Lets talk succession training. It always seems to be a hot topic when a bunch of firefighters get together. There is either a lack thereof or something that they always want to see happen within their departments.
I see as there’s two types of succession training. There’s formal and informal. Formal is going to be at department programs, maybe some larger agencies might be common. Even smaller ones are starting to get it. You got to go through this program. It’s 40 hours, one day, two days. Sometimes it’s mandatory, sometimes you’re just there to learn. That’s the formal part. I think that’s what everyone wants is a formal part. What we don’t realize is we all have an informal succession training going on with all our departments. We don’t have a formal succession training in my agency. We’re working on that though. The informal is what we have right now and what lot of places do.
What’s the informal? Informal is you lead by example. If you’re the engineer it’s the firefighter’s seeing what you do. If you’re the captain, it’s the engineer watching what the captain does. It’s the captain watch what the BC does. The battalion chief watching what the division chief’s do, to the deputy chief to the fire chief. People may not like that as a training plan, but that is one that exists no matter where you are. It is what you’re leading by example with, your actions.
The other part of informal would be when it’s up to the individual to go out and get their own training. That can do well with self-motivated people, but you’re not going to get everyone. How do you seek it yourself? It could be books, learning from other people, getting an insight from some of the greatest minds out there and learning what they had. If you’re not out there obtaining the information than all you know is what either your parents taught you or a few officers that you had taught you.
Conferences, it’s another way. You get around a bunch of people and pick their brains on what’s the best practices. Maybe their agency had a formal program and there’s just someone there to share with you.
Something I came across, which I guess would be informal, is intent-based leadership, which is talked about it in the book “turn the ship around”. I use it in my firehouse. I really didn’t start realizing that it was actually succession training until recently. I had it occur before where I was using something called the ladder of leadership on it. There’s more explained in the book or in the class I did about it which can be found at brotherhoodcoaching.com. I had to work with an individual on his acting officer and I realized by following that template we already did a bunch of development that was required in his task book.
Recently I’m working with another guy. When I started looking at the book about everything you have to complete for signing him off I realized that, once again, a lot of that development we’ve already done. Maybe some of the paperwork and formal computer work we haven’t, but a lot of daily actions of putting on trainings, being a leader around the station is already in the works. That’s kind of why I want to do this about succession training is it’s a simple program that intent-based leadership and utilizing their ladder of leadership to guide you through it to where you can actually start the process to this way.
The guys hit the ground running. There’s not a lot of guess work to it. If you’re doing that every day then everyone’s evolving. While I don’t know how this works at a higher level where you’re not around your crew all the time. Let’s say coming from a deputy chief’s spot, I think it’s a work in progress. If any of you are in those positions and you start utilizing it, I think it’s a step in the right direction.
Once you get the ladder leadership all it is is using your words to get people to solve their own problems and make those decisions. What they’re doing is they’re coming to you, instead of coming to you saying, “Hey, this is the issue we got,” they’re going to say, “Hey, this is the issue we got. This is what I think we should do. This is what I want to do.” That keeps everything so there’s not one decision makers. You got everyone involved with that.
I wanted to share with you the formal-informal succession planning with intent-based leadership.