Reflections from Emerging Leaders Academy Graduate: Mark Lopez

Comments Delivered By Mark Lopez, Firefighter/EMT, Shawnee Fire Department
On January 16, 2015

The word “leadership” has always been a fascinating word to me. It seems that if you ask a hundred people what leadership is, you’ll receive a hundred and ten very different answers – of which none are wrong! I’ve long wondered if leadership is truly a born character trait or if it actually CAN BE developed and mastered! I’ve been extremely fortunate in both my military and fire service careers to have the opportunity to observe VERY diverse leadership styles. I’ve always tried to notice which ONE leadership style and which ONE personal attribute tends to be the most effective so that I can emulate “that style” in order to be successful.

The truth is, there wasn’t a single style that I felt would fit every situation, and, more importantly, that wouldn’t require me to put on a guise. To be honest, it was extremely discouraging! How in the world do I learn to be a leader if I can’t “ACT” like a leader?

In the Emerging Leaders Academy, I learned a priceless lesson. Through the various classroom exercises, reading material, videos, presentations, personal reflection, and the insight and perspective from the instructors and speed coaches, I realized, surprise surprise, it’s NOT one single leadership style or one single personality trait that makes a strong and effective leader. By tapping into and embracing what is already inside: compassion, empathy, and trust, and by believing that every single person is capable of greatness – you just have to unleash their potential, that I’ve come to trust in myself as a next generation leader. A leader who will successfully lead men and women through not only the good times, but also, the bad times. And even through the bad times, I’ll lead with absolute confidence and stoicism.

Thank you.