Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

Through reading, reflection, and renewed engagement on the things which matter to me and my work in public safety, I have found time to explore new opportunities and consult with some very influential members of the fire service on how they dealt with conflict and kept on course despite distractions. I have been fortunate to attend some excellent classes at Harvard University, the first of which was on Promoting Racial Equity in the Workplace. One thing that has been impressed upon me again is that leadership is much like education, it is never complete. The more you learn about leadership the more you realize you have yet to learn. Leadership, much like education, is a lifelong learning process and should be a lifelong commitment to improvement. The practice of journaling I have found is a reflective tool which has proven valuable in the process of reviewing and evaluating the "why" of events and circumstances. I have found that my own leadership is strengthened when collaborating with others who share the same desire in building up the fire service as an equitable place which serves the community. I have learned my leadership is adaptive when it needs to be but uncompromising in principle. The impact I can have reaches outside my local community and service area on both a professional and a personal level, yet the most rewarding is on a personal level in the sharing of tactics, techniques, and practices in leadership and leadership development of new officers. Practices which help to sustain my leadership continue to be travel and interaction with others of diverse backgrounds and cultures. It is both rewarding and invigorating to hear from others facing similar challenges as they work to develop a better fire and emergency medical service. Taking a tactical pause from the day-to-day activities of work and checking out for a week or two is a purposeful way for me to sustain my leadership. I have found that continued sessions with my leadership coach and several other leaders in the public safety field have proven beneficial and very encouraging. Over the past few months, I have been contacted by numerous regional leaders and elected officials seeking information on how to improve their fire and emergency services. It is always a privilege to speak with people who are looking to make a difference in their community by improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and timeliness up their emergency service delivery model. Most recently I was able to participate in assisting a department in Illinois construct a strategic plan through my role as an associate consultant. Whether it is carried out in international roundtable discussions broadcast with colleagues from around the world on topics such as technology and leadership in the fire service or being utilized in a consulting role to help guide another agency in the decision-making process about the level and affordability of emergency services, it is rewarding to see a difference being made by my efforts. Those efforts are so much more productive when collaborators are utilized, and the community is engaged in developing and sharing a vision for public safety and ensuring the necessary resources are provided. I find it is very rewarding to discuss and formulate actionable plans to progress the level of service in the area. Teaching for the university has been rewarding as it has allowed me to work directly with students in their quest for knowledge whether it be a certification, a credential, or a formal educational path. Building capacity in others and watching them grow as they face and overcome obstacles is truly one of the most satisfying feelings whether it is university students or fire department members. These past few months have seen me engage in a purposeful effort to collaborate with supporters and allies in the pursuit of larger systemic changes needed in the Minnesota and the larger national fire service. I find a regimented reading schedule along with regular journaling to qualify and evaluate the prior day’s events and interactions are quite meaningful. I find that in reading journals and other articles in professional publications, some very common themes reoccur especially in fire and EMS service organizations. Successful organizations have leaders who are visible and clear in their purpose for the organization. I have learned that my leadership is adaptable per the situation, meaning that sometimes leadership is the exercise of restraint and doing nothing immediately but observing. Leadership is a characteristic best exemplified through actions rather than just lectured about or simply written about. The view of my potential impact continues to develop in the realm of possibilities for growth especially in venues outside of the traditional fire service. Building capacity in others brings with it a special sense of satisfaction as you can apply past lessons learned and help formulate strategies which assist them in facing similar challenges. I have learned that being challenged is one of the best things that can happen to you as a leader. An untested leader is an unproven leader. Rather than avoiding potential conflict when it comes to a clash in values for a leader, these experiences should be valued, learned from, and then the lessons learned applied for the next challenge. I have learned to be comfortable with challenges as a leader because this is the only way to further develop the leadership levels aspired to. It is reassuring when the motives of parties involved in a conflict can be examined with the resulting conclusion that your motives as a leader serve the greater good and are rooted in equality of representation rather than a self-serving, and parochial system which is the status quo. My impact will continue to evolve both in my emergency service organization and in my non-profit organizations where I serve on the board of directors as communication issues and value alignment of all members continue to need to be addressed. The practices I will continue to build upon are the frequent conversations with my leadership coach and his affiliate recommendations of personnel with whom to engage. These sessions, recommended reading, and a battery of testing instruments have been revealing and motivating at the same time. The continued journaling and reflection which is done on a regular basis has proven very effective for processing the “why” of events as well as indicating future effective strategies for dealing with challenging people and situations. Over the past few months, in conversations with my leadership coach, I have learned that my leadership is not just adaptable but resolute. It is said that patience is a virtue and I have had several opportunities to exercise careful patience while waiting for results. I have learned that my leadership grows when in the presence of others who share similar values and ethics. The view of my impact on an international scale was recently reinforced when I was asked to assist with a project in a developing country. One way to build sustainable leadership is to be an active listener. It is said that patience is a virtue and I have had several opportunities to exercise careful patience while waiting for results. I have learned that my leadership grows when in the presence of others who share similar values and ethics. I have contemplated the nexus of leadership and public value as it relates to a consolidated approach to emergency services. On the positive individual level this consolidation of services means a more rapid response when a fire or EMS resource is called. Reliability that a response will occur for fire and EMS emergencies is heightened. Increased compensation and benefits for front line fire and EMS providers follows. There is also a uniformity of expectations and the level of service to be provided. Safer working conditions for members in a consolidated district through standardized safety practices will also occur. On the positive social level there is a effectiveness of fire and emergency medical service delivery and an increase in the cardiac arrest survival rate. A thriving, healthy community due to community risk reduction techniques also follows with comprehensive approach. Increased opportunities for women and minorities to serve their communities are possible under a consolidated approach as is the uniformity of response regardless of geographical area with a standardization of quality care. A high potential for decreased workers compensation claims and cost of service through increased safety measures also are likely in a comprehensive model. The role of self-care was one I did not give much thought to before the Bush Foundation Fellowship, yet this opportunity and the constant reminders to reflect on this aspect has changed my focus. We have a saying in emergency services which says you can not help anyone else if you become part of the problem in an emergency scene, yet the same application can be made regarding self-care and the care of others. The importance of time for reflection and recharging oneself is so important to overall long-term sustainability. I am thankful for the Bush Foundation Fellowship and the reminders to do this through travel, rest, and reflection.