Category Archives: Leadership

The Epitome of A Leader – Community Leader Interview Project

Remo Faedo Port Moody Fire Chief, Photo Credit Lisa King

For my leadership community leader interview I wanted to find someone who I was personally inspired by and look up to, or admire what they do. I considered a couple of options but after some thought I decided to pursue the Fire Chief of my home city, Port Moody. I did some research and identified that the current acting chief is Remo Faedo. I found the non-emergency phone number to contact the number one fire hall. After some phone tag and a few calls with the secretary at the main station I was able to set up a time to meet with Remo Faedo. It was an honour to be able to sit down and talk with him about some of the special and important things he and his team do in the community. I chose Remo because I really appreciate the work that fire fighters do in the community and at the top of it all is the chief. The chief of this organization needs to be an undeniably strong and fearless leader in dealing with all the different extensions of problems and events that fire fighters deal with daily. Overall, I felt that these were some of the most important qualities of a good leader and so I thought this would be a very valuable interview. I tried to focus on some of those things that I felt made him a good leader in the interview and really identify what the qualities are that make fire fighters such amazing people and leaders in general. As I talked to him, I understood more about some of these qualities.

Remo Faedo told me, when asked about any awards he has received over the years, that he has received awards from the city as well as both the provincial and federal governments. “The BC award is a service award,” which recognizes Faedo for 20 years of service, “and the exemplary award comes from the federal government.” The federal award, he told me, recognizes him for 25 years of exemplary service. “The city is typical years of service awards.” He also told me. Clearly from these measures I could see that Faedo has put in his fair share of work to get to where he is now and has dedicated a very significant amount of effort to his duty. He has also been involved in the work for a very long time.

Remo earlier explained to me how he first started out “wanting to do something for my community.” He began as a volunteer fire fighter in October of ’89 and “had the skill set and aptitude to become a volunteer fire fighter,” and “felt that that would be much more exciting than any other volunteer work the city could offer”. He then “became a career fire fighter in July of ’93, from which point he moved up to deputy chief in November of 2007 and he  made the final step to Fire Chief in July of 2009. In terms of training, experience was all he needed, and so as you can tell by his awards, he has worked hard to gain that. He did however take various courses, both fire related and some business related, as well in order to develop the knowledge side of things for his job. He has also been involved in some education programs over the years related to the fire service. All of this “put me in a position where I was able to apply for the fire chief job and be successful.” Nonetheless, he pointed out, the most important part was the on-job experience, “You can’t overlook experience.” he told me.

The most rewarding parts of the job, awards in the form of recognition you might say, are not those of the above mentioned sort he continued. “The ones that really impact you are the ones where you get cards or you get people that drop by that thank you for saving their life.” “Those are the most rewarding awards that you could get…that’s what drives us really more than anything else.” This is where I believe the work that Faedo, among his fellow fire fighters, has done and do is truly amazing. In terms of accomplishments and achievements you really cannot go farther than saving a person’s life, and that is what he and his co-workers strive to do every day.

He described to me a call the crew recently responded to at an apartment building on Clarke Road. I had heard of this fire as it had been on many news sources and was a big fire for Port Moody. Faedo said “It was an exceptional save by our crew, and I was very proud of our fire fighters and the work they accomplished.” Thinking about it, it is quite remarkable to hear the inside, which most people don’t usually hear, and really see how much work and effort goes into that fire we saw on the news. A fire where no one was killed and it appeared to be a situation that had been handled under control, but not for the  exceptional work of those fire fighters, it might have been a different news story.

But not only is the work Faedo and his team do post-emergency, no, Remo was very sure to include that it is a total strive to maintain a safe community for everyone. This includes preventative action to help stop injuries and fires before they happen, as he told me, “Anything predictable is preventable.”

Something else that I asked the Fire Chief about was the new fire hall that was finished just this year in Port Moody after what appeared as many years of need of repair and replacement. He was happy to tell me how “I was involved in the entire process, so for me it was really quite rewarding to have this built during my ten year’s fire chief.” After it had been “about a ten year process from when we identified the need to when we moved in.” He continued to say how “the building turned out wonderfully” and because of its “high profile location in the community” “we spend a little bit of time and effort and money to make it look nice.” This was also clearly something that was a big accomplishment for not only Remo Faedo but also the whole fire staff at the fire hall and is something that they take pride in now. I personally was impressed by the building from the inside, as I have been of the outside since it was built. It certainly makes me proud of our fire fighters when I see it and I think it is something that is very important to making them proud of what they do as it is such a key part of their life and work.

