Jim Afremow and Phil White have written an arresting book that explores the character traits and values that enable – or drive – people to become leaders. Their case histories of those who rose to leadership range widely from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius to district fire management officer Nick Peters. The book includes the leadership journeys of Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Kind company founder Daniel Lubetzky and pilot Tammie Jo Shults. She was the captain of a New York to Dallas flight when engine failure led to fuselage damage and loss of cabin pressure. Shults successfully landed the plane. That’s the leader you want at the helm.
Fire management officer Nick Peters credits the resilience of the US Forest Service to its values: “duty, integrity and respect.”
Nick Peters works as the district fire management officer in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Northern Georgia. He leads teams across 305,000 acres. Peters began working in forestry because he wanted adventure. Peters has to work with sudden wildfires that could start with a lightning bolt or an ember someone carelessly discards from a grill or fireplace.
Members of the US Forest Service tend to move from one job to another. While such a working pattern can keep things fresh and exciting, it also can lead to stress. Leaders need to deal with the possibility of discord. Peters emphasizes that communication can be vital.
Peters suggests that human beings construct stress. People can control some elements and not others. Managing teams of firefighters can prove exhausting. Peters stays with firefighters working in the field. In one recent fire, Peters says he had to change plans constantly because of shifts in the weather. After that experience, he did not want to make any more decisions once he got...