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Home>Topics>>FDIC 2012: Steve Kraft Keynote

FDIC 2012: Steve Kraft Keynote

Thu, 19 Apr 2012|

Chief Steve Kraft, Richmond Hill Fire & Emergency Services of Ontario, Canada, talks about staying positive during the FDIC 2012 Opening Ceremonies.



This morning it's my pleasure to introduce Steve -- as our keynote speaker today. I first met Steve many years ago at the Ontario fire college and I instantly found a friend. Steve's been an ardent supporter of firefighter safety and a great student -- -- Steve is also our first. Canadian keynote eight. I was hoping to be some Olson's backstage. We tell a little bit about my good friend Steve Kraft Steve is a 24 year veteran of the Richmond hills fire and emergency services and Ontario Canada. He has completed certificate fire service leadership. He's a graduate of the protection technologies course in the interior of our college and he is completing his diploma in public administration. From western university. He's an associate instructor at Ontario for college he has been published and fire engineering and is -- -- FDIC. For the last four years. Ladies and gentlemen. Please help me in welcoming our 2012. FDIC keynote speaker Steve Kraft. Let me -- start by thanking the editor in chief. And retired fire chief Bobby Alton -- kind words. Let me also say thank you to you FDIC. For giving me this tremendous opportunity. To share a few words about leadership. I am truly humbled. Honored. And excited to be standing on this stage. Where so many great leaders have previously -- I need to ask a favor of every 1 this morning. During my talk. I need you to listen with the intent. To look in the mirror in self reflect. You see it's -- too easy to listen to what I'm a bit to see this morning and think to yourself. Wow. Make sense. If only might she was here or -- like captain was here to hear these words. He could really benefit. From these words. Let's -- Happens to many of us during speeches like this we don't think of ourselves as needing help we're learning what we always think of someone else. As -- go through my speech this morning I -- you ask yourself. What can I change. How can I become a better leader. How can I make my department -- You need to understand that -- leaders point fingers at other people. And blame them for the lack of leadership or direction. In your department's. But the great leaders. They take personal responsibility because they understand that they -- just a few small changes. They can make a huge difference to the behaviors. In the attitudes. Of the firefighters in your department. Have a question for you. Who can remember. The call. What -- referring to is the call we all received little we were offered. A fire fighting job. Remember that call. Who can forget. I remember sitting downstairs and my parents family room watching TV. The phone rang. I answered it and it was him. The deputy chief of Richmond Hill fire and emergency services. I remember that phone call like it was yesterday. And I bet you do too. Do you think people can remember the -- called they received when ABC cleaners called and ask them they're still interested in the job. That's not meant to bring any disrespect to ABC cleaners -- I'm -- working for them is that good job. But it's not the job. Of a firefighter. We all dreamed about becoming a firefighter and we all -- that dream. Whether it's full time part time. Or is a volunteer. We have a job all week on the job that we'd -- Or at least we used to -- which very few people in this world can today. My question to you is. Do you still love being a firefight. Do you still love the job as much as you did the very first. -- -- -- -- -- And ask yourself what that young. Enthusiastic. Energetic fire fighter that you once -- Be proud. Of -- you've become today. I'm thinking some of you will honestly answer yes and quite frankly I bet many of us in this room -- say yes. That's why we're here. What where all the other people. I realize not everybody can be here because we need firefighters to respond to emergencies. And we need firefighters to be at home with family. And unfortunately. -- -- -- homesick. Like where is everyone else. Why aren't they here. What do you think their excuses are for not attending FDIC. It's too expensive. My department won't send me. I don't have time. Really I don't have time. So when we get back home after spending a week get FDIC. We won't have things to catch up on. We won't have paperwork -- waiting for us. Training to make up. Grass -- cod or in my case may be snow to shovel. You mean -- tell me nobody in this room had to make sacrifices. To be here. GAAP. That's what I thought there are lots of firefighters in attendance today. Make sacrifices. -- -- many firefighters in this room paid their own way to be here. I bet many of you were going to miss a significant event. Just so you could make yourself -- Soul why -- you different. I'll tell you because you get it. How did you have heard chiefs John -- to say now that you've got the job. Get into the job. We top you guys are into the job you are leaders and leaders find a way to get things done. Leaders don't make excuses. And they don't blame other people they just make things happen. Thank you for making