It is summer in Boise. There is smoke in the air from the surrounding forest fires, cornfields, dried grass pastures and turtledoves on the fence. Another day, I would prepare for work; but today I took a minute to watch the doves.
"Ok, Pam, while doves have to do with leadership?" you ask. Not much if you look at the photo accompanying this blog. Many of you probably see a group of doves sitting on the fence. Some of you could see a dove caught in midair. The story really talks about what you do not see because everything happened before shooting or out of the lens of the camera.
If you know me, you know that I think of leadership ALL the time. Leadership is a 24/7-365-year-old thing. Leadership is not something we do at work when we do not fight the fire. In fact, I would venture to say, we spend most of our time being a leader in our personal time.
Back to the doves …
What you do not see in the photo is about 30 doves that took refuge in our backyard during the morning hours. My husband had recently filled the bird feeder, so the little ones had thrown part of the seed of their biggest feathered friends. You do not see the dozen or more doves at the base of the feeder, nor those sitting on the shed, nor our fat cat, Simon, lying on his pole and watching from afar, the quivering tail of the bird. ;anticipation.
As I watched the doves on the fence wait for the opportunity to appear for the seed, I could not help but notice the power dynamics of the situation. (My husband called it "hierarchical order" because it helped me quietly open the door to a photo.) Even my husband is not immune to my leadership stories. There were birds of all ages, sexes, sizes and levels of confidence. Larger birds did not seem to have a problem feeding it. However, there was a small bird that was making its way along the fence until it was confident enough to fly to feast.
Leadership is like that. We do not always have the confidence to move to action. Some of us think they need the authority to be a leader. Some of us do not have enough self-confidence to participate, even though they know we should do it. Some of us never leave the fence and look away. And some of us look like Simon who patiently looks forward to the perfect time to move to action and create chaos (and maybe, maybe, even a treat).
Each of these examples of leadership is important and exists in our organization. We develop our leadership art by patience, while developing the confidence to join the game. Where are you in history?
Go to the fence, around the manger or perch!
Until next time …
P.S. Do not forget to rest!
Pam McDonald is an editor and publisher for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.