Archive for October, 2012

14 Common Mistakes Made by New (and Not So New) Fire Chiefs

Monday, October 29th, 2012

After working with four new fire chiefs over the last six years, I’ve noticed some dysfunctional patterns of behavior that, if not corrected, have a significant negative impact on the new chiefs’ ability to create and maintain their departments’ forward momentum. Based on my observation and experience, here are fourteen of the most common mistakes:

    1. Setting a poor example by making self-care a low priority

    2. Answering the questions asked (e.g., “How will you cut your department’s budget?”) instead of changing the conversation by asking their own questions (e.g., “What is the level of public safety you wish to provide the community?”)

    3. Missing opportunities to educate the community and decision-makers about the impact of budget cuts on public safety

    4. Communicating what the department does rather than focusing on the value it provides

    5. Creating time management nightmares for themselves by consistently scheduling back-to-back meetings

    6. Reverting to their firefighter training and instincts when they feel overwhelmed

    7. Maintaining a task focus instead of developing a strategic orientation

    8. Trying to accomplish too much right away

    9. Responding immediately to all requests

    10. Failing to identify and enforce clear boundaries and priorities

    11. Neglecting to schedule regular time for reflection and strategic thinking

    12. Delegating ineffectively or not at all

    13. Not holding others accountable for lack of results

    14. Maintaining a rigid command and control structure in a dynamic environment that requires situational agility and the widespread sharing of information among all employees

© 2012 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.