Personal Responsibilities to Self and Others

- November 2020 -

Written By: Bill Pierce

As we move our discussions from personal leadership to teamwork I want to discuss our personal responsibilities to ourselves, our co-workers, the NPS, our neighbors and the public.

General Colin Powell’s rule for picking good team members - “Look for intelligence and judgement and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.”

We can be excellent team members at our worksite (and other locations as well) by focusing on these personal leadership traits:

  1. Communications- listen, ask questions, study issues and participate in finding the best strategies and tactics to achieve the agreed upon goals. This is the key to Operational Leadership and worksite safety. Do not assume that everyone understands the task and knows how to accomplish safely and efficiently. A classic example of mis communication happened to me in Great Smokies when we had a plane crash that we were trying to locate. The first helicopter found the plane and dropped an EMT off to assess the victims of the crash. We had set up a code so that we would know how many fatalities and how many survivors we had without the media (who were monitoring our radio frequencies) from getting that information. The number of sleeping bags the EMT ordered were the number of fatalities and the number of canteens was the number of survivors. I was to go up on the next helicopter but before we launched the other helicopter crashed on the other side of the ridge. The EMT stated he needed 4 1/2 sleeping bags (the plane had 5 occupants). I assumed there were four dead and one near death so I started towards the plane from the landing spot. But I met the EMT coming up the hill and he told me he could only find half of one person and there were no survivors. We turned around and headed for the helicopter crash site but had lost valuable time by not using clear text and making sure we understood the message.
  2. Worksite Team Building - Everyone should do their part to build excellent teamwork at the worksite. Anticipate the needs of other members, provide leadership when it is needed and good followership when it is needed. Remember that stepping up to be the first follower is just as important as stepping up to be a leader when needed.
  3. Respect Everyone at the Worksite - Know and respect the different values, cultures, ideas and opinions of the members and support them in their growth and participation in the team.
  4. Help develop and accomplish the mission, goals, strategies and tactics at the worksite - so that the best alternatives are selected and implemented to accomplish the tasks.
  5. Know the Worksite Responsibilities, Authorities and Constraints - Identify the sidelines so that you can reach the goal line safely and with the whole team participating. This might include the Park GMP, laws and directives that apply to your area, plans, etc.
  6. Develop and Maintain a Network outside of the Worksite - Communicating with other Parks and individuals that have similar tasks and goals and developing friendships can save time and mistakes as you tackle new tasks at the worksite.
  7. Do Your Job and do it with Excellence - You may not like the coach of the New England Patriots but his expectations make sense for a football team and for a worksite.

As we transition from personal leadership to teamwork I want to close our discussions on personal responsibilities with these:

  1. To Yourself - Focus on your mental and physical well being, maintain a balance in life and validate your core values on a regular basis. Then you will be able to maintain good relationships, set your goals and keep learning on your journey.
  2. To your Team (at home, at work and elsewhere) - provide leadership, followership and participate in establishing groundrules, standards and goals for each of your teams.
  3. To the Resources - Learn the cultural and natural resources in your area and speak for them. Get out and experience them as often as you can and encourage others to do so as well. At Redwoods we had a monthly hike with the Superintendent that everyone was encouraged to join and it was a great way for folks from different worksites to experience the resource and get to know one another.
  4. To the Neighbors - Nadine and I always went to a new area with the plan to stay there the rest of our lives. We got involved in local groups, issues and friendships and supported the people and concerns of the local community.
  5. To the Public - Provide the best professional service to each visitor and tell the stories of the resources and the NPS so that they enjoy their time in the Park and support the NPS when they go home.

Next time we will begin our journey on Teamwork and as you will see it all ties back to our personal leadership. Please let me hear from you with your thoughts!

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