Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jul 2021


Leaders create teams by building a foundation of trust. Trust is the underpinning of all cohesive teams; without it, teams are merely collections of individuals that can never hope to achieve synergy.

Recognizing that communication is the key to building trust, we communicate openly with teams and make sure we convey the essence of our values, mission, and vision. In doing so, we also communicate information about ourselves because our teams must, first and foremost, trust us.

Unlike respect, which may be inherently offered due to an individual’s position or stature in the organization, trust for an individual must be earned and offered in faith. Leaders earn the trust of others in many ways, but primarily through their actions and it is reinforced over time.

Trust is delicate, and like most delicate things it must be cared for. As trust may be earned, it may also be lost. All leaders, especially emerging leaders, must be aware the erosion or loss of trust occurs at a much faster rate than it took to earn it. Once the leader has damaged or lost the trust of those they lead, it can be daunting to regain the trust once held.

Discussion Points:

  • What is trust?
  • Why is trust one of the rarest leadership characteristics?
  • How can trust influence safety on the fireline?
  • What is the relationship between trust and vulnerability?
  • What characteristics encourage you to trust someone?
  • Does trustworthiness alone make someone a leader?
  • What can be done to regain trust once it has been damaged or lost?


Review "Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni 



Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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