Chief Vincent Wolfe might be the greatest historian of the fire service I’ve ever met. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned from him. With nearly 40 years in the fire service, Chief Wolfe has a huge treasure chest of knowledge to pass on. I contacted him to ask for his best tips for managing people. His response is this.
I really appreciate your reaching out to me for this. First I would like to change a word that you used. I don’t feel that you worked for me. I believe we worked together.
I don’t know that I have three bullet point items that I can throw out as a core to my theory or practice of management. At some point, years ago, someone else opened my eyes that the secret to success didn’t center on me. Success was a team/group effort.
As a result of this I began to use non critical situations for people to exercise the things we taught them in training. I would step aside and allow younger members to have an opportunity take charge of an incident or to perform at a level above their position.
These events/incidents allowed them to gain confidence in their abilities or to show some short comings. In either case the event was non critical and either allowed them to adjust or to alter and improve their capabilities. Thus allowing them to feel that they had gained our confidence and respect.
On certain incidents i would intentionally take my time getting to the scene and force them to perform the initial size up and initiate the tactical decisions for the call. In most of those cases, there was no need for me to assume command upon my arrival.
These non critical events bolstered their confidence and lessened the anxiety of confronting a larger more critical event.
During our time in Iraq, it was incredibly obvious that we had many extraordinary people working with us. Any competent officer would have been a fool to not step back and take advantage of these resources.
I firmly believe that every Chief, Officer, Engineer and lead Firefighter owes it to his organization, people and customers to share their knowledge, experience and wisdom with those that they supervise.
We have to work today, to prepare the leaders of tomorrow. Every day that one waits is a day wasted.
As I stated earlier, I to appreciate your support, your efforts and your energy during the time we were together. I hope that these musings with fit your need and work into your program. Please keep my informed of the programs development and progress.
Wow! Thank you Chief.
Take a look at my “round-up” of Chief Wolfe’s comments on the landing page. And don’t forget to hit our contact page and sign-up for email updates.