Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Real Story about Firefighter's Leave

I am hoping that all you readers of the PDN, Mariana's Variety, and all of you who watch KUAM, PNC and any other news agencies that carried the story about the Public Auditor's report on the Firefighters Non-Productive Pay on Leave and Other Compensation read this. And I am just getting started.

Folks, let's face it, this is all about politics. There are forces that have wanted to find ways to cut the firefighter's pay for years. I know this for fact because I have been asked by Senators regarding going to the 8-hour shift numerous times. But the 8-hour shift will be another post.

Why do I say its political. Well read further and I will explain.

The Public Auditor bases most of her report on firefighter compensation on the so-called 61 hours involving firefighter leave hours. The OPA refers to these hours in her report as "non-productive and bonus compensation". Well I will agree with her that these hours are non-productive hours. 

Answer me this, who, when they are on leave is productive? No one right? Not even the Public Auditor herself, Doris Flores Brooks, can claim she is technically productive when on leave. Maybe if you are on Admin leave and going to a conference, you may be productive. But when we are taking about the leave that the Public Auditor herself is talking about, no one is productive. So why is she singling out the firefighters?

Oh, she says that we work a 106 hour pay period and when we go on leave we are only charged 9 hours per day for a total of 45 hours per pay period. This, she says, results in 61 hours of non-productive pay or as she said, the Attorney General's moniker for it, "bonus pay". This 61 is a result of subtracting the 45 hours charged for a firefighter taking a full pay period of leave, 5 working days (24hrs/day) from the "106 hour pay period".

OK, so I hope we are all on the same page so far. So yes, when any employee is on leave, they are not productive. Even every one of you readers that have a paid leave benefit at your job. As for as the AG referring to "bonus compensation". How can anyone get a bonus for being paid when on leave. Doesn't everyone that has a paid leave benefit as part of their compensation package for their job, get paid when on leave? I believe that is what paid leave is for. When an 80 hour worker goes on one day leave, do they only get paid 72 hours for the pay period? No, they get paid the full 80 hours. That is what paid leave is for!! So where is this so-called bonus pay. Why then would firefighters be paid any different? Is there discrimination involved here?

Here is the law:

"Firefighters shall be charged no more than nine (9) hours annual leave or sick leave for any given day on which such leave is taken." 

The key phrase here is "any given day". Well what do you think that means. Don't you think that if we have paid leave, just like any other Gov Guam employee or any other employee in the private sector, we should be paid for that day of leave taken. That is what the law states and it should be applied equally to everyone. The law doesn't state anything about a one for one exchange or hour for hour. That is not the language that the Senators, and this includes many Senators going back to the 12th Guam Legislature, approved. They said 9 hours charged for any given day.

What is a day you might ask? Well the Department of Administration Rules and Regulations Manual defines a day on page 117 as a calendar day. How many hours are in a calendar day? I hope we can all agree that there are 24 hours in a calendar day. Therefore firefighters are supposed to be paid for an entire calendar day when on one day of leave. And firefighters are only to be charged 9 hours for it. Why are firefighters only charged 9 hours? One would have to ask all the Senators that passed all the various versions of this law since the 12th Guam Legislature. But be that as it may, that is the law.

Is this law equitable? How can you compare an 80 hour employee to an employee that works 120 hours? You really can't. Their work shifts are so different. If we were to be fair, we should increase the firefighters leave accrual rate because they work 50% more hours in a pay period than the typical 80 hour employee. So maybe we should accrue 50% more leave per pay period. Don't you think that would be fair? But we all know you really can't compare apples to oranges, if we are going to be "fair".

So knowing all of this how can a firefighter, who takes 5 days of leave, because that is how many shifts (24hrs each) we work in a pay period (14 days), receive any bonus pay if we are only compensated for 106 hours for that pay period? As a matter of fact, if you do the math, we actually work 120 hours in a pay period but we are not compensated for all of it. We are shorted 14 hours. I believe, if all of you are following me so far, we are being shorted 14 hours of pay here, a complete violation of the law. No bonus pay here.

