Friday, April 3, 2020

Challenge #12 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

Challenge 12: Leaders with effective command presence show empathy.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, April 2, 2020

IGNITE: Growth Opportunities

fire engines in front of wildfire
Our most significant challenges are often our greatest occasions and learning experiences to grow. ♦ George Raveling, Coaching for Success ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mental Health and Being a Hotshot

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

This is a sobering, vulnerable farewell letter from El Dorado IHC Superintendent Aaron Humphries. Aaron gave us permission to share his letter with our followers. We thank "Hump" for 20 years of dedicated service and wish him and his family well on next steps.

Please read his letter and share it throughout your spheres of influence as you see fit. This is the sobering truth of what is happening to members across the service. Aaron is one of many people exiting the wildland fire service. As a wildland fire service, we need to be better to ourselves and those we lead. Self-care should be paramount. Families should matter. Mental health must be addressed.

Monday, March 30, 2020

IGNITE: Beliefs Shape Presence

helicopter water drop

Your beliefs shape every aspect of your presence, from body language to the actions you choose to undertake. ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦
[Photo: Tallac IHC]

#fireleadership #2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence

Friday, March 27, 2020

Challenge #11: 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP Campaign logo and challenge

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)

#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, March 26, 2020


wildland fire with firefighter silouhette
“Give yourself permission to be more of yourself, rather than less.” ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Caught In the Middle

Have you had moments during your social isolation where you have experienced a tinge of anxiety that you just can't get rid of? Something just doesn't add up. You are getting mixed messages from health care professionals and political leaders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. You are trying to respond with social responsibility but mixed messages have you confused and caught in the middle of a sensemaking conundrum.

Monday, March 23, 2020

IGNITE: The Power of Personal Initiative

wildland firefighter in front of fire
On a chaotic and rapidly developing wildfire, one person taking the initiative can make all the difference in seizing and taking advantage of an opportunity. ♦ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 27 ♦
[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Friday, March 20, 2020

Challenge #10 - WFLDP Campaign

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.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, March 19, 2020

IGNITE: Seeds of Confidence

forest fire
“No one has absolute confidence. You just need to find a seed of confidence to create an environment where your full confidence can grow. ” ♦ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence ♦
[Photo: Kristi Hedges]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Monday, March 16, 2020

IGNITE: Inspired by Command Presence

sun shining through smoke and a tree

When we meet someone with strong presence, we can feel it. And if the person is a leader, we are inspired by it. ♦ Kristi Hedges, “The Power of Presence” ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Friday, March 13, 2020

Challenge #9 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

Challenge 9:
Appearance affects command presence to a degree.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #fireleadership #commandpresence

Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Fine Line Between Preparation and Paranoia

(Photo: Pam McDonald)
I come from a long line of tough individuals. My mother's family goes back to early Colonial America and westward expansion pioneers. I didn't know a lot of my family history until I dove into my genealogy. Along my quest, I have learned a great deal about who I am and why I do the things I do—why I have a knack for resourcefulness, preparation and calmness in the face of fear.

IGNITE: Moving Beyond Survive

forest fire

“Command presence builds the quality that allows you to move beyond survive—to thrive, even gain strength, from hardship and power from adversity.” ♦ Mike Alexander, 37-yr police officer veteran ♦
[Photo: Mesa IHC]

#fireleadership #commandpresence #2020WFLDPCampaign

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Facing the Enemies Within"

(Photo by Gellinger on Pixabay)
Wildland fire operations have inherent risks that cannot be eliminated, even in the best of circumstances. Incident management and response is a competition between human beings and the forces of nature; leaders struggle to manage the effects caused by wildfire and other natural and man-made events. The environment can rapidly and unexpectedly change from normal to emergency conditions to complete chaos. (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 10)
The above statement reflects what every wildland firefighter knows about the inherent risks of the job. It is during these moments of chaos that leaders are tested. Do those leaders have the courage and command presence to calm the fears of those they lead or do they contribute to the fear? Do they know who they are in the face of chaos?

Monday, March 9, 2020

Challenge #8 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

Challenge 8: 

Command presence is deeper than charisma.
  • Watch James Scouller speak on the topic @
  • Take notes in your journal.

IGNITE: Decisiveness and Toughness

While decisiveness and toughness in a leader signal conviction, courage, and resolve, when untampered by empathy or compassion these same characteristics come off as egotism, arrogance, and insensitivity. ♦ Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence ♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

#fireleadership #empathy #compassion 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

IGNITE: Show Them You Care

Firefighters chatting

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” 
♦ Theodore Roosevelt ♦

[Photo: San Juan IHC]

#fireleadership #care

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Command Presence - Beyond the Physical Attributes

eye with cracked areas around it
(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)
I am a fan of the '60s television series Green Acres. In the episode "The Ballad of Molly Turgiss," Oliver and Lisa Douglas learn about the curse of Molly Turgiss—a woman the town labeled "ugly" who vowed in her death to haunt anyone who spoke her name.  She let her presence be known in a very tangible way, such as throwing things and stealing vehicles.

So, why did I choose this episode to blog about? I am not condoning the actions of those who judge anyone for their looks, but I am not naive enough to believe that looks don't matter. In fact, someone recently commented on a Facebook question about height being an issue they say affects their command presence. But the outward appearance of a leader only goes "skin deep."  When we talk about the look of a leader, we need to go deeper than the physical attributes.

