Get Everyone On Board

Hilton Head's Engine 1 company using Truck 6 in training.

Hilton Head's Engine 1 company using Truck 6 in training.

There comes a point in every organization where evaluation must be made of the over-arching vision and determination made if that is the direction that is desired, or if not, does it need to be recalibrated.  While that recalibration is really incumbent on the legally controlling entity (city or county council, commissions, or boards), it is the issue of recalibrating the organizational culture that I wanted to discuss today.  Because regardless of your organization, you are going to have personnel who are resistant to change, and while the troops may or may not decide to go willingly, it is a requirement that your officers or supervisors are.  If your small unit leaders aren’t on board, don’t count on the personnel they supervise joining in to resist them.  It will be much easier on those troops if they can get along with their misdirected officer than if they embrace the change, so you can count on the message not getting through when it is most needed.

If you have officers who are unwilling to evolve, they must make a decision (as do you) as to whether their personal contribution (or lack thereof) to the mission is causing a bigger problem. People are going to disagree on issues for a number of different reasons.  They may disagree on how the overall vision is met.  But if both the supervisor and the subordinate can work to capitalize on their personal views and collaborate (or develop by consensus) on solutions that take us to that goal, then that is positive and constructive.  If you simply don’t agree as to the mission, or you can’t work with others to develop solutions, then maybe that’s your signal to start looking elsewhere.

There will also be those who just won’t let the past go.  That total distrust in authority can be chalked up to a lack of maturity.  It’s easy to hold on to fear, it’s hard to make that leap again and trust.  But for some, it’s a game.  It’s cool to be the rebel.  It’s easy to make fun of what you yourself are incapable of creating.  If you are rebelling for a just cause, that commendable.  If you are rebelling to make fun and to be “cool”, you’re a tool.

Vision must be shared to make it effective.  If you ask your team what their vision of team success is, if you get an answer other than what you desire, you have conflicting vision.  Teams all the time make assumptions that their individual visions are one.  That’s all fine on issues where concessions can be made, but if these decisions affect the core values of individuals, you will find irreconcilable differences.  If these issues become counter to your values, this is where the team will break apart or survive.  These are your true watershed moments.

It is important that vision is shared.  Otherwise, the desired result will not be what comes out.  You can have the most charismatic leader in the world out in front, but when you reach that waypoint where visions are divergent, there will be a strong oppositional pull.  Several things can happen: They will go one way or another, or they will split the team, or there will be such a struggle for control that we go nowhere, or the team will go off on a path no one wants, or people will pull together and reach for a common goal.  When those power struggles occur, these are the points where a leadership vacuum occurs.  Like it or not, when it does, something will fill that, sometimes to the detriment of the team’s overall goal.

If you are the legitimate leader and it really is your position to say, “THIS vision is your reality”, then you need to do so.  If others don’t (or won’t) share that vision, they need to get on board or get off.  You can’t deal with incompatible vision.  Conflict management and resolution is imperative.  You must either accept their way, convince them of your way, or accept a compromise- which may make everyone upset.

Each of these waypoints are periods to stop and evaluate our direction and reconfirm that we are doing what is important to us, as well as that this is the direction in which we want to go.  This provides people a place to jump off if they aren’t comfortable with the direction.

While not all of us can be inspiring, we can at least strive to be transformational.  We can know what qualities that entails, we can identify and point people toward those resources, we can listen and empower our people.  We can be open to others’ ideas, permit change when change is needed, and especially when others are strong in talent, encourage their strengths and passions to benefit the whole team.  When you can do this, it permits others to trust you.  When people have been burned so many times, you have to earn that trust and it won’t happen overnight.  You have to keep doing it and keep reinforcing it, even when it is frustrating.


  • Peter Lupkowski says:

    Often the problem with buying in or “sharing the vision” is the perceived clouds or haze obscuring the individual steps to the goal. The inability to recognize, digest, and understand the reason for these steps causes anxiety which breeds further division and question. No one is exactly sure what to do next so everything and every change is suspect.
    Yet in the collective mind hindsight is perfect 20/20 vision. The past is nearly a physical thing that can be held on to and reviewed in detail. All of it seen in perfect clarity that many want or need to see in their future.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe the easiest way to get everyone on board is to have clear and measurable goals that everyone can try on and subscribe to without surprises.
    Thanks for the “brain food.”

    • truck6alpha says:

      Excellent points. Thanks for bringing that up. Often the most successful individuals are those who can convey their vision in a means that not only can everyone understand, but can identify with. If you can develop a clear picture of where you want to go, sometimes that is the motivating factor in getting people to move in that direction. Really, how would you feel if someone were coaxing you to move forward in a smoke-filled room and you couldn’t feel the floor in front of you? It really requires a lot of trust.

      Thanks again, Peter, for commenting.

  • Fire Student says:

    Mick you could not have put this up at a better time. If you do not mind I would like to print and post this in my firehouse.

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