The Public Auditor didn't bring that issue up did she? Why not? Isn't she supposed to be thorough? I mean, a certified public auditor of the stature of Doris Flores Brooks, who is presenting some pretty serious accusations to the public about firefighter compensation, should be very accurate and not leave any stone unturned. Right? And let me illustrate another inconsistency in her report.

Ms Brooks writes in her report that firefighters work a 106 hour pay period in a 14 day pay period in which they work 120 hours. Does that make sense?

Here is what we really work. We work a 14 day pay period just like all Gov Guam employees. Within this pay period, we work five (5) 24 hours shifts (8am to 8am) for a total of 120 hours of work in a pay period. Not one firefighter who works the 24 hour schedule works 106 hours. So I have no idea how anyone can say we work a 106 hour pay period. And I will challenge anyone to name just one firefighter who does. Just name one firefighter. I mean if you are going to claim something, then back it up with some hard cold facts.

So in retrospect, yes while on leave, all those hours are non productive, because we are not working!!!! And as far as the AG's claim of bonus compensation, well if we are only getting 106 hours of compensation while on leave but we are supposed to be compensated for every day (24 hours) while on leave, we are actually being shorted 14 hours while on leave. No compensation for 14 hours!!! So where is the bonus here!!! I don't think that we have to be an attorney or an auditor to understand what is happening here.

But wait, there's more......

I know, it sounds like an infomercial.

Here is one of the laws that adopted the 9 hours of leave for firefighters. There are many others. Read it and make note of all those Senators who voted to pass this law. Public Law 28-72.

Cover Page

Public Law Signature Page

Page 1

Page 2

Voting Sheet

Committee Voting Sheet

You can view this in its entirety here.

Now that you have read all that and viewed all the signatures, let me ask you this. Do you think all of these Senators and the Gov. Felix Camacho did not know what they were signing? Do you think that they did not know what they were doing? Of course not. They are all very intelligent persons. So why is Senator Palacios bad mouthing this leave compensation and so called inequities? He voted for it.

Here is what Senator Palacios had to say in the Pacific News Center report by News Director Kevin Kerrigan....

Click this link PNC News

So we vote for it one day and complain about it the next. I guess everyone has the right to change their mind. I guess....

But, as you can see even the Lt. Governor himself, Ray Tenorio, voted to pass this measure into law. And rightfully so. The Lt. Governor has always supported the firefighters and other public safety officials. He has always had our "backs"!!! And we thank him for that.

So is anyone at fault for passing this measure and signing it into law? I think not. It did stem from the 12th Guam Legislature. I mean these Senators were voted into office, so many of you out there, including me, voted them in and, because of that, had a hand in their work and actions. And in this case, passing this measure into law. 

All we did was vote these politicians into office. And all they did was pass this one measure, which was signed into law, because they felt is was a good measure and the right thing to do.

So why is all this happening now? I will leave that all up to you. My opinion..... politics as usual. It is just the firefighter's turn now. And the powers to be don't appear to care who gets hurt. Maybe next week it will be GPD, Corrections, who knows. You have all seen how these things work out. And it all makes such wonderful news and very juicy comments in the news media. It gives a lot of people something to do.

So my point being, how can anyone say that the firefighters are thieves, crooks, abusers of the system, when they had no part in determining their pay any more than you did. They are just the worker bees. As a matter of fact, you all know that the Government still owes the public safety officers 20% more on the public safety increments. So someone thought we were worth more.

Excessive pay they say? It doesn't appear so. Show me specifically where.

Money savings? How can we save any money here when there is no basis for these monies that were based on the non-productive hours when employees go on paid leave as I have illustrated?

Simple words....distortions of the facts.

People pushing their own agendas??? 

No one did anything wrong then nor now concerning the firefighter leave compensation. 

Wait, I am wrong here. Firefighters are not getting compensated for all their leave hours right now when they go on leave. They are being shorted 14 hours because they only get 106 hours of paid leave when the law states that they are supposed to get 120 hours of compensation. Remember? So yes, firefighters are not getting bonus compensation, the are getting shorted. And that's the law......

