(By Matthew R. Love)
Hello Beach Community!
I hope you are well and enjoying the season. As we continue to take care of our community in changing times, I shared a few thoughts with you back in September about leadership and accessibility. As a life-long student of community leadership, I can’t help but couple a few neat ideas with one of my other loves, amazing coffee. These “Coffee Stains” are the marks of leadership lessons learned through success and failure.
In September, the “Accessibility” Coffee Stain explored the power of community leadership and our ability to lead through being accessible. With the ongoing leadership hurtles we all face today, our newest “Coffee Stain” is about the environment we create for our community when they need us the most, and how we can adapt to that environment in times like these.
Coffee has become more than a trend, and certainly more than a morning drink. Over the years coffee has evolved into an activity, and even an excuse, to engage in relationships. So many times we hear the phrase, “let’s grab a cup of coffee”, or “how about we discuss this over a cup?” I have worked through many tough challenges over a cup, or maybe a pot (challenge level dependent)!
Frequently, as a relational gesture, I bring a cup of coffee when I meet with someone. On my way to a meeting, I run through one of my favorite FMB coffee spots and grab two cups of paradise. This gesture was always welcomed with great appreciation from those I met with. It also did a nice job of breaking the ice and demonstrating my commitment to them as well as my desire to spend deliberate and valuable time together.
This concept has not changed as I have become a Floridian, though the application needed some tweaking. After a time or two of showing up with two fresh cups of coffee, and receiving a different facial expression than I was expecting, I realized it was time to ask a few more questions. Come to find out, in addition to the customary questions of “cream or sugar?” in Florida a key determining factor that must be clarified is “hot or cold?”
Who knew that this new element to a classic drink would require a change in my operation based on my environment? Maybe the ninety-degree temperature and one-hundred percent humidity could have told me that, but I was blind to this alternative reality. Why was I blind? Why did this come as such a shock to me? My environment had changed, and I hadn’t asked the right questions to change with it.
There is no doubt that as a leader the answers don’t just end up on your doorstep, we have to get out there and find them. As our environment changes, which I am sure we all can relate to these days, we must have an open perspective to recognize change. We also must initiate information gathering in order to find out just how to change with our environment.
Some of the best leaders are also the best listeners, however, we must recognize when the need exists to stimulate the conversation. This may be the required leadership action to engage our community members, businesses, and teammates by initiating the information we need to keep up with the pace of progression, or even sustainment during the challenges we currently face. Environment is paramount in leadership and is ever changing. Asking questions and actively discovering information, rather than hoping it falls in our lap, is a strategic way to get what is needed to lead in uncertain times where things can be hot one minute and cold the next.
Thank you to all our community leaders out there. I applaud the amazing people we have leading each day in our businesses, government, and each and every neighborhood. Happy Holidays if I don’t see you in the coffee shop first!
Matt Love FMBFD Fire Chief
The Fort Myers Beach Fire Department can be contacted at (239) 590-4200, by email at Info@FMBFire.org, or visit us on the web at www.FMBFire.org.