In this article, we will examine the power of informal influence through character-based leadership, which is the foundation of TACTical leadership. The emphasis of TACTi- cal leadership is to use “tact” as a key principle to leading
others. Many people have confused the idea of leadership with the
idea of requiring rank to lead, which is simply not true! A leader
is someone who motivates and influences others toward a common vision or goal. Some of the most influential people in the fire
service don’t wear a trumpet and are able to motivate and influence
others such as our senior firefighters and engineers. These people
are called informal leaders because of their ability to influence others without the formality of rank. We believe exhibiting this style
of leadership as an informal leader will prepare you for the formal
role. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have been mentored
by formal leaders with this highly successful style of leadership
understand why it works so well. We need a culture of character-based leadership at all levels to have a truly successful fire service,
and it starts with using tact! This article will discuss key attributes
of character-based leadership for the formal and informal leaders in
the fire service.
ADAPT AND DEVELOP
TACTical leadership is a style of character-based leadership that
You don’t need a trumpet to be a leader!
shows you how to influence others and deliver your message with
tact. Tact is defined as having a keen sense of what to do or say to
avoid giving offense or having the skill in dealing with difficult
and delicate situations. Exhibiting tact does not mean we shy away
from tough or difficult situations; however, we should approach
them after considering the situation and the individuals involved.
The characteristics of the situation and the individuals will change
every time, which requires you as the leader to adapt and develop
the best possible solution.
For example, consider two individuals who are preparing for a
promotional exam. One individual has been preparing for months
just for the opportunity and some personal event occurs that takes
his time and focus away from the promotional exam. The other
individual has never cracked a book, asked for assistance, or shown
interest in training past the minimum expectation. Now, it is two
weeks away from the promotional exam, and both ask for help.
Your approach to this situation will set a precedence for your repu-
tation as a leader (informal or formal).
It would be extremely easy to walk away from the unmotivated
individual and not assist. However, by walking away, are we not
going against everything we stand for? It is our job as leaders to
help both individuals; however, it will be with different methods
of tact. The first individual will be easy to support, as we deter-
mine collectively what is needed and then execute the task. This
first individual will be grateful for the assistance and surely pay
A leader is someone who motivates and
influences others toward a common
vision or goal. (Photo by Brian Ward.)
BY TOMMY GORAN AND BRIAN WARD