Until next time.....

PS- Next post I will explain the basis for the firefighters pay of 106 hours of regular pay and 14 hours of overtime pay per pay period and who voted for this law. You are going to be very surprised with what I have to show you. There is more to expose!!!!

PSS- I will be the first to admit that I am not an English Major, so please bear with me. I am trying my best. -Rueben-

Friday, August 19, 2011

Firefighters Accused of Receiving 61 hours of Excessive Pay!!! What's that all about??

Lately there has been a lot of press of the firefighters receiving 61 hours of excessive pay. This is what is claimed by the Office of the Public Auditor (OPA) report. 

Here is the executive summary of that report...

Page 1

Page 2

You can read the entire report here.

Here are just a few of my thoughts on this matter and these are just the tip of the iceberg....

This was sent to Brett Kelman, Pacific Daily News and others.... 

Read the on line PDN headlines: "$6.3 million for no work". And you know Brett, its true. That $6.3 references those "non-productive" hours of firefighters. In her report she illustrates where those hours come from. She said that we work a 106 pay period. When we go on leave we are only charged 45 hours for that pay period. And the balance, is 61 hours that she says we are getting paid and not working. Other terms for this from her, "bonus money, free money". Let me clarify the spin on this topic. 

First we work a 14 day pay period, not a 106 hours pay period. All Gov Guam Employees work a 14 day pay period. And we do not work a 106 hour pay period, we work 120 hours within that 14 day pay period. So there is already inaccurate info on the report. 

Now the 61 hours. Well she refers to the hours when we are on leave. Well we are not productive when we are on leave. What employee is? The law is clear, for every day that we go on leave, and that is a 24 hour period (one of Websters definitions) we are only to be charged 9 hours ( Senator Palacios voted to pass the 9 hour leave bill so why is he complaining about it). So that means we should be paid for that because we all have a paid leave benefit in the Government, to include the OPA's personnel. So, by law, we are supposed to be paid while we are on annual, sick or other leaves, if we still have leave on the books. If she is saying that we are not supposed to be paid for those 61 hours when we are on leave, then is she insinuating that we should go on leave without pay when we go on vacation. Is she saying that when we go on vacation for one pay period, we should only get paid for 45 hours and not the rest, 61hrs? So in essence we would be on Leave Without Pay for the 61 hours. Does the rest of Gov Guam do this when they go on vacation? Does the 80 hour worker lose pay when they go on vacation? Really, why would Firefighters be treated any different. And when you start to treat employees differently for the same principles, then you start to violate their civil rights.

We work 120 hours within every pay period. That is the schedule. We currently are not getting paid, while on leave, for those hours over 106. We lose money. The paid leave is supposed to pay for those hours. 5 days x 24hrs/day = 120 hours. We are the only employees within the Govt of Guam that actually lose money when we go on leave. Is this fair? No, I think not. And the Federal Courts have ruled on this in firefighter's favor. As a matter of fact, the federal courts have ruled that when we go on leave, we not only get paid for all hours on leave, but any hours over 106 in a 14 day period, must be compensated at OT rates. We don't get this either and we are not making a big issue about it right now.

Now if the OPA doesn't like the law that she help vote in, P.L. 20-172, regarding firefighter compensation, then lobby for the law to be changed.

Our 14 hours OT every payday, which we have been receiving since 2003 and before that 16.5 hours since the 1980s, is termed "customary overtime" by the federal courts. This is OT that is scheduled to be worked. I have attached one federal court ruling regarding this matter. It is all explained therein. We are looking at taking this matter to court and are currently in discussion with 3 attorneys (by different firefighters) that I am aware of.

