Value-Added Leadership

Click to EnlargeOn Monday morning, Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department Chief (Ret.) Alan Brunacini addressed more than 60 firefighters of all ages in his “Value-Added Leadership” workshop. Several variations on the topic of leadership—from a discussion on the similarities and differences in past and present generational attitudes on leadership, to the ways of how a boss’s treatment of subordinates eventually gets passed along to the customers—were presented to the attentive class. Brunacini explained how a chief should expect his own behavior toward his firefighters to manifest itself when those same firefighters respond to a call. Focusing on the importance of “being nice,” this part of the workshop acknowledged the customers’ feelings and how a department’s attitude toward the people it is supposed to protect ultimately starts at the top. Brunacini, who began his fire service career in 1958, also spoke of his own introduction to leadership on hearing of his first chief’s early career frustrations transitioning from horse drawn to motorized carriage during World War I. “I believe that my fire career really started in 1914.”

Brunacini took a special interest in some of the younger firefighters sitting at the front of the class, asking them his own questions of their thoughts on leadership and how they respond to situations in which they don’t immediately have an answer. “There is no universal definition of leadership,” he told them.Click to Enlarge

“My generation,” Brunacini added, “was told, ‘keep your mouth shut,’ whereas the new generation is told to ask questions if you don’t know the answer. However, there is little difference in the basic value system between past and present generations of firefighters.”

Brunacini is a monthly contributor to Fire Engineering with his “Bruno ‘Unplugged’” column.



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