If Only

implementing a program or change that you don t agree with
Implementing a program or change that you don’t agree with
  • Educate yourself
  • Tell your members WHY
  • Listen to their concerns
  • Look for opportunities to improve the program or change
  • Provide feedback

Circle of influence

Total Control


No Control

ways to improve your team
Ways to improve your team
  • Improve yourself – leaders are learners
  • Identify team’s strengths and train to improve weaknesses
  • Recognize individual performance and achievement
  • Assist subordinates in reaching their goals
  • Evaluate attitudes (expand their focus)
  • Prepare – the 6 P’s

As the supervisor goes, so goes their subordinates.

ways to improve your team1
Ways to improve your team
  • The secret to your success and the success of your team is found in your daily agenda

Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there. If you want to see where someone develops into a champion, look at their daily routine.

John Maxwell

3 area s that determine an employee s success
3 Area’s that Determine an Employee’s Success
  • Conceptual
  • Technical
  • Human
  • Harvard Business Review

Organizationally, where have we been, where are we today and where are we going in the future

  • Quarterly Report
  • Strategic Plan
  • Standard of Cover
  • Budget
  • Annual Newsletter

Are you capable of making emergency scene decisions in accordance with your policies & procedures that keep people safe and in a manner that reflects

a command presents?

  • Fire Ground
  • Hazardous Materials
  • MCI
  • Confined Space
  • Water Rescue

What kind of character and skills do you demonstrate when dealing with people

  • Dealing with conflict
  • Dealing with the poor performer
  • Creating a positive work environment
  • Demonstrating a genuine respect for people
  • Dealing with the public
dealing with conflict
Dealing with Conflict
  • It’s unavoidable
  • Nobody likes conflict
  • Why is it difficult to confront?
    • Fear of being disliked
    • Fear of being misunderstood
    • Fear of rejection
    • Fear of the unknown
harmful strategies
Harmful Strategies
  • Win at all cost
  • Whine about it
  • Pulling rank
  • Pretend it doesn’t exist

Conflict is like cancer, early detection increases the possibility of a healthy outcome.

conflict poor performance
Conflict / Poor Performance
  • 80% of the time people don’t realize there
  • is a problem
  • 30% of them realize there is a problem,
  • but don’t know how to solve it
  • 20% percent realized there is a problem,
  • but don’t want to solve it
  • Your job is to tell people what reality is
healthy conflict resolution
Healthy Conflict Resolution
  • Care before you confront. What's best for the employee?
  • Meet together ASAP.
  • First seek understanding, then agreement.
  • Outline the problem:
      • Describe your perception
      • Explain why it’s important to you
      • Tell how it impacts you and/or the team
healthy conflict resolution1
Healthy Conflict Resolution
  • Encourage a response and “listen”. Listening will:
      • Confirm your perception is accurate
      • Identify extenuating circumstances
      • Better understand the problem
      • Employee needs to know they were heard
  • 6. Agree to an action plan
      • What does the corrected behavior or

performance look like?

dealing with poor performance
Dealing with Poor Performance
  • Identify the problem, not a symptom
    • Skill or will
    • Attitude or knowledge
  • How is this effecting the individual and or

the team?

dealing with poor performance1
Dealing with Poor Performance
  • Identify the performance issue for the employee
  • Let the employee respond and listen
  • Identify future expectations for the employee
  • What does the employee need from you to meet

these expectations or be successful?

  • Show confidence in the employee, you are in

this together

  • See this as a training opportunity
workplace environment
Workplace Environment
  • Lead by example
  • Basic level of RESPECT
  • Good general conduct
  • Impact and consequences
  • The inappropriate actions of an employee will impact them and you!

Conduct in the Workplace

  • How long will it be funny?
  • You can’t put the genie back in the bottle
  • What is funny in a fire station has no humor in a court of law
  • Even if you win in a court, you loose
  • There are no special rules or consideration for the fire service work environment or schedule

If what was said in your fire station today was printed in the newspaper tomorrow, how would it sound?


Conduct in the Workplace

  • Supervisors
  • Are expected to maintain a productive,

non-hostile work environment.

  • Are expected to educate employees about

rules and conduct that violates policies

involving jokes, comments, actions,

electronic devices, etc.


employee performance behavior
Employee Performance/Behavior
  • Counseling
  • Discipline
  • Begin with the end in mind, what do you want to accomplish?
  • Take the personalities out of it
  • Everyone else is watching
steps for a counseling session
Steps for a counseling session
  • Identify the problem - be specific
  • In writing – dates, times, members present and circumstances
  • Let employee give input and listen to the employee’s point of view
  • Stay on task an on topic
  • Define future objectives, expectations/performance

Calm voice, no emotion

steps for counseling session
Steps for Counseling Session
  • Does the employee need anything from you?
  • Get commitment from employee.
  • Show confidence that employee can and will improve.
  • Schedule a follow-up session.
  • Document

Calm voice, no emotion

What if the employee becomes angry?

  • Assume nothing – Fact Find
  • Documentation
  • Proper notifications – Supervisor, HR
  • What punishment fits the crime?
    • Fair, consistent, objective
  • Has the same or similar offense occurred prior?
  • What were the intentions of the employee?

When are you required to offer union representation?

employee discipline
Employee Discipline
  • What is the purpose? (Change behavior)
  • Some employees need this process to change
  • Fact find - Investigatory interview
  • What is your organizations past practice?
  • Notification of Supervisors
  • Union Representation
  • Human Resources
  • Documentation

Don’t Personalize



  • Study leadership with intention
  • Work to develop your leadership skills
  • Lead with humility, character and Integrity
  • Clearly define your expectations
  • Help others to succeed
  • Believe in people before they believe in themselves
  • Be constructively discontent


Be Safe!


Hunter said he was in shock for most of the time after the floor collapsed. Much later - when he realized he had failed to answer a radio call - he relieved himself of duty and headed home to Monroe in what he described as the longest drive of his life.

His wife, Etta, said when he telephoned her she could barely understand him.

"The closest that I can describe it is that it was like a wail. Sheer agony," she said. "The pain of still being alive when somebody that you care about is dead."

Hunter's spouse said in the future, fire officials should accompany an officer home in such circumstances.

"For a while, I couldn't see how I could ever go back to work," Hunter said. "I took a leave for almost one month, then I was ready to go back," he said.

In all, 30 firefighters took leaves for ailments ranging from stress to burns.

Seattle Times Jan 5, 1995