Robyn’s Guide to Leadership Suggestions from the Back Seat:
I’m a full time firefighter for the City of San Diego. And I have been for 19 years. In those 19 years, I’ve had an annual evaluation each and every year. But I have yet to be asked what I think about my Captain and his/her leadership performance. As someone who spent the first 10 years of my professional life in field sales for Fortune 1000 hospital supply and pharmaceutical companies, I had become accustomed to the “360-degree feedback” loop, in which both leaders and their team give well-intentioned feedback to make one another better at what they do, and to draw attention to leadership styles or actions that may not be working for the team members. It keeps everyone in check and accountable to one another in a (hopefully) positive way.
But in the fire service… not so much. The person with the captain’s badge makes the rules, and everyone else… well, we shut up and follow them. That’s the culture. So I’ve created a short list of a few “Leadership Suggestions” that we “back seaters” (the lowly firefighters and paramedics in the back seat of the fire engine, aka the folks that clean your toilets) have been talking about in whispered bathroom meetings, quiet hallways, and more recently in emoji laden cross cab text volleys. And we hope that any manager who also wants to ultimately be a World Class Leader in their industry or business will hear our quiet unspoken pleas. Please. Sir or Ma’am.
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