Challenges: 2022 Wildland Fire National Leadership Campaign - Learning in the Wildland Fire Service

2022 campaign banner - Learning in the Wildland Fire Service


The theme for the 2022 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign is “Learning in the Wildland Fire Service.”


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, 2022, and December 31, 2022.


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.

2022 Campaign Activities

Challenge #1

Challenge #2

  • Prepare a leadership journal for 2022.
  • Journalize your intentions for leadership development.
    • Capture key points from the Learning in the Wildland Fire Service bi-weekly reading found on our blog or social media platforms available via our website.

Challenge #3

Learning is vital to thriving in high-risk environments.

  • Update your self-development plan.
  • If you do not have a self-development plan, see our website.

Challenge #4

The three chief pillars of learning within the wildland fire service:

  • Inquiry. We seek to understand.
  • Opportunity. We create conditions for learning.
  • Dialogue. We constructively exchange ideas.
    • Devote one page per pillar in your journal. Throughout the campaign, write down ways you can practice each pillar. Document your progress.
    • Look for opportunities to talk with your team about the pillars. Take action to improve as students of fire.

Challenge #5

Tenets of Inquiry: Be Humble • Know the System • Be Accountable

Respond to the following on your “Inquiry” page in your journal:

  • Are you open to the possibility for improvement?
  • What are the informal and formal learning systems around you and your part in them?
  • What and how are you teaching and learning in those systems?

Challenge #6

Inquiry: It is each individual’s responsibility to think about how they are learning and seek any and all avenues to improve their knowledge and skill level.

  • Identify how learning takes place in all the environments you operate in.
  • Make an effort to improve what needs improving.
  • Monitor goals and progress in your journal.

Challenge #7

You are responsible for yourself first—building on the strengths you bring to the organization and improving the weaknesses you have.

In your journal, take inventory of your gifts.

  • What do you do really well?
  • What does your organization need you to do that you are not very good at?
  • How do you learn best, and how can you better yourself so that you can provide more value to your team?

Challenge #8

Leaders build learning organizations.

Select at least one Rapid Lesson Sharing submission from the LLC's database.

In your journal or with your team discuss the following:

  • What happened?
  • What are the lessons?

Challenge #9

Good leaders apply critical thinking and not judgment to sense making.

  • Listen to LLC podcast "Bad Apples."
  • Reassess discussion/thoughts from Challenge #8.
    • Did you or your team members apply the Bad Apples Theory to this incident?
    • Are you less likely to judge those you know than those you don't?

Challenge #10

Effective teams adopt and internalize a common set of values.

  • Review the wildland fire leadership values and principles with your team.
  • Reread “How Did We Learn ‘Duty, Respect, and Integrity?’” (Learning in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 14-15)
    • Why are “common definitions and agree-upon principles for leadership” important?

Challenge #11

Good leaders look for new opportunities for inquiry and dialogue.

  • Discuss the difference between training, education, and experience (TEE) with your team.
  • Look for ways to artfully combine TEE into a well-crafted opportunity.
  • Seek opportunities to be a teacher and a student throughout the campaign.
    • Share your experience with your team members and in your journal.

Challenge #12

Good teachers craft great learning experiences.

  • Visit the Tactical Decision Game Library and facilitate a sand table exercise with your team.
    • Interplay questions and answer and problems and solutions to produce tangible results.
    • Ensure participants get to be teachers and students.
    • Conduct an AAR with your team.

Challenge #13

When planning and conducting teaching and learning, leaders target behaviors for change. Be better!

  • Assess your leadership environment.
    • Ensure team and individual behaviors are ethical and align with organizational values.
    • Seek an outside source to ensure that perceptions match reality.
  • Develop a plan for behavioral change.
  • Implement the plan.

Challenge #14

Students of fire have a desire and responsibility to learn.

  • Review your learning plan.
    • Break opportunities into two categories—desired learning and responsible to learn.
  • Work with your local training officer to set goals and register for learning.
  • Never stop learning.

Challenge #15

Students of fire learn from accidents.

Challenge #16

Effective leaders are critical thinkers.

Challenge #17

Leaders are readers.

Challenge #18

Leaders learn from past events and apply them to the future.

  • Download and review the “Wildland Fire Staff Ride Guide.
  • Brainstorm with your team about a local event that could be made into a staff ride.
    • Reach out to the Staff Ride Coordinator for assistance.
  • Attend or reflect upon a staff ride you have attended. Journal about the following:
    • Lessons learned
    • Impacts of experiential learning impacts on you, your team, and the wildland fire service

Challenge #19

Effective leaders know what motivates their team.

  • Read “Magnets” in Learning in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 27-28.
  • Work with team members to identify personal and team “magnets”—things that draw you in and things that repel you.
  • Select a past event. Apply the concept of “magnets” as you review the incident.

Challenge #20

Students of fire honor through learning.

  • Review case studies found on the LLC website.
  • Select a study and facilitate a learning session for your team.
  • Develop a case study for a local incident and send to the LLC as appropriate.

