There’s a Headless Horseman in the Department!

Do you have a Headless Horseman of the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department in your organization?

  • Does this individual ride around holding their head in the palm of their hand, terrorizing all those that he or she meets?
  • Are they constantly looking for everything that is wrong?
  • Do these individuals believe they have the answer to all the departmental problems?

The organizational monster

Although Halloween has passed for 2023, there are many Headless Horsemen (and women) roaming through the fire departments of the world. We can also include other organizations such as business, non-profits, and various government entities (elected, appointed, and hired employees).

In addition to the Headless Horseman, there are other ghastly characters lurking and slinking around the workplace stirring discontent, creating strife, and generating an environment that people hate.

In my book The Furnace of Leadership Development, I wrote “unfortunately monsters exist in many organizations. All too often they are created and fed by the very people who employ them.”1

The breeding ground for monsters

Who are these people and why do they exist? The answer to this question often begins with the hiring process.

  • What type of person are you looking for?
  • How do you screen and interview applicants to get the right individual for the department?
  • Will the new hire be productive or counterproductive?

Yes, the interview process can be painful, and it is the breeding ground for the organizational monsters because it is the first entry step into the department.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

There are applicants who look good on paper and after reading their resumé you wonder why they have not been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During an interview, these people may mesmerize those serving on the hiring panel. Be careful and ask thought provoking questions that not only determine technical competence and proficiency but ask questions that root out character issues as well.

The adage of pay now or pay later comes into play beginning with the interviews. Someone may look good on paper, and they may have their answers down pat during the interview, but wisdom and discernment must be exercised. Once a person lacking character is hired it is only a matter of time until problems surface.

During their probationary period, these monsters will be on their best behavior. But watch out! Once the sun sets on their probation, the fangs will come out.

Learning more about organizational monsters

You may learn more about organizational monsters by reading my book The Furnace of Leadership Development available through Amazon in print or eBook format at The Furnace of Leadership Development: How… by Davis, Rick (

Also, visit my website at to learn how I can help develop the personnel in your department.

1Davis, Richard W., The Furnace of Leadership Development (Loveland, CO: Java House Publishing, 2019), 37

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