It is just a shame that the OPA and Senator Palacios have cast another dark cloud over the firefighters. Here we are portrayed as the bad guys and all we do is go to work and respond to emergencies. If people are jealous because we make more salary than most, than maybe they should put in their applications to become firefighters. Maybe they may be one the lucky 30 out of 1000 who make the cut. But don't blame us for getting the education, getting the specialized training, most on our own dime, in order to get a head in the world. Just because some folk's wages are below the poverty level, everyone else should be also? Become a firefighter, if that is what you want, and see if you can handle the job. It is not for everyone and not everyone can do the job. Sometimes the job is very gruesome and stressful, not to mention dangerous with many hazardous exposures.

But the bottom line is that the non productive time is that time when we are on paid leave. We do not get paid for all hours when on leave. OT hours are mandated to be paid by the Federal Government. Night differential is for all Gov Guam employees. 

The OPA and Senator Palacios appear to be putting a different spin on these issues, in my opinion, for whatever their real agendas are.

I guess we are not going to be getting any Firetrucks, ambulances, equipment or firefighters any time soon. It appears the priorities of some folks are not concerning the safety of our employees and residents of Guam.

My second email to Brett Kelman, Pacific Daily News...

Thanks Brett. You know the most disappointing part is that we firefighters go to work and earnestly perform our jobs to the best of our abilities. I have spent almost 39 years in public safety. 25 of those years with the Guam Fire Department. I have worked hard, gone to school, went to specialized training, kept my nose clean and devoted myself to the service of the public. That is why I voice my opinion. I am just trying to help out by explaining things. If I didn't care, I wouldn't even bother. I am an intense and dedicated individual when it comes to serving and protecting the public. Many firefighters are like this. And to see people cut us down to push their own agendas with wanton abandon and no animosity whatsoever with who they hurt, families mind you, is truly disappointing and disgusting. 

Well the OPA is wrong, she knows it and she still pushes her views. These are not even objective. It's so obvious for those in the know. 

I mean really read the whole report. The 61 hours "non-productive" time, the basis for most of the savings of money in this report, is all leave hours. She is actually saying that we should not be paid for those hours on leave. So when we go on leave, as I said before, is she expecting us to only get paid for 45 hours worth in a two week period. Where is the equity here? All the 80 hours employees are paid for the entire 2 weeks when they use their leave benefit. Even the OPA's employees. So when you start using double standards like this, you start to infringe upon the rights of individuals as well as classes of employees and this is, quite frankly, a Civil Rights violation.

The 14 hours overtime for anything over 106 hours in a 14 day pay period is a federal law. Gov Guam has to obey that. It takes precedence over local law.

The night diff is offered to all Gov Guam employees. Hazardous pay, we don't get it. EMT pay, only the firefighters that work on the ambulance for that particular shift get that pay. The ALS personnel also receive it . All these laws passed by the legislature.

As a matter of fact, the OPA herself, when she was a Senator in the 20th Guam Legislature, voted for this 106 hour/14 hour overtime firefighter compensation. That law is 20-172 and I have attached it for you. Her name is present and on the voting sheet. Same with Sen. Palacios. He voted during the 28th Guam Legislature to approve our compensation bill and 9 hour leave stipulation also. It is all on the Legislature web site. I attached that law also with showing Sen. Palacios voting for this measure. This is pure and simple, political grandstanding at it's best. These two persons voted these laws in and now they are complaining about them at the expense of the firefighters and their families. So sad...

Anyway, I do have plenty of hard core factual exhibits and maybe we can sit down and go over these so that you can see the "real" picture.

The facts have been distorted. How much money will anyone save if all the firefighter's don't go on leave. Not a penny. But I guess the threat of treating us like 4th rate Gov Guam workers is satisfaction enough for them. As the saying goes, Politics is dirty.....

These are just a few of my thoughts. What I haven't seen was a real example of how any of these so called non-productive hours and pay are excessive and who received this excessive pay, when, and why was that excessive. 

Actual specifics should really be shown. And then also how the pay is excessive.

I may expand on this thought thread later. There are so many more discrepancies in the report to bring attention to. I want to see where this is all going first. I have my suspicions. 

Until next time....

