Leadership styles in modern fire and rescue service
Leadership styles are the different approaches that leaders use to ensure that they are in control of the workforce and the workplace. They also relate to the decision making behavior of the leader. There are many leadership styles and thus we put emphasis on the most common ones:
- a) Autocratic leadership is whereby the leader dictates the obligations and duties which are followed without suggestions from the workforce.
- b) Bureaucratic is whereby the leadership adhere strictly to the written rules and regulations without deviation.
- c) Charismatic leadership is where the top positions inspire and motivate the lower levels and success of the organization relies on the presence of the motivator.
- d) Democratic or participative leadership though is slow since it relies on feedback from the workforce; it motivates workers by making them feel determiners of their own performance.
- e) Laissez-faire is whereby the leadership allows the skilled and experienced labor force to drive themselves through decisions and also implementations while the leadership only monitors and analyzes performance.
- f) People/relations-oriented; in this case the leaders are focused in the group. The leaders develop a workforce and then arm it with skills and space to perform optimally.
- g) Servant leadership where the leader has little recognition among the staff.
- h) Task oriented leadership where the focus shifts to having the tasks completed according to schedule. There is less concern about employees other than attending to their duties.
- i) Transactional leadership where the workforce promises loyalty and compliance with the management. Those whose standards do not meet the set levels are put under disciplinary action, motivation may be done through rewards.
- h) Transformational leadership which is the widely used style where the leadership has integrity.
Leads by example, sets clear goals which have to be met and speaks out through a vision
and mission. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_84.htm
In the modern fire and rescue workforce, the leadership first applies the conventional transformational leadership while also applying combinations of the remaining styles like bureaucratic and task oriented leadership.
According to the industrial relations directive, the workforce ought to be heard or listened to. They should have a representative where they can forward their concerns through. In fire and rescue operations, communication is paramount between those engaging in the ground and the leaders. It must first of all be task oriented before any other transformations are done. It must also adhere to set rules and guide lines to avoid common mistakes or avoidable accidents to the staff during service.
Sustaining workforce morale
There many ways of sustain workforce morale where the first one which pops up is using financial incentives. As in the case for fire the management could pay for the risks they incur while attending to their duties or better retirement and insurance benefits. Others include:
- a) Recognition, attention and applause applies whenever the team has accomplished a task successfully the leadership have to applaud the group and in the case for fire and rescue their devotional service and good performance are to be recognized. According to the framework of the team “industrial relations”, the workforce ought to be heard.
- b) Training and development shows the workforce that the leadership care about career path development. Apart from experience training is the other way to add value to an employee’s skill. In the case for fire and rescue there is training in related courses while the development means improving the working conditions of the workforce which may include better equipments and other modifications.
- c) One-on-one coaching is whereby the management focuses to polish the skills and understanding of individual workers. In the fire and rescue case, there is management of individual performance. This sometimes may be mistaken for close supervision which usually employees dislike. The management has to elaborate the usefulness of the process even if they use IPDS standards where a worker’s performance is assessed using objectives of the role maps, National Occupational standards and Personal Qualities and Attributes.
- e) Career path can be used to motivate the workforce to stay with the organization/department. According to the fire and rescue team, there is a clear IPDS standard that authorities must adhere to and consider for employees progression.
- f) Equality and diversity has been applied by Fire and Rescue in that the minority groups are to be considered for the new entrants such that the percentage in the workforce be similar as the demographic one by 2013. Female percentages also reach a minimum of 15%. But in workforce motivation, treating all workers equally is what creates the motivation when none is favored.
- h) Leadership as in the case for Fire and Rescue, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee saw the need to strengthen leadership at all levels of the department. This helps to eliminate the servant leadership where only the leaders at the peak are recognized. Workers may feel the same way as their immediate leader who may feel alienated from leadership. Workers will feel the same attention that their immediate boss comes with from above.