There are many things that point to exceptional qualities about Fire Chief Remo Faedo, from his many years of service and dedication to helping others, to his embodiment of the whole organization. I think to describe him as a leader, for me, first of all, his job is putting himself in danger in  order to save the lives of people who he most likely does not know. I think that that alone is an act of true leadership where he is not only putting others before himself but also going beyond what is asked of any regular person. It’s not expected that you will run into a burning building filled with smoke, not knowing what to expect when you get inside, and yet, that is exactly what fire fighters do. And all of those fire fighters, are led by the chief.

A chief who showed commitment and support of his team when he fought for a space that would put them in better health and comfort so they can focus on what they do. A chief who has dedicated much of his life to giving back to ordinary people. A chief, who like any other, has learned to overcome challenges and problem solve. Though he told me that he has not had any major obstacles throughout his career he said “the most difficult part of the job is dealing with people…everybody sees things differently and yet at the same time you have to work together.” He said this was probably his biggest challenge, “working with others in order to move forward as a department.” He mentioned the importance of how in this situation even if everyone didn’t get everything they wanted, everyone got something that they were happy with.” These are key pieces to any successful organization, and recognizing the value of these situations and outcomes is the sign of a good leader.

One of the most amazing things from the interview however, was when I asked the Fire Chief about what drives him to help people who he doesn’t know to this extent on a daily basis, and to commit so much of himself to doing so. I guess it wasn’t so much of a well thought out question in asking what drives you, but it was inspirational to hear him talk about how it is really something they specifically look for when hiring, and a trait that you need to excel in the job. That trait is, the drive and will to help others, and they look for a history of that in a person when hiring. It was in a sense moving just to feel that support as an average kid in the community that there are all of these amazing people who spend their lives, and would ultimately risk their lives to save yours. I know that’s something that I probably already knew factually, but I do find it quite empowering to see that organization first-hand, what these people can do with their own two hands.

I think these traits fairly speak for themselves as to why not only Remo Faedo but also all fire fighters are very effective community leaders. They are ones who will step up in times of trouble when everyone else is running away. They cooperate as a team to solve life-threatening problems on the fly. And they ultimately risk it all putting others’ lives before their own. I believe Remo is an effective community leader because he sets the example for all of these fire fighters and leads the way. He is the one inspiring them day-to-day and leading by example in the effort he has put towards the job.

For these qualities I find the fire chief very inspiring and it certainly makes me want to do my part in the community, even just with little things, of giving back, seeing all that he does to help others.

Oh, did I mention that not only does the fire hall put out the usual fire fighting duties, but also many charitable fundraisers where virtually every penny of what is raised goes directly to charities including the Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation, the BC Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, and the Crossroads Hospice Society. The fire chief informed me of how “we raise upwards to $50,000 a year that we give to charity”. These events, such as the annual pancake breakfast, are put on by fire fighters in their spare time and also serve as community development functions where the community can come together in one place and share a good time. He said these events are “pretty special” because of how everyone comes together for a good cause and the positive affect they bring. He explained how “I was heavily involved in that when I was a fire fighter and I found that to be really rewarding.”

Overall, I think we can agree that Mr. Faedo does enough good in the community to cover about a thousand people, or more! I think these events are also a host ground for people to not only see what fire fighters do, but also become a part of something good giving back. These events are a direct act of inspiration for many people in the community, seeing what these men and women do for us, and wanting do to something for them but also for others.

Lastly, as the fire chief and I were discussing at a different point in the interview, “People appreciate the fire department most after they’ve needed their service”.  This was how I most directly came to appreciate what they do, seeing them respond and help someone who they have never met before, and this is how many people are also most thankful and inspired of what they do.

I will take many things away from this interview with the Port Moody Fire Chief, especially including a greater appreciation for the effort that these men and women put in to help us, average people, any people. I will also take away how giving back and helping others is such an empowering feeling, and how its important that everyone does their part to help themselves and others be safe everyday. Even small things can help, the important part is that you care. It was certainly very moving to see that entire organization as something that is real and not just a station of superheroes, and it really put it into perspective to see how much work is behind every call they respond to with such ease.

As a fun way to see how you feel about community leadership I have put together an online survey that I would love if you could complete! It’s just a few questions about what you think makes a good leader in an organization. Check it out in the link below:

Community Leader Survey!