Firefighter Interviews

Recently the Guam Fire Department conducted interviews for potential fire recruits. I wanted to make sure that we all recognize the committee members. I want to remind everyone that these members conducted these interviews on their on and off time. Happy labor was the call of the day. Their willingness to sacrifice personnel time away from their families is very admirable. 

Here is a photo of our Fire Recruit Interview Committee....

Pictured from left to right are Captain Andy Arceo, Captain Joe Terlaje, Captain Pete Charfauros, Captain Ed Chaco, Secretary Kathy Leon Guerrero, and Firefighter Art Stanley.

We need to applaud all the members of this committee for a job well done. You all truly epitomize the professionalism of your professions.

My hat is off to you all.

Until next time....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

National Firefighter Wage Info

National Firefighter Wage Estimates

National Fire Captain Wage Estimates

Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a "year-round, full-time" hours figure of 2,080 hours. 

To view other categories in Public Safety click here.

Until next time....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

EMT Pay....Is There a Problem????

Wow!!! It is truly unbelievable that Senator Palacios is now harping about our EMT pay. He feels that there is abuse of this pay. Just watch and listen to the PNC news interview and report that Kevin Kerrigan, PNC News Director, did on this matter...

Well, naturally we all know what it takes to staff our 4 ambulances. Though there are times when we have anywhere from 1-5 ambulances in service, we have been averaging about 4. And least we not forget that our ALS , Advanced Life Support personnel, EMT-Is, man 2 ALS vehicles. Of course we know the staffing here is supposed to be 3 at all times, but we have been only staffing the ALS vehicles, most of the times, with two person crews in an effort to contain costs, basically saving money.

Well, I was not about to let this misinformation go on without a rebuttal so I was interviewed by Kevin Kerrigan on Tuesday. Of course everyone knows I only give interviews on my day off for the obvious reasons....freedom of speech.

Here is that interview....

I gave Keving Kerrigan a breakdown on the staffing required for 4 ambulances and 2 ALS vehicles per pay period because that is what the reports reflects, the EMT pay costs per pay period. Apparently Senator Palacios has no idea what it takes to staff emergency vehicles for the Guam Fire Department.

Of course we know that we do not use different firefighter/EMTs every shift on each ambulance. There are plenty of personnel working 2 to 3 shifts on the ambulances per pay period so we are not using 196 different firefighters to staff the 4 ambulances. But that figure does reflect the minimum personnel that are necessary. In other words, that is how many 'seats' we must fill every pay period with what we have been averaging. And, as I mentioned before, the ALS personnel have been working quite a few 2 person crews to help save money by not using that 3rd person. So everyone is trying doing their part.

Leave it up to Senator Palacios to complain about us responding to medical emergencies.

Again I would have to call Senator Palacios' math or should I say, 'maff' into question. When he was trying to orally calculate our ambulance staffing he said something about 5 times 6 equals 30. What was that about? I have no idea how he derived at these numbers. Even my son-in-law, who was watching the replay of the newscast, could not believe how misinformed Senator Palacios is.

Senator Palacios also complained about the Fire Suppression personnel being EMTs and responding to medical emergencies. He said that fire suppression people are those that go out and extinguish fires. Kevin Kerrigan asked the Senator, why are they (suppression personnel) getting the medic pay. Senator Palacios' answer was, "That's what I can't understand." First of all if you don't understand something about the fire department, Mr. Public Safety Chairman, then go ask the Fire Chief, or any firefighter for that matter. Don't go straight to the news media and sensationalize something that you don't understand.

Secondly, all fire suppression personnel are EMTs as required by P.L. 28-62, which you should be aware of as you voted in support of the bill. Here is the voting record....

And thirdly, fire suppression personnel rotate on and off the ambulances as needed in order to perform those mandated duties and keep their EMT skills fresh. 

