Leadership vs. Management

Captain Willie Wines Jr by Nate Camfiord editedI had the opportunity a few days ago to sit down with a few folks and talk about the job.

Actually, we talked about ME, my thoughts, goals, accomplishments, short comings etc. It was the purpose of our meeting.

They caught me at a bad time.

My good friend, and Senior Firefighter; Michael Todd Harris …aka “Boots”, who was forced into retirement just over a year ago due to a battle with cancer had just passed away the previous morning.

Needless to say, my mind wasn’t focused on our discussion. I’m not sure why I even showed up in the first place.

I don’t remember much of our meeting. Sitting there wasn’t as important to me as it once seemed. It’s wasn’t nearly as important as getting back to where I needed to be … beside Todd’s family.

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I do remember a few questions / things we discussed and wanted to share those with you.

After turning it over and over in my mind, and trying to get it all into focus; I think what our discussion boiled down to was Leadership vs. Management.

Im-humanAs a Captain on the job, they wanted to know what I thought my biggest “weakness” was.

The answer was simple and one that each of us in that room shared … I’M HUMAN.

That means I’m NOT perfect. I’m NOT without sin.

I’ve certainly made mistakes and I’m just as certain to make more.

I’ve made poor decisions, spoken before I thought and done things I’ve later regretted.

It may not have been the best answer for me to give because as much as being “human” is a weakness, it’s also a strength.

Being human also allows me to see the mistakes I’ve made and to recognize my other weaknesses. Being human gives me logic and allows me to formulate corrective actions. It allows me to LEARN from those mistakes and grow.

Again I’ll say that this most likely wasn’t the best answer (or at least not the one they were “looking for”) but it was an honest answer. It’s how I felt sitting there.

Sitting there, under the “spot light”, talking to people I didn’t know. Needing to make myself “look good” to people who’s thoughts / opinion of me (as a person) I could care less about. Sitting there, talking about me and all that when “Boots” had died just 24 hours ago. With his family at home grieving, needing someone strong to lean on. With a funeral to finish planning. This person to call / contact …. this to get done … that. My mind was racing, a jumbled mess … I was sick to my stomach.

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downloadThe other question I remember them asking was more of wanting an example. They wanted me to share with them a time when, as a Captain; I had to order my members to to do something they didn’t want to… something “unpopular”.

As firefighters, we do that all the time. It could be simple things like mowing the grass, testing hose or performing hydrant maintenance in 90 degree weather. There are also far worse things I’ve had to ask my men to do.

When I thought about it, although I have somewhat “asked” at times, I’ve never really had to force or “order” my members to do anything.

I’ve always had that type of relationship with my members. In addition, I’ve always had good crews.

slide-1-728I don’t have to hear a bunch of bitching and crying when I say we have to do this or that. They know I wouldn’t ask something of them unless it was necessary for one reason or another.

They also know that I’m not a “point and watch” type of Captain. If my boys are working, I’m right by their side.

Can I manage my crew and accomplish all of our assigned tasks? Sure I can.

I’d rather LEAD them and get the job done.

I don’t know. Maybe I should have taken some of those college courses throughout the years. Maybe I should have went after a degree. Maybe 15 years as a Captain, (18 as an Officer) doesn’t qualify as “or equivalent experience”?

I do know one thing, I’d rather lead than manage, my conscious is clear and I don’t have any trouble sleeping at night.

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Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines