Supporting Your Team Leader

Supporting Your Team Leader

Another important skill that contributes to being a capable Advanced Firefighter is the way we ‘follow’ our leaders.

A good Crew Leader can be even more effective if they are supported by capable team members.

As an Advanced Firefighter, the way you support your Crew Leader is just as important as the way you lead your smaller team.

Throughout the course of training and experience gained in the NSW RFS, a member with the AF qualification has been exposed to a wide variety of information. In the heat of the moment at any incident, the Crew Leader will rely on the team they lead to be additional ‘eyes and ears’.

You can support them by asking yourself questions such as:

  • Did our crew leader hear a radio message?
  • Did our crew leader notice a change in the weather?
  • Does our crew leader know that a member of the team is not feeling so well?

Anything at the incident could become vital information for the Crew Leader – an Advanced Firefighter is expected to use their own judgement to know what information is important and what is not.

Aristotle: ‘He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.’

Another aspect to supporting the team leader is to provide options when the needed course of action is not so clear cut. It is possible that an Advanced Firefighter might have the key piece of information or training that could assist at an incident. It is the responsibility of that firefighter to speak up and make those options available to the Crew Leader.

Over time, some teams and crews develop a good understanding of the job and the tasks that need to be performed. As mentioned previously, these teams just seem to get the job done, with each knowing what has to be done and just getting it done. An Advanced Firefighter has the skills and knowledge to start this process in any team. If you see a task that has to be done, just get it done. A firefighter that waits for every instruction from the Crew Leader is going to become quite frustrating for that Crew Leader.

At times we may come across a leader that may not have the expertise in a particular situation to make effective decisions. In this case you may be required to tactfully ‘lead up’. This should never come across as a reflection of a failure on your leader’s part and should be viewed as supporting your leader by providing them with additional tools to do their job if you are in a position to do so.

There will always be fewer leaders than followers and great leaders are fewer still. Great followers are many and contribute to great leaders.