2020 Wildland Fire National Leadership Campaign - Do You Know Who You Are?

2020 campaign banner - Do you know who you are


The theme for the 2020 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign is “Command Presence: Do you know who you are?”


The campaign is an opportunity for personnel at the local level - whether collectively or through self-development - to focus on leadership development activities relating to the national campaign theme.


  • To promote leadership development across the wildland fire community disciplines.
  • To provide an opportunity and resources that can be used for leadership development at the local unit level.
  • To collect innovative leadership development efforts and share those efforts across the community.

End State:

A culture that creates and shares innovative leadership development efforts in order to maintain superior leadership in the fire community.

Dates of Campaign:

Any time between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.


All wildland fire personnel - line-going and support.


The campaign is flexible. Local units or teams may use or adapt any or all materials found on this website or posted on our social media platforms or develop a program or activity of your own spotlighting the campaign theme. Campaign coordinators are encouraged to craft the campaign to the needs of the local unit and team. Innovation should fuel your campaign delivery: workshops or tailgate sessions, to kick off staff meetings, as a team activity or self-directed, etc.

2020 Campaign Activities

Challenge #1

  • In your leadership journal, define “command presence.”
  • Watch James Scouller’s “What is presence?” video.

Time: 8:43

Challenge #2

Challenge #3

Responding with "deliberate calm" is important during an emergency.

Challenge #4

Select a leader to monitor for a week.

  • In your journal, make note of things that add to or detract from his/her command presence.
    • Avoid the temptation to observe only detractions.

Challenge #5

Challenge #6

Leaders are readers.

  • Read Amy Cuddy’s book “Presence."
  • Take notes in your journal.

Challenge #7

Leaders with good command presence are calm and collected during stressful situations.

  • Research the concept of mindfulness.
  • Watch Daniel Goleman videos or read his books/articles on the subject.
  • Take notes in your journal.

Challenge #8

Command presence is deeper than charisma.

  • Watch James Scouller speak on the topic:
  • Take notes in your journal.

Challenge #9

Appearance affects command presence to a degree.

Challenge #10

Leaders with effective command presence are prepared and stay calm during chaos.

  • Ensure each team member’s contact information is up to date and readily available.
  • Conduct a pre-mortem drill to ensure notification processes work quickly and efficiently.

Challenge #11

Self-awareness is a critical and powerful first step in developing command presence.

  • Take the time to determine what you want your presence to convey.
  • Use your journal as a place to capture your thoughts.

(Adapted from The Power of Presence by Kristi Hedges)

Challenge #12

Leaders with effective command presence show empathy.

  • Watch RSA’s adaptation of Brene Brown’s talk on empathy.

    Time: 2:53
  • In your journal, write the definitions of "sympathy" and "empathy." Describe cases when each is appropriate.
  • How can you practice empathy with regard to the present COVID-19 pandemic?

Challenge #13

Effective leaders are willing to address negative thoughts that may be affecting their leadership.

  • In your journal, list your negative self-talk.
  • Develop a plan to address each barrier.

Challenge #14

Effective leaders know themselves and their team.

  • As an individual and with your team, complete the “Values Exploration” exercise found on our blog.
  • Write your values in your journal.
  • Post team values where all have access.

Challenge #15

Teams know when their leader is authentic.

Challenge #16

Effective leaders know their strengths and how to use them.

  • Take the VIA Institute on Character’s free strength survey. (https://www.viacharacter.org/).
  • Write your strengths in your journal; list ways you can use your strengths to build your command presence.

Challenge #17

Effective leaders are artful in perspective taking.

  • Watch Daniel Pink speak on attunement @ https://youtu.be/TP81PQ0vlaI

    Time: 2:54.
  • In your journal, write the definitions of “introvert,” “extrovert,” and “ambivert.” Which fits you best and how you can better the art of perspective taking?

Challenge #18

Effective leaders are about "we” not "me."

  • Create a psychological safe environment for your followers.
  • Read Amy Edmondson’s book “The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.”

Challenge #19

Effective leaders are transparent and encourage follower input.

  • Assess a current situation.
  • Do you have a written plan for the situation?
  • Ensure your followers understand the plan and provide input.
  • Revise the plan as needed.

Challenge #20

Effective leaders know how to respond to a crisis.

Challenge #21

Building trust is key in effective leadership.

  • Watch Kerwin Rae discuss calm assertiveness. (https://youtu.be/dxFhoSAyxAU)

    Time: 3:29.
  • Practice using calm assertiveness to build trust. Journalize about your effort.

Challenge #22

Leaders with good command presence take responsibility for their actions.

  • Watch Governor Cuomo respond to closing businesses during the pandemic. (https://youtu.be/f2Tqfn3YV2E)

    Time: 2:31
  • In your journal: Am I taking responsibility for my actions and decisions?

Challenge #23

Effective leaders know who they are.

