My blog posts this month revolve around a conversation with a fire department captain who told me he had no interest in pursuing a promotion to battalion chief (BC). His reasons involved three issues related to BC’s. Not surprisingly, I have heard these reasons more than one time as I have traveled across the country. They are:
- Failure to listen.
- An authoritarian approach using veiled threats.
- Technical and tactical incompetence.
Last week I covered the first problem, a failure to listen. This week I am addressing the authoritarian approach using veiled threats.
When was the last time you heard someone say, “because I am the battalion chief!” (We can also insert other ranks and titles as well). Have you ever made that proclamation? If so, when was the last time you boldly and arrogantly ensured that everyone in the immediate area was aware of your rank? If you are that type of person, do you really believe that approach is effective?
The insecure shift commander
Prior to having battalion chiefs, my department had captains as the shift commanders. During the late 1990’s, I worked for a captain who repeatedly said to the shift and to me, “Because I am the captain…you know I am the captain…I said so because I am the captain.” After a year of his insecure egotism, I finally said, “No foolin’! I spent nine years in two branches of the military and I am well aware of the rank structure.” I went on to say, “If I had a buck for every time you beat your collar brass with that statement, I could take my wife out for a very expensive steak dinner.”
Did I respect this captain’s management practices (notice I did not use the word leadership)? Absolutely not! He exhibited one of the most prevalent clues to a lack of confidence and a lack of command presence: constantly telling everyone what his rank was.
Yes, I obeyed this individual, but it was not out of respect or admiration. I obeyed and followed only as a matter of compliance because of the authority bestowed in his rank. Fortunately for me, this man moved on to another position in the department, but that is an entirely different story.
What about you?
The million-dollar question is, are you like the person in this example? If so, what drives you to be like that? What is it about your character that makes you throw around your rank?
Rank-heavy BC’s have little to no respect. The troops grudgingly follow you out of sheer compliance and they cannot wait to move to another battalion, transfer to another shift, or they hope you accept a job in another fire department to become someone else’s pain in the rear end.
The secure battalion chief
The secure BC has strong character, is comfortable in their skin, and has command presence. All three of these qualities are absent with the insecure BC. The troops respect the secure BC, and they want to follow that BC.
Next week, I will address technical and tactical incompetence in BC’s. After that, I will continue this series with answers and solutions to the top three complaints about fire department battalion chiefs.
Overcoming the problem
After spending fifteen-years as a BC, 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.