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Leaderless Group

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  • Leaderless Group

    I am preparing for an upcoming promotional exam (LT). One of the assignments in the assessment center is a "Leaderless Group" excecise. (It usually involves preparing a public education demonstration.) Everybody that I speak with seems to have different advice on how to perform in this arena. Some say to lay back and take a "supportive" role, some say to "take the lead" and some say to play it in between.

    My natural tendency when placed in a group setting is to be the leader. I feel some of my strengths are my natural leadership ability and organizational skills. It would be difficult for me to lay back and let somebody else run everything (especially if they are not organized).

    I guess that I have a few questions:
    - What is the purpose of the leaderless group excercise?
    - What criteria is being used to evaluate the individuals?
    - Does the group need a leader or can you just get through it as a team?

    I have researched some web-sites, and have found some information (from civilian sources). How does this scenario play out within the structure of a Fire Department Assessment Center?

    Thanks- SWARMIE

  • #2
    I have been involved in a few of these exercises, both as a player and as an evaluator. The most sucessful candidates played the role of facilitator to the 2 or 3 guys that were trying to be in charge. This is testing a different leadership approach than incident command

    In my opinion, the ability to get people with different points of view and management styles to agree on a common goal, agenda, or plan of action is a better leadership trait then the bull in the china shop who HAS to be in charge, no mater what.

    Unless you are in a very busy fire company, most of your leadership consists of non-emergency situations where, usually, a collaborative approach works.
    Last edited by KenNFD1219; 08-12-2006, 04:01 PM.
    "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
    Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.


    • #3
      I was involved in one of these exercises about 10, or 12 years ago.

      I agree that the role of the leader is preferable to a listener/contributer role. The key to a successful (leadership role) evaluation in one of these scenarios is to (quickly, given the limited time allowed) organize, delegate and mediate/ officiate the discussion, while still being able to contribute some input into the discussion itself.

      The other role in the scenario that can be closely scrutinized is that of the "scribe" or secretary/note taker. Again, being able to quickly organize and relay clearly and concisely, the thoughts of the group onto paper is a good way to demonstrate your organizational skills and abilities.

      Practice with a few of your co-workers and try to get a feel for how you might go about it in the actual assessment.

      Good luck!

      Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
      IAFF Local 2339
      K of C 4th Degree
      Member I.A.C.O.J.
      "Fir na tine"


      • #4
        The Leaderless Group is generally not used in the promotional process because it is hard to score and it takes a lot of evaluators to rate the event.

        Here’s how it works:

        You are placed in a room with your competition (usually no more than 8), you are given a topic and you are supposed to come up with a consensus of how to solve the problem or what recommendation to make as a group.

        The “power” positions are the Leader, the scribe and the time keeper. I would strive to get one of the above. While you may be successful in being the leader, you actually lose points if you are too aggressive about becoming any of the above positions. Remember this is an exercise to see how well you perform in a group setting, not if you can bully your way to the top.

        Another way to elicit points it to identify someone who has not been an active participant and say, “Fred, we haven’t heard from you, what are your thoughts?” Here you have identified someone who has not been active and drawn him into the discussion. Also, since he is your coworker, you have helped him do better on the exam (it’s important to note that when the process is done and the list is out you still all work together).

        The topics will generally be something related to the “hot” topics revolving around your department and the fire service in general.

        My Captain’s topic was:

        The department is experiencing a budget shortfall and is looking into a BLS ambulance transport program. As a committee, determine what is needed to begin a successful program. How many ambulances would we need and how would the program work.

        Since the department truly was having a budget deficit, I had researched the topic long before the leaderless group by visiting a neighboring department. I was pretty comfortable with the topic.

        Other topics could include:

        • We have UASI money totaling $250K how should we spend it?
        • We have $1 million dollars. Should we put it toward staffing a Haz Mat team or put it toward enhancing the fire stations?
        • How can we increase our Affirmative Action goals?
        • What can we do to increase the success rate of our entry level academy?
        • The department is looking to add paramedics to the fire department. What is the recommendation of the committee?

        As you can see the topics are endless. I would encourage you to read as many articles and websites that you can to stay up on current events. Good luck in the process.

        Paul Lepore
        Battalion Chief
        Paul Lepore
        Battalion Chief


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