Why Leadership?

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As the year winds and grinds to a close, and I take the time to reflect on what has happened in my life these past 12 months, I thought it would be a good idea to explain a bit why leadership is important to me.   This won’t be a long post, and it won’t devolve into the typical ramblings about place, culture, and my latest musings.

To me, leadership is more than a job related responsibility – it’s also part of being a better person  in my personal life, away from the job.  The skills that are required for “leadership” in my workplace are quite often skills that go hand in hand with being a good human being in general.  Things like evaluating arguments for validity while keeping an open mind are great to use away from work.  Good communication and listening skills are good to have regardless of the situation.  Working well with others just makes sense in our personal lives.  Respect for others?  Yup.  Integrity?  Of course that’s important away from the office.  Being aware of your actions and their consequences?  Indeed, it’s part of it as well.

Giving your best in all that you do.  Knowing when to walk away or give in because it’s not your way or nothing… The art of compromise.  Valuing relationships over things, even if they are imperfect.  Taking the good and bad in stride.  Striving for the best while recognizing that failure is a part of life… Treating failure as another chance to learn how to succeed.  These are all components of leadership that are essential to success and happiness on and off the job.

In my attempts to become a better person, to better understand the how and why of who I am, I keep coming back to these nearly-universal concepts.  Leadership skills  are more than just something we do at work, or for work – they are life skills.  It should be something that is a part of who we are no matter what the situation.  I’m hoping that we all want to be better people, and the skills we use to be better leaders are transferable to our lives outside of our official “leadership” duties.

In my mind, it doesn’t matter if I’m a leader or not – I’m going to try and become a better person by practicing the skills I listed above, and more.  It’s not easy,  it takes time and commitment, but the benefits extend far beyond the workplace.  I hope more people in wildland fire and aviation will understand that the qualities and skills that make a good leader also make us better humans, and that’s every bit as important as being a leader.

Until next time…

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About Justin Vernon

Fire and Aviation Specialist (aka jack of all trades) for the US Forest Service, based in Boise, Idaho. I'm also an amateur photographer, wanna-be writer, tech aficionado, and a classic introvert who values quiet time as much as I do the mountains and people of the Pacific Northwest. All opinions voiced are mine alone and do not represent those of the US Forest Service.
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