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Flow-Based Leadership

Have you ever arrived on the scene of a house fire to find a frantic woman in the driveway? As a firefighter, you know instinctively what this means: there is a child inside. You immediately enter the zone, because you know what to do. This is based on your training and experience. The feeling of being in the zone, is referred to in the field of positive psychology as the flow. Multiple studies have shown that, if people have the proper training and experience, they will make better decisions in emerging situations while in a flow-state. How can your organisation help your people experience flow more often, thereby improving their decision-making? This book describes what flow is and what flow-based decision-making and flow-based leadership look like. It also details a flow-based leadership model for implementation, based on an extreme, experiential training program in the fire service called Georgia Smoke Diver (GSD). This model consists of: Leading by example. Communicating purpose. Committing to a stable infrastructure. Binding the group through ritual, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Honouring individual creativity to promote innovation. Using positive motivation techniques. Facilitating team flow. GSDs success and longevity is a result of rigorous commitment to this model that helps firefighters stay safe, ensure excellence, and live a life of well-being, both personally and professionally. It is a model any organisation can adopt to better the lives of the people within the organisation and the lives of the people the organisation serves.
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About the Author

Judith ("Judy") L. Glick-Smith, Ph.D., has been a communication expert, knowledge architect, and organizational development consultant since 1983. She is the founder of MentorFactor, Inc., which focuses on helping organizations facilitate flow-based work environments. Judy has been studying flow-based decision making and leadership in the fire service since 2007. Her Ph.D. is in Transformative Studies with a concentration in Integral Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has a Master of Science in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University. She lives in the Atlanta metro area with her two English Springer Spaniels and near her daughter and two granddaughters. You can reach her at


Whether youre in the fire service or not, this book provides incredible and truly unique insights into leadership, decision making, and creating exceptionally effective organizational cultures. A must read for anyone who is in a position where his or her decisions impact the work and the lives of others. Judiths writing ignites the imagination with stories that are inspiring, engaging, and deeply moving. You will walk away with a new appreciation for the importance of being in the flow and a simple but powerful framework for creating a meaningful and purpose-driven life. -- Thomas Koulopoulos, Chairman Delphi Group, Author The Gen Z Effect Dr. Judy (as she is fondly known in the fire service) has presented us with a uniquely insightful look at firefighter decision making, going beyond the traditional analytical and weaving the naturalistic with the possible. This is a roadmap for upcoming leaders in any organization in which decisions must be made in chaotic, uncertain and rapidly evolving situations. -- David M. Wall, Division Director, Georgia Fire Academy

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