National Wildfire Coordinating Group

2021 WOR Day 4: Leadership Level 3 Leader of People (Develop Intent)

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Leadership Level 3 Leader of People (Develop Intent)

Leaders of people accept responsibility, not only for their own actions, but for those of their team. Leaders of people act to develop credibility as leaders: placing the team ahead of themselves, demonstrating trustworthiness, mastering essential technical skills, and instilling the values of the organization in their teams.

Key elements related to operating at the Leader of People level

  • Develops credibility and reputation to increase one’s personal sphere of influence.
  • Quickly assembles and leads a cohesive team to accomplish mission objectives.
  • Demonstrates direct statements, active listening and messaging, confirmation, and allows effective feedback.
  • Applies an appropriate leadership style (directing, delegating, or participatory) for a given team and situation to develop team members and increase team cohesion.

Who in your group is currently at Leadership Level 3?

Thirtymile Fire – July 10th, Entrapment and Shelter Deployment

Watch Learning from the Thirtymile Fire video from 57:12 to 1:19:00 minutes

With their escape route blocked and with input from air attack, the Crew Boss evaluated locations as they moved up the road, looking for a place to ride out the fire with as much safety as possible. They ultimately selected an area with a large rock scree above the road and a sandbar in the river below the road. Air attack suggested they stay close to the road. Most of the crew remained on the road near the van, while six crew members moved into the rocks above the road.

By 1700 the fire was estimated to be more than 500 acres and moving up the east side of the canyon toward the crew. Around this time, two members of the public showed up from the campground at the end of the road. Fire behavior increased dramatically and at approximately 1724, fire reached the area, and the crew was directed to get their shelters out to protect themselves from ash and falling embers—and soon after, to deploy their shelters on the road. With the roar of the fire in their ears it’s unclear how many heard this direction.

The group of six in the rocks deployed their shelters in a tight cluster 100 feet above the road surrounded by 1 to 3-foot-size boulders. After the first few minutes, one of the people in the rocks, deciding he would have better conditions in the river, exited his shelter, and moved into the river. A second person in the rocks—who didn’t have gloves and could not hold the shelter down—also exited their shelter and got in the van, which had very little fire damage.

Everyone else stayed in their shelters, including the two members of the public who both got into a single shelter with one of the firefighters on the road.

A purple ribbon symbolizing remembrance of those who have passed away.Discussion Questions:

Use the events described above and your experience to answer:

  • What is a sphere of influence? How is it built? How does this differ from formal chain of command?
  • What are the challenges of quickly assembling and leading a cohesive team? What strategies have you employed to deal with these challenges?
  • How does a leader decide what style (directing, delegating, participatory) is appropriate? How do you, as a follower, adapt to your leaders’ style?
  • How can a leader encourage their followers to speak up and contribute to the good of the crew even when using a directing leadership style? How does a follower do so when their thoughts or observations contradict their leader?


Today, put learning into practice by conducting a realistic fire shelter drill.


Week of Remembrance
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2023

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