Monday, March 2, 2020

IGNITE: Living Our Values

hotshot crew ascending a hill
Values aren’t something you declare; they’re something you live. ♦ Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work ♦
[Photo: Union IHC]

#fireleadership #values

Friday, February 28, 2020

Challenge #7 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

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.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

Thursday, February 27, 2020

IGNITE: For the Good of the Hive

saw team working on a stump

What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee. ♦ Marcus Aurelius ♦

[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Monday, February 24, 2020

IGNITE: The Wildland Leadership Challenge

Hotshot crew clearning line
The leadership challenge in the wildland fire service is to influence people to accomplish tasks and objectives under confusing, dangerous, and ambiguous conditions. ♦ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 10 ♦

[Photo: Midewin IHC]


Friday, February 21, 2020

Challenge 6 - WLFDP Campaign

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

Thursday, February 20, 2020

IGNITE - Ambition versus Leadership

wildland firefighters burning out
Ambition is refusing to quit on ourselves. Leadership is refusing to quit on others. ♦ Simon Sinek ♦
[Photo: Devil's Canyon Veteran's Handcrew]

#fireleadership #ambition

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

We've all heard that part of being a "good" leader is looking, sounding, and acting the part. In some of our leadership classes we talk about command presence and how tone of voice and posture influence how people respond to you as a leader. But it goes beyond just how others perceive and respond to you - your body language also influence you. In this TED Talk from 2012, author and social psychologist Amy Cuddy explores how our body language influences not only those around us, but us as individuals.

Monday, February 17, 2020

IGNITE: Perspectives

Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg Battlefield, @ sunset
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” ♦ C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew ♦
[Photo: BLM FOG @ Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg Staff Ride]

#fireleadership #perspective #values

Friday, February 14, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

IGNITE: Accepting Help

hotshot crew hiking through the forest

We all understand the importance of asking for help, but those who achieve big things are the ones who accept it when it is offered. ♦ Simon Sinek ♦
[Photo: Asheville IHC]


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Too Hot to Handle

water and fire fist fight
(Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay) 
This topic is probably too hot to handle, but here we go.

Did you watch the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show? What did you think?  I saw very few "meh" comments or emojis on my social media feeds. What I can tell you is my friends either loved it or hated it. Shakira and J Lo had people talking. But did Shakira and J Lo have command/executive presence?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Challenge #4 - 2020 WFLDP Leadership Campaign

2020 WFLDP logo and challenge

2020 WFLDP Campaign: Command Presence - Do you know who you are?

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.
#2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence #fireleadership

IGNITE: Reading Transformations

handcrew walking along mountain road
Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul. - Joyce Carol Oates
[Photo: Devil's Canyon Veterans Handcrew]

#fireleadership #leadersarereaders

Thursday, February 6, 2020

IGNITE: Start With Good People

hotshots walking up a hill

Start with good people and develop them into good leaders. Don’t start with good leaders and hope you can turn them into good people. ♦ Scott Cochrane ♦
[Kari Greer/USFS]


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Command Presence - The Cutting Edge

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay
Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay 
Growing up near Sun Valley, Idaho, winter sports were popular. Although Sun Valley is reknowned for skiing, ice skating holds the fascination of many. I enjoyed graceful men and women gliding across the ice, jumping, and spinning as they went. Little did I know that my fasciation with ice skating would become the impetus for a leadership blog some 45 years later.

So, Pam, what does ice skating have to do with leadership, and more specifically, command presence? Today's reflections are inspired by the movie "The Cutting Edge."  I know this is a stretch, but stay with me.

Monday, February 3, 2020

IGNITE: Transformation Begins with Self

burned, dead tree with sun behind
Everyone dreams of changing the world, but few realize that the process begins with transforming themselves. ♦ The Daily Coach ♦
[Photo: La Grande IHC]


Friday, January 31, 2020

Challenge #3 - 2020 WFLDP Campaign

challenge and logo for 2020 WFLDP campaign

2020 National Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign: Command Presence - Do you know who you are?
Challenge 3:
Responding with “deliberate calm” is important during an emergency.
  • Read “Command Presence – Leadership in Emergencies” by Timothy Cummings. (
#fireleadership #2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence

Thursday, January 30, 2020

IGNITE: Space for Transformation

firefighter monitoring back firing operation
Transformation is possible if we create the space for it to happen. ♦ Shaka Senghor♦

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS]

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Mann Gulch and the Missing Links

view of Mann Gulch from the jumper plane

The Mann Gulch tragedy is an event every wildland firefighter should study in depth, but few do. The lessons gleaned from that one incident altered the course of wildland fire. While conducting research for the 2020, I came upon a statement by Sylvia Ann Hewlett about "gravitas" (how you act) that flung me headfirst into today's blog on the missing link from Mann Gulch—Wag Dodge lacked gravitas, the very essence of  command presence:
These qualities connote gravitas, that weightiness or heft that marks you as worth following into the fire. - Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence

Monday, January 27, 2020

IGNITE: Taking Care of Your People

firefighter in the forest fighting fire
Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to. ♦ Richard Branson ♦
[Photo: Kyle Miller/Wyoming IHC]


Friday, January 24, 2020

Challenge #2: Command Presence - Do you know who you are?

weekly campaign challenge and logo

Challenge 2:
#fireleadership #2020WFLDPCampaign #commandpresence