things happen. There -- leaders making things happen from all over North America attending FDIC this year. I know that because when I walked through the hallways on Monday and Tuesday. -- T shirts representing thousands of different fire departments. But you know watt. We're all experiencing. Similar issues. I guarantee. I can gather up one firefighter. From each department represented here today. And we can all sit in the huge auditorium. And the only thing that will be different. The patches on our shoulders. Sure some of us may perform different disciplines like tactical rope rescue were confined space but when it comes right down to it. We're all experiencing similar people issues. We all of fire fighters -- have been on the job for eighteen months. But talk like they've been there for twenty years. We all -- players that can't talk for more than thirty seconds within trashing the department or an individual firefighter. A brother or sister and my dad. We all of firefighters that have been on the job for 25 years but they only have one year of experience. Because they really haven't learned anything new since their first -- in the recruit class. And we all have firefighters that if they haven't heard a rumor by 9 o'clock in the morning what do they do. They start one that's right we work for the same department. But the question is why. Why did some of our firefighters becomes sole negative when we all know this is the best damn job in the world. And we know what's the best job in the world because hardly anybody quits. In many of us worked beyond. Our retirement date. Here's what I think. I think we all of a few officers that don't understand or don't appreciate. The influence they have on their people in their department. They don't understand how their lack of positive leadership. Is hurting their department. In the fire service in general. Now I wanna make one thing very very clear. When I say officers I'm talking about -- -- all the way up to the fire she. All of these officers have influence over. Firefighters. -- Once again I ask yourself. As a leader. Are you hurting. Or helping your people. Are you mold of beating. Or do you -- -- your people. Are you inspiring. Or encouraging -- people. When a firefighter -- your screen saver. Do you see the pension countdown clock that shows you only have eight months twenty -- gays and 34 seconds until you retire. -- out very motivating. There. You guys have seen that obviously. So why why I believe the lack of leadership by some of our officers is to blame for the negative attitude to the fire service today. Here's why. I have never seen the new recruit -- through the economy. With a poor attitudes. All the recruits act just like we did when we reported for our first day of training. They are energetic. Excited to be at work and get very polite. They don't talk negatively about the department or any individual firefighter. They Wear their uniform with pride in the address officers. By their proper range. Now this refreshing attitude last for the entire academy. The academy concludes an -- to recruit fire fighter gets assigned to a company. Each company is led by a company officer who becomes what -- recruits mentor. -- I don't know where this is going. Summer -- firefighters flourish yet others think faster than that night. Why why does this happen. It happens because we all have -- officers. And we all up -- officers. Unfortunately. One up horror and negative officer. Minter is a recruit firefighter. It doesn't take long before that young impressionable. Fire fighter get sucked into the vortex of that officers negative. In destructive attitude. Needless to say we don't need -- spend any time on the -- officers. Keep doing what you're doing in the -- -- -- -- service thanks. What we do need to help the officers that are hurting the fire service. I don't know about you but I will not lit negative officers. Officers that don't care about this great profession in officers that continually back. -- -- and gossip about our departments and -- people destroyed the absolute best perfection in the world. As officers we've all been given an incredible opportunity to leave. We must never ever disrespect that opportunity. Soul how do you become a grade officer. First you need to -- to be a great officer. Let me ask you this raise your -- If you want to be a great officer. If you didn't raise your hand. My advice is don't ever become an officer and if you're -- officer now goal hole and handing your back. If you can't commit to being the absolute best. Don't be an officer. Robin Sharma said the enemy of the best. Is too good. While good doesn't cut. Great officers commit to being the best. Now if you're committed to being the best but you've been in -- right. And you need help -- -- my friend she -- Buchanan said sometimes our compass. Is out of calibration and it needs to be re calibrated. Good for you for recognizing this. Let's get started. I wanna share five very important points that I believe what help you -- com a great officer. To be a great officer. You must be a great coach. To be a great coach you need to encourage. And motivate your firefighters. You have to be there to show -- firefighters would good performance looks like. And you have to monitor your firefighters