Leadership That Matters, Part 20

In celebration of the 20th installment of this series, Firehouse Zen presents to you a little message from the Dalai Lama. If I could really get the Dalai Lama to comment on here, that would be pretty impressive, but alas, I only have a six month old quote from the Buddhist Channel that I found to be highly appropriate.  You see, the Dalai Lama himself, in regard to the many problems facing society right now, called on people to be "responsible human beings…and to think more of the entire world they live in, rather than caring about their own narrow interests alone, as a way out" of these crises.

His comments were directed at the participants of the Copenhagen summit on climate change, where "some of the participant countries expressed that their own interests were more important" than interests of the whole world.  "Avarice and short-sightedness are to blame", he said, adding that people were guided by emotion and did not think of the long-term consequences.  Now if that isn't an indictment on the views of our current mindset when it comes to leading, I don't know what is.


You see, I hear all the time about leaders who say that representing the needs of management is the most important facet of their job.  And I see and hear of those who think representing their personnel would be the most important facet of their job.  What really should be the most important part of our jobs as leaders is to focus on who we really should be representing, and in the case of emergency services, it should be the public.


We can't, as leaders, avoid believing that our own ideas are the best for solving the wrongs we are faced with.  We became leaders, after all, because of our expertise, our vision, and our ability to channel the respect people have for us into forward motion.  However, when faced with any challenges, the first place we should be looking when it comes to change should be in our own hearts.  I am guilty of it myself, but we have to consciously understand that introspection is an important element of leading that even the best fail to do sometimes.


We have to seriously challenge our own beliefs and perspectives when faced with the big decisions because we all develop biases over time and it is easier to assume we always have the answer, especially when we have always HAD the answer.  This little short-cut, however, causes us to leave out the views of others and the other possible solutions to problems and causes our ideas, sometimes, to become stale or inadequate.  We should always seek to understand all sides of each situation and decide when we have all the pertinent facts, not just when we think we have them all.

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