What we can learn from quotes
I have always been a person who liked to read leadership quotes. They provide insight into how some of the world’s greatest leaders think. Sometimes they are so simple you just have to say why didn’t I think of that, and others take a week of deep thought just to understand. Either way, there is something to learn from them.
Let’s start with Webster’s definition of leadership…
lead·er·ship noun \ˈlē-dər-ˌship\
: a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc.
That’s a pretty generic and simple sounding answer. If only it was that easy!
One quote that really hit home with me is very simple and I believe the author is unknown.
“Never forget where you came from.”
I always felt, it’s not just where you have come from, but also, what you have overcome. There may come a day when you are giving advice and mentoring a rookie who is in the same situation you once were in. This is an excellent chance for you to have a positive impact on someone and their career.
Here are more of my favorite quotes…
“You manage things; you lead people.” - Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” - Brian Tracy
“Don’t Give Up. Don’t ever give up.” - Jimmy Valvano
“He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk.” - Unknown
“Being in power is a lot like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, then you aren’t.” - Margaret Thatcher
“A leader sees greatness in other people. You can’t be much of a leader if all you see is yourself.” - Maya Angelou. My awesome sister-in-law gave this one to me on the day of Maya Angelou’s passing, thank you Sharon.
There is so much more to being a leader in today’s ever-changing fire service than being that person at the top. You have every day hurdles such as finances, equipment, and staffing, as well as many other things that must be dealt with in order to survive in today’s world. The fire service is more diverse now than at any other point in history and it requires a special person to be an effective leader.
I have often heard that “unless you are the lead dog the view never changes” but I don’t think you need to be the person with the “five toilet plungers” on your badge to be a leader. Anyone, of any rank, can be a leader, and make a difference. I think if you want to make a difference in life, or in the fire service for that matter, don’t let anyone stop you. I have seen many firefighters, company officers, and chief officers take on leadership roles at different levels and all have had a major positive impact in the fire service.
One common leadership debate is that “great leaders are born and not made”, I, for one, agree with that logic. There are certain traits you must have to be a great leader and I don’t think they can be taught. It must be in you. Becoming a great leader can only be enhanced by learning from life’s lessons. Store them for later use and use them quite often.
I want to close with a quote from Tom Peters…
“Great leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”
Stay safe and remember everyone goes home.
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Dave Mottor began his fire service journey in 1983 as a member of the Bondsville Fire Department. In 1984 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Fire Protection Specialist. After basic firefighting school he was assigned to the 21st Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Protection Flight in Anchorage Alaska where he remained until March of 1988. Dave returned to Western Mass and the Bondsville Fire Department until 1990 when he moved to Easthampton. He was hired as a civilian firefighter at Westover ARB in March of 1988 and remained there until March 1994. In June of 1990 he returned to the military as a member of the 439th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Protection Flight until retirement in 2009 at the rank of E-9, as the military fire chief at Westover. During his reserve career he had many deployments with the highlight being deploying to Kuwait following the terrorist attacks in 2001. Dave served as the Deputy Fire Chief overseeing 2 fire stations and 33 firefighters. Chief Mottor joined the Easthampton Fire Department in 1990 as a call firefighter and was appointed full time in 1994. He was appointed fire chief in 2009. Dave is a member of the Board of Directors for the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts as well as the current Vice President of the Hampshire County Fire Defense Association.
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