Who is a leader inside the 9-1-1 Center? This question is one of the first I ask my students and their answers reveal a great deal about how they see themselves and their role in the Public Safety Community. I invite them (and you) to always answer this question with: everyone.
Quite frankly, the work that we do is too important to allow leadership to only be the job of a chosen few. After all, the first person that we are required to lead is ourselves. If we can't put the effort in to be the best Dispatcher we can be, to make the trek to work even when there are five feet of snow, or be professional with the caller or unit that we would like to throttle in the throat, well how can we ever hope to lead others?
Too often we think of leadership as some giant crazy task. Solving Global Warming; being elected to office; or being the modern incarnation of Patton that we fail to see how we can practice leadership in smaller ways. Given that most people never experience the world altering form of leadership (at least directly) those moments of smaller leadership are our best chance to demonstrate leadership and make at least a little part of the world a better place.
Think about this inside your center. Do you learn anything and everything you can? Do you take time out to support the new person? Or answer a question from the public that may take more time than you like? Do you go the extra mile to figure out exactly where the incident is? Or make sure you tell the oncoming shift supervisor everything they need to know?
These are just some of the many ways that you can choose to live leadership inside your agency. There are many others as well. But they all require you to accept that you are leader already. Are you a good leader or a bad leader? Do you build people up or tear people down? Is the shift better with you there? Or with you at home?
I strongly feel that with the nature of our profession and the types of people who find their way into our seats, there are no middle ground people. They are leading one way, or the other. If we had more people leading in the positive direction, I think that many of our issues with morale, workplace drama, and quality assurance would ebb. But the first step is to change what all of our sister and brother dispatchers see when they look in the mirror.
It can not be someone who thinks success starts with someone else, that a positive job environment is someone else's responsibility or that making things better is above their paygrade.
The truth is something much different. Success (or failure) start with you! And that makes you a leader whether you want to be or not.