Challenge #21

Effective leaders debrief the day’s events with their teams.

Challenge #22

Effective leaders cultivate learning organizations to pass on lessons.

Challenge #23

Good leaders create psychologically safe environments in which their team can share.

Challenge #24

Good leaders are self-directed learners.

  • Seek out at least one opportunity to teach or learn this week.
  • Share what you’ve learned with your team.
  • Write about your experience in your journal.

Challenge #25

Students of leadership understand how their biases may affect learning.

Challenge #26

Effective teams ensure multiple perspectives of an issue and solutions are considered.

Challenge #27

Effective leaders are proficient in the use of constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.

Challenge #28

A good learning environment is characterized by open communication; mutual trust and respect; freedom to raise issues and engage in debate; clear and obtainable goals, objectives and teamwork.

  • With your team or via self-reflection, respond to the following questions:
    • What is the learning climate of your unit?
    • How do you—regardless of your position—contribute?

Challenge #29

Effective leaders provide a safe place for learning.

  • With your team or via self-reflection, respond to the following questions:
    • Where are learning opportunities occurring?
    • Are learning opportunities lecture-focused instead of experiential?
    • Are we training like we “fight”?
    • Are students engaged?
  • Make a plan to learn as much as possible in the work environment.

Challenge #30

Effective leaders create ideal learning environments that engage learners.

Challenge #31

Effective teachers have good command presence.

Challenge #32

Great leaders show they care.

Challenge #33

Effective teachers/leaders are good role models.

Challenge #34

Effective teachers/leaders master the art of smooth transitions.

Challenge #35

Effective teachers/leaders have well-structured learning environments.

Challenge #36

Effective teachers/leaders do not overwhelm their students/people.

  • Create agendas where topics last no more than 20 minutes.
  • Ensure smooth transitions between topics and schedule quality breaks.
  • Obtain feedback from your students/people.

Challenge #37

Effective leaders practice situational awareness at all times.

  • Read “5 Ways to Instantly Read Your Audience” by Speaker Hub.
  • Become an observer during a meeting or classroom session.
    • Note audience participation – eye contact, body language, tone of voice, level of engagement.
  • Practice audience awareness during your deliveries. Adjust as necessary.

Challenge #38

Effective teachers/leaders hold their people accountable.

  • Watch/listen to “Jocko’s Issue With Holding People Accountable.”

    Time: 11:34
  • Tie all instruction back to the fireline with life-and-death decisions they will face in the realm of complexity.

Challenge #39

Effective leaders challenge their learners with manageable difficulties.

  •  Ensure environments provide a safe place for people to learn.
    • Use tactical decision games and sand table exercises.
    • Assign coaches.
  • Delegate tasks that stretch your team members beyond their comfort level.

Challenge #40

Effective leaders/teachers give recognition.

  • Give each of your students/team members positive reinforcement.
  • Set up a method of recognizing your people doing “good”/well in the field and in the classroom.”

Challenge #41

Effective leaders/teachers stimulate cooperation among team members/students.

Challenge #42

Effective leaders/teachers express their intentions.

Challenge #43

Leaders/teachers are effective storytellers.

Challenge #44

Leaders/teachers actively listen in order to give constructive feedback.

  • Be present when interacting with others.
  • Encourage students/team members to dig deeper by asking relevant questions to further conversations.

Challenge #45

Leaders and students have integrity.

  • Journalize about your journey as a leader with integrity.
    • Know yourself.
    • Seek self-improvement.
    • Seek responsibility.
    • Take responsibility for your actions.
    • Set the example.
  • Set one goal to accomplish in 2023 to further your development.

Challenge #46

Leaders are motivated to make things better.

  • Send comments/feedback to the LLC about Learning in the Wildland Fire Service.

Challenge #47

Effective leaders/teachers take notes.

  • Read Dan Rockwell’s “Idiots Don’t Take Notes.
  • In your journal, write down the things that make someone trustworthy and the four key building blocks to develop strong character. Assess your character.

Challenge #48

Leaders are compassionate.

  • Read the Daily Coach “Kind vs. Nice” blog.
  • If you haven’t already, create a personal journal and begin taking notes.

Challenge #49

Leaders share what they learn.

  • Routinely share lessons learned between your team members.
  • Ensure all members of the team contribute.
  • Document lessons learned and shared.

Challenge #50

Successful leaders develop leaders. High performing team members crave development.” – Dan Rockwell

  • Build a culture of lifelong learning into your organization.
  • Work with your team to develop a plan to develop self and team.

Challenge #51

Effective leaders/teachers embrace a growth mindset.

  • Identify areas you want to focus personal and crew development in 2023.
  • Embed learning opportunities into your daily/weekly/monthly calendar.
  • Set the example for others to follow.

Challenge #52

Leaders contemplate the past, present, and future.

In our journal respond to the following:

  • Past – Reflect upon this year’s campaign. What did you learn? How will you integrate these nuggets into your leadership environment?
  • Present – List five things that matter to you.
  • Future – In your journal, list five things you want to accomplish in 2023.


Campaign Archives

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