every single day. In fact. What you expect. When you see a mistake a great coach corrects it she doesn't ignore it. And almost every class I teach I make this statement. If you don't correct people when they do something wrong. -- don't be surprised when they do it again. If you didn't tell them what they did was wrong. And you don't even realize that they made a mistake. As a culture help your people grow pointing out mistakes. And helping your firefighters be the absolute best. Should never be viewed as a negative. It's being a great leader. You're helping your people succeed. Always remember encouragement. Is a necessary part of being a great leader. Point number two all great leaders show they -- people they care. John C Maxwell said. People don't care how much you know. Until they know how much you care. Great leaders care about it -- people. I -- this one the hard way. I like to think that I care about our firefighters because deep inside I know why truly do. Richmond Hill has the best fire fighters in the world and I would expect all of you to think the same way about your firefighters. However I've realized that. Don't always show them how much I care and one day that was painfully obvious and I want to -- this -- A few years ago one of our firefighters was opt for a couple years without health problem. When the firefighter returned to work I probably went to see -- and welcome him back to show how much I care. I was feeling great about what I was about to do you -- being -- firefighter would really appreciate me coming to see him. Boy. Was -- wrong. After a little bit small talk I shook the firefighters hand I welcomed him back. I told how much we appreciated him. And how much we miss them. And he made a profound statement that I will never ever forget. He said deputy I was deputy chief at the time he said I have to tell you mom really disappoint. He said we work together for many years when you were my captain and I always respected you. During my two years off I wondered why you never called me at home yet to see how I was doing. He looked at me straight in the eyes. He said deputy. Why didn't call me. While. I didn't see that -- coming. I didn't know what to say the other then I'm sorry. This that was caught up in my own little world in shame on me this was a lesson I'll never forget about caring for your people. I'm here to remind me and you take great leaders here for their people. That caring for your people -- -- on seeing them at work. Take a personal interest in -- light can definitely be there when they need you bulbs. Point number three. Great leaders learn. From their mistakes. Never be machine to -- in the state. As a matter of fact I believe we should be making mistakes every single day. Because that means we're trying new things were making things happen. It's been sad if you've never fail. You never lived. Of course I'm not suggesting we should be making the same mistakes over and over but it it trying new things you're trying to grow as a leader. And you're engaged in -- -- apartment. You're going to make mistakes. Leadership requires the willingness to fail you can get knocked down but the great leaders get back -- Michael Jordan got back top. Did you know he was cut from its high school basketball team. Walt Disney got back up to after he was fired from a newspaper. Because he lacked imagination. And had no original ideas. And -- While would have happened had these two individuals never got. I'm sure you've gotten back up to after being knocked down. Think about how many times you've got knocked down when you first learned how to ride a bicycle. Most of us didn't get it the first time we made mistakes. And we definitely felt that. It hurt. But we got back up and we try again. Eventually we learn how to write that might. We didn't accept defeat and we certainly didn't blame someone else for our failures or our mistakes. We took responsibility. And we moved on. That's what being a great leader -- -- It's about making mistakes taking responsibility for them and then getting back up -- -- again. John -- said a man can fail many times. But he isn't a failure until it begins to blame someone else. Point number four great leaders lead. By example. Yeah Comcast. FDIC. 2012. That was in the pocket would listen to somebody talk about lead by example. If you do any old that great leaders lead by example. You'd probably shouldn't be an officer. But what does lead by example really mean. My view is every one -- but that's one of the problems were confronted with an. It's great when you -- officers that are demonstrating strong leadership. Talking about the good things that are going on in your department. Teaching young firefighters had to be great firefighters. Following policies and procedures. Attending training sessions and doing all the right things. But what about the officers. That are negative. What about the officers that go out of there waiting to consciously destroy. Your fire department. You know the right there. Let me ask this. Are they leading by example. Sure they are because every one leaves. Strongly -- lead in a positive way but it's been my experience that. Negative leaders can be louder. Even more forceful. This is what we need to stop me. We cannot let the negative leaders destroy