#leadership #communication #teamleadership #lessonsfromafirechief
Jamie Coutts, Host of Podcast, Growing Up Fire and one of the stars of Discovery Channel's Hellfire Hero's shares lessons from being a new Fire Chief during one of Canada's largest disasters the 2011 Slave Lake Fires which swept through the community destroying almost everything in it's path. Now retired, Jamie shares his experience leading many teams over his 28 years in the fire service. Jamie discusses with me the different types of stress that you encounter in leading teams during crisis, things you think of and things you don't that you should. Jamie discusses the critical leadership tactics when you really have to think outside the box, and recognize nothing you learned in the books will help you at the moment in time. Step back, evaluate the situation and make a plan of action to protect the lives and safety of the people in the community and your team.
Since retirement from the fire service, Jamie works in private industry and continues to lead but in a different way. In this interview he reflects on leading teams during unprecedented times and offers the tried and tested methods he used while leading the Slave Lake firefighters (volunteer and paid) during a fire that destroyed most of the Town. One of the most important decisions he made and still stands by today, was recognizing the human side of leadership and that he is leading people first, and the human side of crisis can be worse than the actual event. The fire fighters he was leading were not only fighting to save the town, but also dealing with loss of their homes, distraught and scared family members and emotions were running high. As a leader he had to give permission to the team to take care of themselves and their family despite the numerous fires burning around them. Those things still hold true today, regardless of the situation, you need to recognize the people, the stress they are not saying and adapt your plan.
Jamie provides insights on prioritizing tasks and supporting teams while working remotely and how he would monitor for continued high performance. In crisis and unfamiliar situations humans have a tendency to say no first; Jamie says we need to start with yes and then figure out the how later, the how does not need to be perfect we just need to do something. This philosophy holds true in our current environment, if we were to ask business owners and corporations about having all of their staff working from home prior to 2020 it would have been a resounding no, yet for the most part we've done it, has it been perfect, no, but we continue to refine and move forward each time we are thrown a curve ball.
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