Fostering Potential As A Leadership Skill For a New Officer In The Fire Service

After going through a firefighter promotion you will likely be assigned to work with and lead a group or team of people you may have never met before. One of the most beneficial skills you can bring with you to your new team is the ability to discover and foster their potential. So let’s explore this opportunity! 

Fostering Leadership Potential 

When you become a new company officer it is critical that you can identify and help foster the human potential of those around you because you are only as good as those you lead. This means supporting others to learn and grow by identifying their strengths and goals. For some new leaders looking to make an impression this can be challenging. You want to prove you can do it all, but a good leader doesn’t need to prove anything. They focus on helping those they are leading grow, not themselves. If you want a good crew, help them foster their own potential as follows. 

How To Foster Potential 

  1. Identify Goals

As a new leader the first thing you need to do if you want to help foster the potential of those you supervise is to get to know them. You need to find out their goals, some may not even be aware of their own personal and career goals yet but you can help them identify them. Helping someone discover their goals is great for their own personal motivation but also their work performance. If someone is just coming to work at the fire station every day just to make a paycheck they likely aren’t giving it their all. However, if you help them realize they want more than just a paycheck and want to promote themselves, they work even harder than before and improve their attitude and that is quite beneficial to everyone. 

  1. Energize & Empower

The key to helping those you lead grow and discover their goals and try to reach their full potential is to energize them and also empower them. Have you ever had an idea and told someone who thought it was amazing and was so excited for you, I bet you felt so much more excited and confident yourself after talking to them. If you support someone in their goals it can make all the difference in someone actually going after them. In addition you need to empower them. Give them opportunities to help them reach those goals, challenge them with new tasks and duties. If you truly want to help your people reach their potential, help them get in a position to do so. You likely know more people and have more influence than they do. Set them up with connections, training, and opportunities they may have not been able to obtain otherwise without your help. There is no better way to truly support someone and make them feel valued than to give them the resources they otherwise would not have. 

  1. Provide Learning Opportunities

You must provide your crew members with opportunities to learn and grow. You can’t expect them to do it on their own. If you truly want your crew members to be all they can be you need to give them the opportunity to do just that. These opportunities do not need to be huge events either. They can be discussions about new technologies available, talks about what is going on in your community, and so on. While formal training will also be necessary, making every day an opportunity to learn and grow not only their skills in fire fighting but in other things like emotional intelligence, leadership, and communication will be wildly beneficial.

  1. Give Them Autonomy

Another way to help your crew reach their full potential while simultaneously strengthening your relationship with them, is to give them workplace autonomy. Many things done in the fire house are done as a team but it is important to find the individual in each crew member as well. Stop micromanaging when you assign tasks and let your crew just be. Let them do it in a way they see as best even if it is not the way you would do it. If they aren’t asking for help, don't give it to them. Allowing them to feel like they have some control and autonomy will make them appreciate and enjoy the work so much more, and they'll probably like you a lot more for it. 

The Takeaway

If you are a true leader, you want those around you to reach their full potential. You want them to have opportunities to grow and learn. You want them to do their absolute best. In the end a good leader is appreciated and valued by their underlings because they support them and help them reach their individual goals and achieve their full potential.