National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Command Presence


Leaders often face difficult problems for which there are no simple, clear-cut, by-the-book solutions. In these situations, leaders must use their knowledge, skill, experience, education, values, and judgment to make decisions and take or direct action. Command presence is one element of a leader’s effectiveness.

Command presence is the way leaders present themselves to others. More than anything else, the leader’s command presence sets the tone for the command climate within an organization. Command climate refers to the environment within the influence of a particular leader. A good command climate is characterized by open communication, mutual trust and respect, freedom to raise issues and engage in debate, clear and attainable goals, and teamwork.

Character is the foundation of command presence. Leaders reveal their character in every interaction. Leaders must display a combination of personal attributes and behaviors that communicate to others that they are worthy of trust and respect.

Demeanor is another component of command presence that speaks volumes to others. Poise and self-assurance play a large part in your ability as a leader to influence the actions of others.

Fire leaders take charge when in charge, lead from the front, and act decisively in order to inspire confidence among team members. In times of crisis, a leader’s command presence can be the critical factor in determining whether a team succumbs to pressures and dangers, or stays focused, seizing an opportunity to overcome and succeed.


Discussion Points

  • Can you think of a leader with strong command presence? What were some of the behaviors that they exhibited?
  • Does command presence look different for different situations? Explain.
  • How do we develop command presence?
  • Is command presence reflected in the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders?


Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2021

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