In today’s Fire Service, we have members that step up into a role that they are not normally in. A Firefighter stepping up to the Driver position and is the “acting” engineer for the shift. The Engineer that moves to the right side of the truck for a shift. Or the Officer that goes from the truck to the Battalion Chief for a shift.
My question to all who have, or could possibly have, the opportunity to “act” in a position above their normal rank, is will you serve or will you act? Now some may be wondering if there is a difference and I will tell you that yes there is.
Someone who “Acts” in a position above their normal rank goes around with a chip on their shoulder and lets everyone know that “they” are the one in charge and making the decisions. They treat the members they are with, in a different manner than normal. They get a very different attitude than they would normally have and let the honor of being in a higher position, even if it’s is only for a few hours or a shift, go to their head. They make the personnel perform duties and do not offer to assist. They hover over and have micro-managing tendencies. They forget that one day the very people they are “acting” above may one day succeed them.
Serving in a position one would not normally be in, takes on a much different role. One who steps up and “serves,” treats their personnel with respect and gives them opportunities to step up into their position. If you are serving, you are providing a service to the community and your department. You take on the responsibility with great pride and honor. You take the role seriously and make absolutely certain that you do not do anything to make yourself, your crew or your department look bad. They offer to assist their crew with tasks but at the same time they do not micro-manage their personnel.
If you have a tendency to “Act,” I would ask you to consider your actions and how they affect the rest of the crew. Make a conscious attempt to change your ways so that you may “serve” in the position. Be aware of how you conduct yourself and remember that YOU in the position you step up into, set the tone for your crew. You decide whether or not your guys are going to respect you as a leader and do what you ask them to without question.
I would like to end with a quote from a movie that I would like everyone to remember:
“Attitude reflects leadership.”