Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation

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Mr. Hugh O’Callaghan

My leadership philosophy has developed into a leader, leader type of thinking. I used to be of the mindset that firefighters should follow their officers and when the time came, promote into the Lieutenant rank and start leading. With this old school thought process I learned that firefighters would come to me and ask for permission to do small tasks and in many cases they were afraid to just make a small decision on their own.

When I was two years into the rank of Lieutenant I sat my firefighters down and told them we are going to make some slight changes. I informed them that they would no longer need to ask me for permission to do small tasks. I would back their decisions fully as long as they were not against the law and did not violate department policy. I told them that if they were not sure how far they could go with their decision making, they were to check with the senior firefighter first before asking me.

This new way of doing business for my group freed up time for me to complete projects and allowed for the development of soon to be great fire officers. Firefighters were forced to learn the departments SOPs to make sure they were not in violation and it gave the senior firefighter a sense of what it was like to lead people. What I observed was a new feeling of belonging. I showed the firefighters that I trusted them and they appreciated the chance to help guide the department into the future. I am now several years into my plan and it has generated three Lieutenants, one Captain and several very strong senior firefighters.