Leadership is more than a title.
Someone can be put in charge, appointed or elected, but it takes a little something more to become a ‘Leader’.
On firefighting crews, I had some great leaders, who inspired me to push myself physically and mentally and some who left a little wanting.
When I became a crew leader myself, I struggled to work on the necessary skills and attributes to become a leader nervous rookies would follow into the fire — literally.
One of the hardest parts of being a leader was making choices I knew would disappoint one of my crew members — and there were a lot of these to make.
Who had to stay with me and start carrying gear into the fire while the other one went back with the helicopter for gear?
Who got to run the chainsaw? Who got to drive the fire truck?
Okay, not really hard decisions, but it could sometimes be a tough call for me to try and be as fair as possible and not favour any one person.
But the decisions had to be made, and it was my job to do it, and I learned to not worry as much about people’s feelings, but instead to focus on the job, make decisions and be open to suggestions on improving my decisions when appropriate.
Leading a community is a huge step up from this, it takes making some tough decisions which are sure to displease some people, but decisions have to be made, or a community can not move forward.
Leading a community takes a lot of commitment and perseverance, to continue on and push for what you believe is right or what those you lead want, which hopefully coincide.
But of course, the two will not always coincide, and as a leader choices will have to be made in order to work towards societal goals.
Last week, Fort St. James District Council showed clear leadership by moving to register as government participants in the government’s Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel process.
While it would have been easy for them to sit back and let the process play out without them, they responded to the community and agreed to register.
The council has so far not come out with a position for or against the pipeline, but it only makes sense, either way, to at least engage in the process and have their questions answered and concerns addressed by an independent party, especially given the potential impacts of such a huge project.
This is the move of a leader, and with some vision, hopefully other councils along the proposed pipeline will also get involved, and do what they were elected to do — lead.