  • In your journal, list your roles and your goals.
  • From your roles and goals, construct a personal mission statement.
  • Post your mission statement where you will see it.

Challenge #24

Confident leaders embrace hard conversations.

  • Read "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" by Stone, Patton, & Heen.
  • In your journal, note the techniques you would like to try; leave space to reflect on how they worked.

Challenge #25

Effective leaders lead by example.

  • In your journal, respond to the following questions:
    • What can I do to make myself better?
    • What can I do to make my team better?

Challenge #26

Good leaders know themselves and seek improvement.

  • Seek critical feedback from someone you trust—mentor, coach, or trusted advisor.
  • Participate in a 360-degree feedback survey.
  • In your journal, devise a plan to address your weaknesses.

Challenge #27

Honesty is a necessary element of good command presence.

  • Self-reflect upon your ability for blunt honesty.
  • In your journal, pick one item that you would like to change about yourself; leave room to track your progress.

Challenge #28

Effective leaders choose to lead by example.

  • Reflect in your journal about why you have chosen to lead.
  • How do you plan to positively impact yourself and those around you?

Challenge #29

Exposing negative self-talk helps a leader move beyond these issues.

  • Journalize your perspective of command presence and your ability to affect it.
  • Identify areas of negative self-talk and work with a trusted ally to address these areas.

Challenge #30

Fire leaders never stop learning.

Challenge #31

Fire leaders seek knowledge from other leaders.

  • Journalize your perception of or facts you know about Nelson Mandela.
  • If you are not familiar, conduct research and write a summary about him in your journal.

Challenge #32

Effective leaders learn from others.

  • Watch the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
  • Journalize where you see examples of command presence.
  • Note what you most admire about a leader you respect when they are leading through adversity in a positive way.

Challenge #33

Effective leaders are good communicators.

  • Read the book Mandela’s Way.
  • Journalize how Nelson Mandela exhibited command presence and led through adversity.
  • Journalize about which chapter stood out to you the most.

Challenge #34

Effective leaders share their knowledge.

  • Reflect upon Nelson Mandela’s legacy using your notes, the movie, and the book.
  • Develop a command presence discussion guide and share it with your team.
  • Journal your success/challenges.

Challenge #35

Effective leaders build the team.

Challenge #36

Effective leaders embrace an infinite mindset.

Challenge #37

Effective leaders are great storytellers.

Challenge #38

A leader's command presence is highlighted during times of crisis.

  • Select one leader who currently exhibits good command presence and one who does not.
  • Journalize the characteristics shown by the leaders. Select one positive aspect you would like to follow.

Challenge #39

Effective leaders are good communicators.

Challenge #40

Effective leaders spend time with their people.

  • Estimate how much time you spend, both digitally and face-to-face with your people.
  • Vow to make face-to-face time with your people a priority.

Challenge #41

All leaders are human.

  • Think of a time when as a leader you felt inadequate.
  • Journalize about the following:
    • What were/are your thoughts?
    • Were/Are those thoughts valid?
    • What would an alternate thought be?

Challenge #42

Good leaders promote building confidence in themselves and those they lead.

  • Recognize and celebrate your successes and the successes of others.
  • Journalize about your successes and the attributes, skills and actions that contributed to your achievements.

Challenge #43

Effective leaders are resilient.

Challenge #44

Effective leaders challenge themselves and others.

  • Seek out something challenging—a project, new skill or hobby, tough read, workout, etc.—for you and your people.
  • Journalize about your journey.

Challenge #45

Good leaders acknowledge their biases and work to eliminate them.

  • Watch “12 Cognitive Biases Explained.” (https://youtu.be/wEwGBIr_Riw )

    Time 10:08
  • Reflect on your biases in your journal. Devise a plan to address your biases.

Challenge #46

Effective leaders build the team.

  • In your journal, write down what you are doing to prepare the next generation of leaders to replace you.
  • Commit to implementing or continuing your plan of action.

Challenge #47

Effective leaders promote self-care.

  • Watch Sarri Gilman’s TedTalk (https://youtu.be/rtsHUeKnkC8)

    Time 15:54
  • In your journal, write down areas where you need to set boundaries.
  • Develop a plan for self-care for self and others.

Challenge #48

Confident leaders own their shortcomings.

  • Make a vow to own your mistakes and apologize to those affected.
  • In your journal, write down those times when you were wrong and failed to admit it. Consider apologizing.

Challenge #49

Effective leaders set and respect boundaries.

  • Assess your ability to set boundaries.
  • Read “Boundaries – When to Say Yes When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Challenge #50

Effective leaders take care of themselves.

Challenge #51

Effective leaders take time to reflect.

  • Take a critical look at yourself/your leadership
    • Does your perception of you match that of those you lead?
    • Are you a better leader now than you were 12 months ago?
    • Develop a plan for continued improvement.

Campaign Archive

2018 campaign bannerNo 2018 Reference Guide - No awards given for 2018