The Team Concept

I discovered something this week that I thought I would share. I remember back some years ago my mentor Deputy Chief Paul Anderson made a comparison to the New England Patriots and their “Desire to win”.

I think it is only appropriate to look at the “team concept” approach and how it does not seem to work as well in the fire service.

I say that it does not work well particularly during the non-emergency times. I have not heard of departments that are having major problems at fires but in the down station time there are conflicts.

Let’s make sure we have our comparisons correct by using this baseline:

The city manager would be compared to the owner.

The head coach would be the fire chief.

Other coaches would be division or battalion chiefs.

Squad or team captains would be the fire service equivalent of captains and lieutenants.

A football team has several “squads” or teams within the organization such as offense, defense, special teams etc.

OK so here goes the thought process using the Football as our analogy.

* Do you win the Super bowl by sitting around the locker room criticizing The coach and the owner? Is that tolerated?

* Do the special teams and squads come together as one or do they operate as four separate shifts or groups?

* How many people get to call the plays? Does everyone get a shot or do certain persons make decisions that everyone must play by?

* Do you think members that are not assigned to play were happy they did not get to play? Did they continue to function as a good team members?

* There were members of the team that did not play at all, yet they are still as much champions because they also are members of the team. If a member of your team does a good thing it reflects on all, it a member does a bad thing it also reflects on all.

* The team concept and the overall goal must be kept in perspective each and everyday at every practice (read this as training) and at every meeting. Failure to promote the overall good and team concept of the mission will lead to failure every time.

How many teams are in your fire department and how many do you belong to?

Different groups or working shifts

Union membership

Volunteer or call active members vs.: associate members of the organization

Different stations or substations that do things a certain way

Management or middle management officers such as lieutenants and captains

All of these sub teams must exist and do exist in every fire department organization, the real question is are they always playing on the same team?

The answer is a simple one. No they are not, and in human nature they won’t unless someone at some level steps up to the plate and reminds everyone of what the team concept is and how to reach the overall goal.

That’s a tough thing to do, and you must be vigilant because you will have to do it all the time, but it is a noble and worthwhile role.

What do you do now coach?

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013