the fire service we need to stand up and tell them to stop. We cannot let these negative people destroyed this great profession that took hundreds of years to create. We have an obligation as leaders we have an obligation. To respect the past. What I'm referring to is all the retired firefighters and officers. That have done great things for the fire service over the last hundred years 200 years. Retired officers like cheap last -- -- -- cheaper and have seen me. -- -- -- Cheap -- Chief Norman just to name a few. We have an obligation to -- the past and we can do that by ensuring the fire service. Continues to be the greatest profession in the world. And the only way that's going to happen is -- the current and future leaders understand their roles and responsibilities. They need to understand they have significant influence over everyone they talk to you in because of this. Great leaders know how to inspire. Motivate. In encouraged their people. They get. Bear in -- the job. Finally point number five great leaders have the right attitude. If you want to be a great leader you must have a positive attitude. I'm telling you now nobody wants to be associated. With someone that always sees the negative side of things. Great leaders see the jar -- hole not half -- Great leaders have the right attitude. And they used their attitude to influence their people think get things done. They don't complain about the cheap. C ship or the newest procedure unless they are prepared to talk to the right people. Great leaders understand that you never complained to people below -- For example a great captain will never complain about anything -- a firefighter. Because they recognize that they complain to someone that can't help them solve their problem. It's just gossip. The gossip is one of the largest issues that contributes to the communications problems that I know we're all experiencing. Greek leaders understand how important it is to hand their negative comments -- In their positive comments. Down. When -- -- playing up to someone that can help you you're trying to solve problems. Conversely complaining down. Is creating more issues. Don't -- Great leaders take personal accountability to people about their business. With a positive attitude and that's positive attitude is infectious. My friend cheap -- said that she only a positive company. And I'll show you -- positive company officer. Conversely show me a negative company. And I'll show you a negative company officer. How true -- that. Remember these words victims -- problems. Leaders present solutions. I encourage you to -- and solutions. I want to close by saying. Have this leadership thing figured and I've made many mistakes in my career and I'm gonna continue to make more hopefully not the same ones of course. But I can tell you with conviction that I love this job and I'm trying to be the absolute best leader that I can be. I'm working on the things that I need to improve on and I'm giving myself a small pat on the back when I do things right. When you leave here today. I need you to start working on things. Don't wait for the cheap the assistant chief your captain. The union president or anyone else for that matter to solve the issues that your fire department. Is currently experiencing. Because they can't solve the mobile we fail as a team and we succeed as a team. And because of -- some asking everyone in this room today did she just try. I'm also -- asking you to stop the gossip. I'm telling yet it's killing your fire department. If you only take away one thing from my speech this morning. Remember this quote from Stephen copy. Assume that everything you say -- -- another. They can hear. Now speak according. How would that change the gossip. In your fire department. We all know this is the best -- job in the world so if you're not. Having fun it's dart. Like little -- too short to be miserable. Focus on the positives that I promise you'll see your department through it different lands. Please stop -- in the hallway over the next few days and let's talk about the great things your doing. Or that you're going to do in your department when you get home. Thanks for listening have a great conference but most of -- be a leader don't just be a position. And ladies and gentlemen the pride of Canada. Book that's in charge of -- -- to -- back here again tomorrow morning remember tonight. First time one time opportunity you'll never get to do this again in your entire lives. Come celebrate the 75 birthday of fire chief -- room to see. Right here at 530 tonight with Brendan -- -- -- I just got didn't. The back and ahead. With Bruno in Norman unplugged at 538 also please join us at the -- bash. Behind voters that's the -- the great wings. Tonight for the fools bash please come to support the -- in the in the union triples the great job for us. I'd like to thank you all for being here this morning remember keep Richie and his family your thoughts and prayers. Special thanks to all the guys and gals from Chicago came down and grace us with their presence all our friends from Canada came -- Steve. You are the best firefighters in the world you are the solutions of these problems -- -- -- -- god bless and let's go have a great day.

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