Classroom Sessions: Coaching and Mentoring: The Forgotten Elements of Leadership

On Monday morning at 8 a.m., FDIC 2014 officially opened its doors to students from around the country with a series of four-hour workshops spread throughout the Indianapolis Convention Center.

Among the highly informative, interactive sessions that highlighted the first morning was “Coaching and Mentoring: The Forgotten Elements of Leadership” presented by Essa Township (Ontario, Canada) Fire Department Chief Cynthia Ross Tustin in Room 132-33.

“Coaching and mentoring are like the delivery mechanisms for using that new information. Coaching and mentoring is often more intuitive and, for some, it may feel closer to the individual’s natural style,” Tustin said.

Tustin offered a fresh perspective on leading and leadership to “those who want to become a different kind of leader.”

“Our role models are extremely difficult to emulate. But in our quasi-military, command, and control environment, they are tools we rarely reach for.”

She also offered participants information into why people think and behave in certain ways, and then taught them how to use that information to improve performance—their own and that of their crew/department.

Tustin presented some practical exercises so students could get comfortable in applying a more authentic individual approach to motivation. “If you really want to break it down to the bare bones, it’s the psychology equivalent to a pump operator’s course for human behaviour. When you know better, you do better.”

Tustin also gave examples of how studies and science can determine the performance level leaders will find in their firefighters. “Do we want creative, resilient, productive firefighters? Those things fuel performance.”

“We want people to be creative in their preplanning, because we don’t want them to stop at one approach, not stop at one solution.”

About her class, Tustin noted, “The purpose of the class is to offer a fresh perspective on leading and leadership to those who want to become a different kind of leader.  It’s for individuals who feel that they may not fit into the traditional fire service mold.  Our role models are extremely inspiring, but very difficult to emulate.”

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