Other techniques that the department may apply are stress management services, job titles, team spirit, on-the-spot praise and time offs. http://www.biztrain.com/motivation/stories/20ways.htm
A life span of three years
A National Fire and Rescue document has a life span of 3 years so that:
- a) Goes hand in hand with the Comprehensive Spending Review period
- b) The two years are used for implementation and the last for making modifications to make the system better functionally
The government has first set aside a budget to support the implementation of the Fire and Rescue services which in the three years is to find out if the amount and the policies can work out. As announced in October 2007 by the Chancellor, the amount set aside for local governments is used for a period of three years. The local government distributes the amount to the authorities under its governance. In the first two years the team must use the set guidelines and budget constraint. If the group does not make in the first and second years the third year is used to make alterations and carry them out.
Engaging the community when implementing change
According to the national framework document is that there is little appreciation for the improvement made by Fire and Rescue may be because the team did not listen to the locals to determine areas of modification. One importance of participatory change is that the people are ready to adopt and own the change. Another is the cost of introducing the change is reduced as there is little resistance and possibility of volunteers/partnerships. The system becomes sustainably reliant on the community; when the community exists it also shall exists if they are for it.
As in the case for Fire and Rescue any improvement made by governance has also to involve the local mind set. That brings out the need for regional management boards (RMBs) that are the close analysts of what their regions require. The RMBs are involved in regional recruitment and training activities (regional HR) and procurement strategies. They are supposed to come up with a regional approach to training.
Local Area Agreements (LAA) which may engage in partnerships with the Fire and Rescue time in their area for effectiveness and efficiency. The Local authorities consult with the Local Strategic Partnerships on an action plan LAA which strives to identify areas of improvement and agreeing on priorities for the region. The Fire and Rescue are the ones to decide the level they may permit involvement of LAA.
Community engagement and involvement is the active role the Fire and Rescue encourages the community to play in maintaining safety practices either in fire prevention or during rescue services. Fire and Rescue on the other must demonstrate that they are making the recommended changes to reflect the needs and views of the communities.
Local partners and LSP partners have been given the hand to determine continuous improvement of service delivery and to seek opportunities for improvement.
Tackling employee resistance to change
Employees may resist change because they are comfortable with the existing working conditions and thus they are afraid of uncertainties. They may have known about the changes during the execution of the changes. There has been a long standing perception of mistrust between the management and the employees. The idea might have been introduced at the wrong time despite being a good idea. Employees feel a need to retain status or particular positions in the workplace or if change, then to be reviewed upwards. Employees may also influence one another to rebel against the management if they feel the new changes will increase pressure on them or when they cannot see the benefits of that change. http://www.managingchange.biz/manage_change_resistance.html
One way is to involve some of the workers in the planning of the change so that perception of manipulation and distrust can be overcome. Publicly recognize the employees whose ideas have been incorporated in the changes. Listening to responses that come as a result of the proposed changes to determine which are the correct answers or if there is need for enlightenment on the changes. The management can focus more on the positive aspect of the change and clearly outline the need for the change (Gary D &J Philips 2008). Carry out a test run to establish the suitability of the changes. Setting realistic time frames for the adoption of the changes, this is after consultations with the various units or departments. Motivating the staff during such times of change helps to reduce fear and distrust if done cautiously. Another way could be to introduce change gradually or start early giving training and even test runs for the changes (Debra L. & J. Campbell 2008)
- Leadership styles, using the right one for the right situation http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_84.htm retrieved 14th May 2011
- 20ways to motivate your without raising their pay http://www.biztrain.com/motivation/stories/20ways.htm retrieved 14th May 2011
- Managing resistance to change http://www.managingchange.biz/manage_change_resistance.html retrieved 15th May 2011
4.Debra L & J Campbell 2008, Understanding Organizational behaviour 3rd edition Thomson South western pg 421
- Gary D & J Philips 2008, Managing Now, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston pg 315