MENTORING: TO SECURE OUR FUTURE AND CEMENT OUR LEGACY
We are all familiar with the concept of coaching in the fire service. An officer or a seasoned fire- fighter ensures that we are technically proficient in a firefighter, rescue, or ems skill. That helps us to gain a high degree of technical expertise which enables us to perform various on-scene tasks that will make us safer and more likely to achieve our goal of returning home safely at the end of a call or shift. But as chief officers there is a need to growth in other ways professionally and person- ally. This is where we hope our new mentoring program will help to secure our future as fire service leaders and cement our legacy as veteran fire chiefs sharing our knowledge, expertise, and the tra- ditions of the fire service. This program is for both career and volunteer chief officers and those who aspire to be.
Mentoring is a bit different than coaching or improving our technical expertise. Mentoring builds longer term relationships and improves our emotional intelligence. Mentoring helps to draw out our leadership abilities, provides us with an impartial sounding board for tough decisions, and provides us with experience and expertise gained over many years in the fire service. It helps us to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and an understanding of others. It also keeps us focused on the big picture and keeps us grounded in the traditions of our proud fire service culture.
Mentoring helps us to build real and productive relationships with those who have experience with issues that you might now be facing of could soon face. A mentor can be an impartial and confiden- tial sounding board outside of your department or local area that can provide you with sound advice or just be an honest listener.
Think back on others who may have helped you along the way in your past. It could be a teacher or a friend, or a trusted supervisor. Didn't this help to make a positive difference in your life? That is what we are trying to do now with this program. For mentors it is a way to give back and to build a legacy. For mentees it can open a whole new world of ideas and experiences from others who can help you build your leadership competencies. No one is going to tell you that their way is the only way or the best way. In the fire service we know that there are often many ways to accomplish the same task. Mentors are there to listen and to share knowledge and experiences in a confidential setting.
With these thoughts in mind, the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association, under the direc-
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tion of President Anthony Correia has made the establishment of a mentoring program one of its major goals for the coming year. A committee began discussing this program and their visions and goals for it several months ago and we are now ready to begin our rollout of this benefit to our members. It is hoped that new chiefs and officers as well as those aspiring to these positions will take advantage of this no-cost benefit for themselves either as mentors or mentees. Our program is 100% confidential and voluntary. It is a self-paced program that will pair you with a trusted advisor who is there for you to help you develop increased skills and self-confidence by sharing experiences and helping to find solutions to those sometimes-tricky scenarios that confront us. On a technical level you will find mentors who are experts in the domains of the fire service whose brains you can pick for answers. Mentors are available who possess special knowledge as well in all areas of the fire service. Reach out and we will pair you up with one who meets your needs and who you are comfortable with.
Those wishing to be mentored, those who want to be a mentor, or those just wanting to
know more about the program are urged to reach out to me, Chief Robert Morris, 732-232-1061 or at . I will then begin to quickly connect you with someone who is willing and able to help you grow your skills and expertise. That is it. The mentor and mentee will take it from there.
So much has been written about the positive benefits of mentoring. My interest in mentoring began with the passion for mentoring of my first fire service mentor, Dr. Harry Carter, at Ocean County College in the late 1970s. Chief Carter continued to write and speak on the importance of this topic for the rest of his life. My doctoral dissertation on mentoring in the fire service was dedicated to Dr. Carter and is now the focus on my remaining time in the fire service. Please reach out to me so that we can discuss the program and pair you up with another to really make a long-term difference in your life and career both in and out of the fire service. We really want this program to be successful and helping to chief officers and others and to truly cement futures and legacies.
Chief Robert Morris
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