All I can say to Senator Palacios is this, "Senator, why don't you come out to our fire stations and meet and greet the firefighters. See how we operate. Ask us questions. Inquire how we are doing. Ask us what you can do for us. Because since you have been our oversight chairperson, going on your 2nd term, you have done nothing about helping us purchase firetrucks, new ambulances, equipment, hire new firefighters or really anything else positive. You have used most of your time concentrating on cutting down the Guam Fire Department, calling to question the integrity of all the firefighters and staff, trying to destroy the public trust of the fire department and the list goes on. This is quite subversive."

"Yes, we have our problems as does any Gov Guam agency and private business, but you really have done nothing for us. And all of this has been happening on your watch. It is a direct reflection of your leadership or lack there of and lack of willingness to work with our fire administration. You don't even know how many fire stations we have. Senator Palacios, WE HAVE 12 FIRE STATIONS, NOT 10, as you said in the news interview."

"Wake up and smell the coffee. Get into the game. You are our oversight chair and we keep asking for your help. If it was not for Senator Ben Pangelinan taking the lead with DOI to help us obtain a commitment for the $500,000 for ambulances, which you tagged along on, your record with GFD would be practically clear. Well, come election time, I hope everyone does not forget all the wonderful things that you did not do for the Guam Fire Department. And these are the sentiments of every firefighter that I have spoken to or has called me."

What more can we say???

Until next time....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Roundtable Meeting called for by Senator Palacios

Senator Palacios is calling for another roundtable meeting inviting the Guam Fire Department to discuss information of a variety of topics. Below is the information from the Legislative calendar... 

Round Table - A.B. Palacios, SR.
WhenFri, August 19, 6pm – 7pm
WherePublic Hearing Room (map)
DescriptionThe Committee on Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Judiciary will be conducting a public meeting for discussion are the following: 1. Development of "Short Term" solution, which would entail: Leasing of private ambulance; Progress/status of repairs of the ambulances at shops 2. Development of a plan for "long-Term" solution, which would entail: Purchasing of new ambulances; - Adopting the specifications - Drafting RFI's - Quantity to purchase - Funding Sources 3. Estimated project revenues from outsourcing of billing (Life Quest Contract). 4. Estimated time for the full implementation of ambulance fees, billings, and collections. 5. Average annual cost for maintenance per vehicle, for "First Responder" Vehicles. 6. Average annual expenditure for repairs of "First Responder" vehicles (based on the last 3-5 years expenditures.) 7. Suggest legislation, new or amendment, to mititgate the current conditions of the ambulance service. For additional information please contact Julian Janssen of Jennifer Dulla at 472-5047/5048

Hope those of you who are not working will be able to attend. These meeting always prove very interesting. I, unfortunately must work that day.

Until next time....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

95 Year Old War Veteran Speaks Out!!!!

To all concerned....I am not a political party person. But I was sent this info and I think if a 95 yr. old war veteran has something to say, we should at least listen. So here goes...

This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.

Dear President Obama,      
    My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year.  People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate.  Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.
One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.
So here goes.
I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can't figure out what country you are the president of. 
You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like: 
            " We're no longer a Christian nation" 
            " America is arrogant" - (Your wife even announced to the world," America is mean- spirited. " Please tell her to try preaching 
                that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.)
I'd say shame on the both of you, but I don't think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you.  To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said," America hasn't lived up to her ideals."
Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British?  Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?  I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.
I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination.  You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.
Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.
Shape up and start acting like an American.  If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue .  You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.
And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts , who was putting up a fight?  You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.
One more thing.  I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son.  Do your job.  When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him.  But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out.  The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.   
You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy.  That's not our greatest threat.  Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. 
And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle...
Harold B. Estes

Wow!!! Now that was some heavy stuff. That is what is fantastic about our great island and the nation....we have the liberty to speak our mind!!

Until next time....

The Perils of Leadership...Part 3

The Perils of Leadership: Making Chief is the Easy Part 
by Chief John Buckman

Here is the 3rd installment of Chief John Buckman's Leadership Series.....


Three key drivers of leadership development are assessment, challenge and support. Developmental experiences are most effective when all three elements are present. 