Thank you very much for reading this post about a phenomenal local leader, and I hope you have a new understanding of the work that your local fire fighters do and how some of the things that they do make them such good leaders! If I may say so myself, I think that will save strangers at the risk of your own life, is the epitome of a good leader.

Leadership – Challenge Questions

Here are my answers to the questions on the leadership challenges discussed today in class:

Challenge 1; Tension:

How do you deal best with tension in a stressful situation?

For me, dealing with tension and stress involves assuring myself that ‘this will not kill me’. I have to realize that I am not the only one working on this project, and other people will get their jobs done too, and I don’t need to worry about the entire project, that’s the top leader’s job. Even so, if everyone does their role, then no one should have any extra stress, and I must be sure to trust my fellow committee members and that they will complete their assigned duties/tasks. I am not in charge of/responsible for the entire project, and “breath”, you will get through this.

Challenge 2; Frustration:

What should you do when you find yourself following a leader who is ineffective? How do you continue to add value?

Attack the problem head on, and don’t shy away from finding a solution. When you find yourself following an ineffective leader, it is important to work up to talking to that person face-to-face. This may mean developing a relationship, or beginning, more casually, at making suggestions or giving ideas on how the leader could improve the team’s success. You must also be sure to find the strengths and benefits of your leader and not only look to the shady side of the tree. Bring a positive attitude in the process of improving and affirming your leader, to help them trim those leaves in the way of the sun, you don’t want more leaves and bushes to grow, blocking even more sun; covering what might have even already been there.

Challenge 3; Multi-hat:

How can you determine what “hat” you need to wear in a given situation?

To determine what hat you must wear,  you can refer to your given position and any other roles given by your top leader. Be aware of what is going on around you in any situation so you can change or adapt to do your ‘role’ properly. You may also want to consider the positions of those around you and what role or hat they have in order to see where you may fit into the picture.

Challenge 4; Ego:

Do you tend to focus more energy on production or promotion?

I like to think that I have never been one to want to be the star of the show. That’s not saying that I’m not trying my hardest and putting forth my best effort, which may or may not lead me to be the best; “You’re always striving for excellence, striving for perfection” – Teresa Gabriele. But I was never one to hog the ball. I always tried to be selfless as a basketball player, and as an individual. I still do. I’m concious of my impact and effect on others and aware of how they may feel about my actions. I believe in giving your best effort in everything you do, results will come with effort, and effort comes from the inside; you shouldn’t be focused on the physical reward at the end of the road, but rather the sights along the way.

Challenge 5; Fulfillment:

List some of the advantages and disadvantages of being out front.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of being ‘out front’ or being the top leader. Some of the advantages include greater credit from the public or outsiders who are looking at your organization, and possibly, in situations, more control of a project or action. However, though the top may seem like a sugary position, there are certainly negatives to it as well. When one is the leader, they are also, as mentioned in the myths questions, most responsible for their entire organization. Their actions can have a greater impact on the organization as a whole, and they are also more prominently seen by the public. This means more exposure and more weight on their shoulders. It is important that a top leader be ready for their position and be confident and prided in their work.

Challenge 6; Vision:

How do you relate to and align yourself with your committee’s vision?

For me to understand and connect with the collective team’s goal, I need to gain sufficient information about what we are trying to achieve and understand the reasoning behind the team’s choices. As I understand the logic and values behind the goal, I will feel more inclined and ready to connect to the vision and support it. If I do not have enough information, then I may jump to conclusions about what we are trying to achieve or think of other possible routes that I agree with more. However through learning about the vision, and seeking first to understand, the knowledge will allow me to ‘relate to and align’ myself to the team’s vision and believe in it myself.

Challenge 7; Influence:

How do you consistently let the people on your team know that you care about them?

From a more ‘professional’ standpoint, it is important to show that you care about your colleagues by taking time to gain their insight and perspective on things. As a leader, I am sure to ask for other opinions and ideas for projects, initiatives, etc. before getting too far along. This very important to me, not only because I am showing care by taking some time to hear other voices, but also because this can be a very valuable resource for problem solving and finding what is best for all. It is also important to develop more personal relationships with those under you so they see that you are not solely someone who is a ‘technical’ figure and stands above you in the office, but rather that you are also a friend who you can talk to, and genuinely care about what is best for each individual.

