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Self-study plan: Develop your cross-generation supervision skill sets

Resources, exercises and discussion points to enhance your leadership style and management skills



While this special coverage series provides a comprehensive look at supervision, leadership and management across generations, additional tools – even those related to more foundational principles – are always useful to help develop these skills. What’s more, they can help exercise the new skill sets and, ultimately, put them into practice.

The following self-study plan includes a variety of resources to first build upon skill sets for new fire officers, then identifies and expands upon the traits of successful fire officers, and finally tackles the sometimes-controversial topic of generational differences and how they can impact an officer’s supervisory duties.

Use the plan for yourself or share it with the new officers in your department to learn more about the impact of generational differences on leadership and followership.


Develop fire officer skill sets in the areas of management, leadership and supervision. Identify resources for personal and professional growth. Consider the impact of generational differences on supervisory roles and develop skills for leading across generations.

Part 1: Review new fire officer tips

Read “Welcome to the right front seat!” by Trevor Frodge, a lieutenant offering tips to fellow fire officers who are new to riding the front right seat.

Exercise: Walk yourself back through the promotional process or visualize when your future process. Ask yourself:

Part 2: Identify the roles of a great company officer

Listen to the podcast (or read) “4 roles of a great company officer” by Captain (ret.) Jim Spell.

Exercise: Jot down two examples of how you exemplify each role:

  • Decision-Maker
  • Pacifier
  • Instigator
  • Rectifier

Next, consider one example of a time a company officer did not exemplify these traits. What would you have done differently? What can you learn from that experience?

Finally, what roles you would add to the list? Share your roles in the comments under Spell’s article or take the discussion to the LinkedIn FireRescue1 Network page.

Part 3: Start a debate!

That’s right, bring your crew to the kitchen table for a lively discussion about generational differences in the fire service.

But first, familiarize yourself with the sides. Read these opinion pieces on FireRescue1 to get your wheels turning:

Discussion topics: Pose these questions – and other related questions – to the group to drive a healthy and production debate about generational differences in the fire service.

  • Are generational stereotypes a crutch or are the differences real?
  • Do you harbor negative feelings toward a particular group? Why? How can you find constructive ways to work with them?
  • What’s the best way to connect younger and older members who may have vastly different experience levels and opinions about what it means to be a firefighter?

Part 4: Test yourself

Test your knowledge of fire service supervisory and management skills. There are several ways to accomplish such a self-check.

Take a FireRescue1 Academy course. There are several applicable courses:

  • Fire Officer Leadership Skills
  • Firefighter Professional Development
  • Leader, Mentor, Coach
  • Personnel Management and Discipline
  • Preparing for Promotion

Quiz yourself: Take the FR1 quiz “How well do you know the newest firefighting generation?”

Download the PDF 5 ways to mentor rookies and teach them the love of the job.