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Leadership Traits of Business Leaders | Fire station

Being a good business leader is not an easy task. Besides, being a leader, period, is not an easy task.

What are the traits that lend themselves to making a good business owner and leader? This issue has been discussed around the fire station dinner table ever since there have been fire station dinner tables.

Knowledge beyond the fire department

Reading your work is vital. It allows leaders and potential leaders to broaden their horizons on how to up their game in their profession.

Many of us enjoy reading books on firefighting, but sometimes we overlook the great books which, although not directly related to firefighting, give wonderful insights into how we can improve and how we can improve our organizations. Enter Admiral Eugene Fluckey.

Fluckey was a highly decorated submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient during World War II while commanding the USS Barb. He wrote “Thunder Below!” to tell the story of the USS Barb and her crew during the war. The book is a great read simply for the history of the exploits and actions of the submarine’s crew. However, a deeper reading of the book reveals great examples of how leaders and business leaders can effectively lead their organization to excellence.

The following is an overview of the leadership traits that were exhibited by Fluckey while serving on the USS Barb.

Trust in people

Fluckey had the utmost confidence in the skills and abilities of all his crew members. Due to the nature of being confined together inside a steel tube, it was paramount that the crew members worked and got along with each other. Fluckey required all crew members to learn all aspects of underwater life. The result was a well-trained and cohesive team that had skill and depth.

A fire company is really no different. Good business leaders have confidence in the skills and abilities of their crew members. They have this confidence because officers have trained their crews to perform when needed.

Critical mind

Good business leaders must have the ability to be a critical thinker. It is difficult to quickly enter important data, mentally process it quickly, analyze possible outcomes, and then choose the best possible outcome. Whether it’s quickly planning a torpedo attack on an enemy vessel or an incident course of action on an ongoing residential fire, good leaders must possess the ability to think critically. This skill is developed through training and experience.

creative thinking

Sometimes successfully completing an assigned task requires “outside the box” thinking.

Towards the end of World War II, Japanese target ships were very few. To continue his mission, Fluckey and his crew came up with the idea of ​​launching rockets from the submarine at targets that were on land. Some said it couldn’t be done, but the USS Barb did. Now the practice is commonplace in navies around the world.

Company leaders must possess and encourage creative thinking. When a fire department connection is not working, what workarounds can be attempted to complete the mission? When a particular rescue presents itself, how can it be accomplished safely and successfully?


A very thin line exists between pushing the limit and going too far. Fluckey was known as someone who went out of his way to complete a mission. However, one thing he was very sure of was the skill and capabilities of his ship and crew. That said, several World War II submarine commanders were also known for their daring exploits, and they paid for it with the loss of their boat and crew.

Company leaders need to understand that being fearless doesn’t mean being reckless. Know your mission, know your job, know your crews and know your enemy.


A good sense of humor goes a long way towards developing officer-crew relationships. Fluckey was known to have a good sense of humor.

Humor can be used to break up tension and ease fears. No one is made of granite. Everyone needs a break from the constant pressure. The fire department is known for pranks and the like (in good taste). A good officer knows when and when not to inject humor.


When bullets are flying or depth charges are exploding all around you, it’s important to keep your head clear and focused on the mission.

The officer is the key to the crew. As the officer goes, so goes the crew. When stress accumulates, the temptation to lose control also increases. Good business leaders, through training and experience, can become imperturbable. A company officer will not be faced with navigating a submarine through torpedo wakes aimed at you, but you will be faced with equally dangerous scenarios at fire and emergency scenes that require you to to be just as unfazed.


A wonderful story in “Thunder Below!” deals with how Fluckey placed great responsibility on his crew members (including himself) and at the same time showed great faith in them. He knew everyone had to work together to get everyone home alive. Anyone not up to the task could be sent off the boat elsewhere when in port. However, once on patrol, the dice were cast.

As the boat left Midway Island on patrol for Japan, Fluckey, standing on the conning tower in his dress officer’s uniform in full view of most of the crew, brandished the Navy Rules Manual and threw him overboard. He said they wouldn’t need it where they were going. Everyone on board knew that not working together and doing the right thing could get them all killed.

Once underway, Fluckey asked a crew member to bring him his shorts and flip flops. He undressed quickly (there wasn’t a woman within a hundred miles) and put on the shorts and flip flops. It was the signal that everyone on the boat was about to go to work and everyone was counting on everyone.

Inspirational leadership is highly contagious. People like to work for bosses who inspire them to improve. The USS Barb was so successful because all the crew members did their job to the end. The citizens of your community deserve this kind of commitment.


Knowing and understanding the people who work for you is an essential, and sometimes difficult, part of being a business leader.

Living in a submarine and living in a fire station have several things in common. The first is that it provides many opportunities for officers to get to know their crews and their problems, good and bad.

A member of Fluckey’s crew had a problem at home which the captain was asked to advise on. Fluckey offered to personally write a letter to the crew member to deal with the situation. Experiences like this endear officers to their crew members.

Have compassion for the people who work for you. When people know you care, their actions toward you and your goals can improve.

Enthusiasm and perseverance

We chose to pursue a great career. Most people start their fire service career with great enthusiasm, but keeping the fire burning can be difficult. Good business leaders maintain their enthusiasm and persist in achieving their goals.

Fluckey and the crew of the USS Barb were very successful due to the enthusiasm and perseverance they put into all of their missions.

Again, the communities we serve deserve firefighters and company officers who are enthusiastic and persistent when called upon to act. Enthusiasm and perseverance can make the difference between success and failure in a very dangerous job.

Celebrate Success

In a dangerous business, the pressure to perform – and to survive – is great. When good things happen, it’s important to let your employees know they did a good job.

Fluckey was very good at “splicing the main hug,” in naval parlance: he celebrated successes. Every time the USS Barb sank a ship, when it was safe to do so, he would ask the kitchen to bake a special cake for the occasion, and the whole crew would celebrate. Everyone contributed to the success of the boat, and he made it a point to make sure they knew how important they were to the success of the mission.

Everyone likes to get a pat on the back once in a while. When someone deserves recognition, give it to them. The celebration does not need to be elaborate. A little could go a long way. Going the extra mile for your workers also helps to strengthen the bonds within the group.