Leadership – Myth Questions

Here are my answers to seven questions on the seven myths of leadership discussed today in class.

Myth 1;Position Myth: 

Discuss if people need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive?

People most certainly do not need to possess the top title to achieve more and help others, in fact, some of the lower positions have an even greater impact on others in the organization/committee. When an individual is at the highest position, they often become separated and less connected personally with those around them, they also likely spend less time with the others in their organization who work below them. Whereas, an average employee or committee member steps up and puts forth an outstanding effort, they can have a much more direct impact on those around them. For example, when a basketball player decides to possess a more positive attitude around their team-mates, ie. give high fives, encourage their fellow players, or call out suggestions/directions to help their team-mate on the court, it may have a stronger effect than that of the coach giving feedback, as the player is often more connected personally to their team-mates. Similarly, in an organizational basis, an individual who chooses to be focused, brings a positive energy to the work environment, and is willing to help fellow employees, may rub off on another like-employee more so than the top leader simply giving orders.

Myth 2: Destination Myth;

How do you become the person you desire to be?

I believe that in order to become the person you desire to be, which you may see as your best self, it is key to surround yourself with others whom you want to be more like and can look up to and feed off of. You will naturally become more like the people around you and you can also consciously learn and take note of what makes those people who they are. It is also key, in general, to surround yourself with people who you may believe are just stronger individuals or stronger as a person in whatever way you believe is important. Naturally you will strive to be more like them and grow to their level.

Myth 3; Influence Myth:

What prompts you to follow someone else?

For me, what prompts me to follow someone else, is simply when I believe in the same things as them or agree with their position. Even if it means going against the ‘status quo’ or questioning a higher leader, it is important to me to stand up for what I believe and fight for what is important to me. This is how I believe everyone should choose to follow others, we might be in very different situations on many issues if everyone did. Most importantly, when choosing to follow, you can’t choose to follow the ‘status quo’ or given order out of fear, when you disagree with it. You must be fearless and stand up for what you believe.

Myth 4; Inexperience Myth:

What makes a leader valuable to an organization/committee?

A strong leader not only speaks up for what they believe, but also seeks to understand those around them and see what the people want. It is important that a leader sees what is best for all and the organization/committee, even if it means going against the general consensus in certain situations. When they can be strong as an individual, be understanding of others(those under them) and pursue the best option for all, they are an incredibly valuable leader.

Myth 5; Freedom Myth:

Do you agree that when you move up in an organization, the weight of you responsibility increases? Explain.

I most certainly agree with that your responsibility increases as you position does. It says it right there. Your position is increasing so why wouldn’t your responsibility? As you move up in an organization you represent more and more people and positions/groups, so it becomes your responsibility to not only do yourself justice with your work but also everyone below you. You are also holding technical ‘control’ over the growing number of people working below you, to suitably do your job in ‘controlling’ them, you must be a more responsible person and if anything, lead by example.

Myth 6; Potential Myth: 

Eleanor Roosevelt said. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” How does that idea relate to allowing a title or position to limit your position?

First of all, I’d just like to say that I chose this question significantly because of the fact that it references a quote, and I love quotes, as I think you can learn great amounts of wisdom from them and their author’s past experiences. As for the question:

I believe this idea relates to a title limiting your position in that you must have a positive inner voice that believes in your best effort. That voice must also pride you in doing the best at your position and work, whatever role or title that may be. You must believe in yourself from the inside and not let things like titles get in the way of you being the best person you can be. Do not get down on yourself for simply having a lesser position, for you can be an even stronger leader in your position if you believe, and as one once said, the best leaders are never seen.

Myth 7; All-or-Nothing Myth:

The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean they should just give up leading altogether? Discuss.

Absolutely not! It is important not to define your life as being the ‘best’. There are other ways for one to find success in life, or in cases not even success, but rather happiness. The joy of life and leadership must come from inside, just as anything else, and if you truly love what you do, then it won’t matter what position you hold but rather that you are passionate about what you do and take pride in your every piece of work(physical, mental, actions). When one loves what they do and takes pride in the little things, they can lead from any position, and enjoy doing it. It is important, as previously stated, to not define your success as a number or title, but rather what you believe. If one chooses, they can become a leader in any role, and you can gain the respect of those around you. That is the mark off a true leader, understanding others and doing what they believe. If you can strive for your best every time/project/practice, and use the various leadership skills, you can truly lead from any position, and it shouldn’t matter your position.