The title of my January 11, 2023 blog post was Why Don’t You Want to Become a…? In that post, I wrote about a conversation with a fire department captain, and I asked if he wanted to be a battalion chief. He responded by saying, “No. I have no interest in being a BC.”1
The captain explained why he wasn’t interested in pursuing the position and during our conversation he listed three issues related to battalion chiefs that I have heard more than one time as I have traveled across the country. They are:
- Failure to listen.
- An authoritarian approach using open or veiled threats.
- Technical and tactical incompetence.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will address each one of these complaints.
Number One: failure to listen.
I am constantly amazed at how many times I hear company officers and firefighters say, “My BC doesn’t listen to me.”
Why does this happen and what prevents battalion chiefs from listening to their subordinates? I believe three of the reasons are:
- Too busy and rushed to stop and listen to what others are saying. Take a breath and realize the importance of listening to your people. Listening builds connection and credibility.
- Not valuing the people who work for you. This is in spite of the fact that ad nauseum organizations say their people are the number one asset. Listening builds stronger relationships.
- Pride and haughtiness. Wearing collar brass and a gold badge is not a reason to create a caste system whereby the chiefs are too good to listen to the troops. That is nothing more than arrogance. We need to humble ourselves and listen to what is being said. Listening builds respect.
Remember, failing to listen is a failure to connect, and a failure to connect is a failure in communication.
Next week I will address the second complaint on the list: an authoritarian approach using open or veiled threats.
A solution to the problem
After spending fifteen years as a battalion chief, I have the command and leadership background, experience, and resources to provide meaningful and relevant training to equip you to become a battalion chief that is a respected leader.