Challenges: 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?”

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. (
  • 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 @

    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. (

    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. (

    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.

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 (

    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.



Print 2020 Challenge Reference Guide


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