These elements serve dual purposes in the development process. First, they motivate people to focus their attention and exert effort toward learning, growth, and change. Second, they provide the raw materials or resources for learning: the information, observations and reactions that can lead to a more complex and sometimes quite different understanding of the world. To enhance the development of leaders we need to help them find, create, and shape a wide range of learning experiences, each of which provides assessment, challenge and support. 

Assessment: The best developmental experiences are rich in assessment data. Assessment is important because it gives people an understanding of where they are now, what an individual’s current strengths are, the level of their current performance or leadership effectiveness. 

In the context of their everyday work, people may not be aware of the degree to which their usual behaviors or actions are effective. In the face of a new challenge, they may not know what to continue doing and what to change. Even if they do realize that what they are doing is ineffective, people may believe the answer is to just work harder, or it may not occur to them to try a new strategy. But when an experience provides feedback on how they are doing and how they might improve or provides other means for critical self-reflection, then people are more likely to understand their situation and to capitalize on a learning opportunity. 

Challenge: Experiences that can be most potent to development are those that stretch or challenge us. Individuals develop certain strengths--ways of thinking and acting that work for them, become comfortable for them, and lead them to habitual ways of thinking and acting. As long as conditions don't change, people feel no need to move beyond their comfort zone and develop new strengths. 

In a comfortable assignment, they use their familiar strengths well in serving the needs of the organization, and they do not learn very much from the assignment. The same is true for a comfortable relationship, with incoming feedback that confirms a training program or skills that have already been mastered. In all such cases, comfort is truly the enemy of growth and continued effectiveness. 

Challenging experiences force people out of their comfort zone. They create an imbalance, causing people to question the adequacy of their skills, frameworks and approaches. These experiences require that people develop new capacities if they are to be successful. Consider a task-force assignment in which the task is critical to the which success or failure will become known...and after which task-force members will present an action recommendation to senior officers within that department. Such an assignment can be thought of as developmental because challenge is embedded deeply in it. However, this type of assignment will prove particularly developmental for people who have not faced such challenges before. 

People feel challenged when they encounter situations that demand skills and abilities beyond their current capabilities, when the situation is very confusing or ambiguous or when the person in question is confronted with a situation they would rather not deal with. The challenge might be negotiating the resolution of a conflict between two divisions with opposing views on how something should be done, or it might involve confronting people with the fact that they are not going to get the promotion they think they deserve. 

Some challenges are due to a lack of experience. They require the person to broaden and acquire new skills and perspectives. Other challenges require changing old habits; either the situation has changed and old responses are no longer adequate or old responses were never that effective in the first place. 

Support: Developmental experiences stretch people and point out strengths and weaknesses, but are more powerful when they also have an element of support. While the element of challenge provides the motivation to change, the support elements of an experience send the message that their efforts to learn and grow are valued. If people don't receive support in the form of confirming messages, and if other people do not allow and encourage them to change, then the challenge inherent in a development experience may overwhelm them, rather than opening them up to learning. 

Support helps people handle the struggle and pain of developing; it actually helps them bear the weight of the experience. It is needed to help them maintain a positive view of themselves as people capable of dealing with challenges who can learn and grow, who are worthy and valuable. Seeing that others place a positive value on their efforts to change and grow is key for people to stay on-course with development goals. 

Perhaps the largest source of support is other people: bosses, coworkers, family, friends, professional colleagues, coaches, and mentors--even a favorite author. Support can also take the form of organizational norms and procedures. Organizations that are more supportive of development have a closely held belief that continuous learning and development of the staff is a key factor in maintaining organizational success. They emphasize helping people identify development needs and working out plans for addressing those needs. These organizations use a variety of development strategies, make resources available for learning, and recognize and reward efforts to learn and grow. Feedback, cross-group sharing of knowledge and information, and learning from mistakes are all parts of the organizational culture.

Tomorrow, I will post the 4th part of Chief Buckman's Leadership Series, "WHAT HAPPENS TO UNDERDEVELOPED LEADERS".

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Until next time....