Leadership has as many facets as does the individual leader. Whether establishing a clear vision for the organization or providing knowledge in the attempt to realize that vision, a
leader, whether mayor, CEO, or fire chief, is integral to its success.
All organizations, both private and public, must have such leaders.
Pose the question, “What is leadership?” and one will be confronted with a multitude of definitions. One only needs to search
the term on the Internet to see the abundance of sources available. Carter and Rausch (1998) write that leadership has as many
definitions as there are people who have attempted to define the
concept. The same goes for what is effective leadership and what
constitutes a successful leader. Regardless of the organization, leadership must take on a particular style depending on a multitude
of variables, such as the type of profession, membership, and its
function. Consequently, the leader, depending on the organization,
might have to assume different roles in different times for different
purposes. The idea here is that there is simply not one default leadership style. This paradigm can also be applied to the fire service
but in a more defined way.
Because the nature of the fire service varies from emergency
operations to administrative, it would seem that several different
leadership styles would be necessary to ensure the effectiveness
and efficiency of a fire department. As the literature will illustrate,
there exists a plethora of publications dealing with leadership and
leadership styles. The greater issue or problem, especially in the fire
service where different types of leadership styles may be warranted
in different situations, is whether chief officers can even correctly
identify their particular leadership style. The issue is that although
numerous publications identify the type of leadership style a chief
fire officer should be, seldom do such chiefs even understand or
recognize leadership styles, not to mention their leadership style.
Specific to this research, the purpose here is to examine how
selected chief fire officers in Taiwan and England accurately identify their own leadership styles. Why England and Taiwan? First is
simply an issue of convenient sampling. I could secure assistance
from two chief fire officers in both countries who could distribute
a survey to chief officers. Second, both countries exercise different
avenues to promotion.
In England, like the United States, fire personnel seeking promotion generally take examinations or participate in an assessment
center. On the other hand, unlike the fire service, but much like
the military here in the United States, fire personnel in Taiwan first
obtain a fire-related degree at a college and then are assigned to a
fire department as an officer (Moschella and Chou, 1994).
There are many questions to be answered in a research project
such as this one, but only two are the focus of attention. First, to
what extent do chief fire officers in Taiwan accurately identify their
own leadership style? Similarly, the second question mirrors the
first, asking to what extent do chief fire officers in England accurately identify their own leadership style? Answering both questions will not only present a more focused picture of what chief
fire officers in both countries identify as their particular leadership
style but also will help to form the foundation to better prepare
future fire chiefs. To accomplish this task involves careful consideration of the various leadership styles found in the literature, which
are specifically related to the fire service.
of chief fire officers in the
United Kingdom and Taiwan
BY JOHN MOSCHELLA