Firefighter Leadership –  The Leader’s Mind – First in our series of 12 Leadership Training Articles for Firefighters

Leaders in any field don’t necessarily see themselves as a leader.  If you serve in any capacity of leadership in the Fire Department, you must see yourself with a Leader’s Mind. It may feel odd. You may not think you are ready. You may cringe thinking you are a “fake.” You are not sure of what you are doing, or how to do it, but responsible for doing it regardless.

At Royal Roads University, I feared being “found out.” I was doing my Master’s Degree in Leadership and Training. I thought, “who am I to be here with these esteemed classmates”? After all, once I finished high school, my path didn’t take me to university, or college for that matter.  I proudly became a police cadet.

That feeling of pretense refers to The Impostor Syndrome.  It describes individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments.  They experience the persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’

I couldn’t shake the feeling at Royal Roads until one day my professor, Jim Force, told me how the world experiences me.

He told me that I am an accomplished champion because everything I do is built on the philosophy of helping others to succeed. Since that exact moment, I have never doubted who I am.


How does the world experience you?

Outstanding Firefighter Leaders understand and believe the value they bring to their colleagues, customers, and clients (internal & external). They recognize how other’s lives improve as a result.

There are other “tells” of a leader’s mind in Firefighter Leadership. 

Leaders Mind

“Tells” of a Great Leader’s Mind

Here are a few to consider:

Expect setbacks. Rarely do things go as expected, planned, or hoped. So a leader looks for new ways to solve problems or overcome challenges. It is all a part of that journey.

Allow setbacks to be the key to unlock massive potential.

Believe everyone wants to be their best. Truly appreciating people for what they are trying to accomplish, rather than what they’ve already accomplished, inspires the very best from people.

Seek differing opinions and perspectives. Many of us choose friends based on similar interests and viewpoints. There is much to be gained by encouraging and seeking out ideas from people who challenge our thinking.

Strive to Help Others Become Leaders

Enjoy removing hurdles. In Firefighter leadership, the leader’s mind is continually looking for barriers and obstacles to remove, so their teams can focus on the real goals.  Leadership is not about looking at how to build your profile. Leadership is about creating leaders at all levels of the organization. Take note of those people right in front of you.

Care about people outside of their work. Leaders don’t separate their work life from home life. Firefighter Leadership cares about their team outside of work.  Let people know that you care about each person’s overall wellbeing. Communicate through words and actions that you are investing in them for the long term.  These people do matter. Be sure they know you feel that way.

Understand the goal is to help others succeed.  The most critical role that a leader plays is his or her ability to inspire and energize the team.

Understand the power of appreciation: A great leader knows the impact appreciation has on their ability to influence and lead. Practice every day. David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands said, “Recognition has the power to transform leaders into great leaders – It can transform an entire culture.”


“Always give without remembering. Always receive without forgetting.”   William Beardsley