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Cabo Clarity and the Perfect IC

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It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. Had a fantastic “unplugged” vacation in Cabo, followed by a week hosting a guest from Northern Ireland.  As a result, I found myself strangely disconnected from the world, at least from an electronic standpoint.  However, I reconnected with reality in other ways, resulting in a fresh perspective about personal priorities and future plans.  Refreshing to say the least.  I found myself asking the question; “How plugged in is too plugged in?”  Think I may have to go back there next year to try and find the elusive answer.

During one of my pool “daze” I reflected on an excellent article written by crisis communications expert Gerald Baron a few weeks ago. The article references the Coast Guard’s review of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and their assessment of what it takes to be an effective leader during crisis. As noted by Gerald, effective crisis leadership takes;

  • Command Presence
  • Authoritativeness
  • Stamina
  • Strategic thinking
  • Stress management
  • Decisiveness
  • Delegated responsibility and accountability
  • Enhanced leadership skills
  • Ability to inspire

These are excellent broad areas that demand outstanding performance during crisis.  As I sipped my margarita (yeah, I know I’m rubbing it in a little!) I tried to think of the “nuts and bolts” things that make up the PIC (Perfect Incident Commander). I think a PIC;

  • Believes in the ICS process and honors it.
  • Does not tolerate compromising safety.
  • Is a realist.
  • Knows when to cut losses.
  • Engages the customers – consistently and accurately.
  • Puts others first.
  • Understands how much money they have to play with.
  • Never stops learning.
  • Never underestimates the intelligence of the collective.
  • Listens to make sure the community understands the message as intended.
  • Keeps the bosses informed and looking credible.
  • Puts the most talented people in the right positions, regardless of their position of authority outside of the crisis response.
  • Gets out of the way and trusts people to do their jobs.
  • Replaces them if they don’t/can’t do it.
  • Convinces the community that he/she cares.
  • Knows that actions speak louder than words.
  • Has the courage to make the right decision, and an uncanny ability to do so with limited information.
  • Knows when they make a mistake, learns from it and moves on.
  • Thrives in leading in dynamic and rapidly changing environments.
  • Takes the blame and heaps the praise.
  • Understands the power of body language and public presentation.
  • Never assumes the community (customers) does not understand. Perception is reality.

Maintaining our customer’s confidence in our ability to make a mess go away cannot be stressed enough.  Economic vitality, funding and political support depend on it.    I’d be interested in hearing your comments and additions to this list.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Andy Day

    Here’s to PICs! Your list, in combination with the Coast Guard’s, serve as comprehensive list for all ICs to aspire to.

  • http://www.wingineering.com Gary Oldham

    Bill, this is probably the best “real world” description of an IC’s role that I have ever heard or seen. Kudos! (And I couldn’t agree more about taking any opportunity to take an on-campus course at the NFA or EMI. I haven’t taken an on-campus course there since 1984 when I took what was then the entire Executive Development II and III set of courses, and it was a life (or at least career) changing experience.

    • http://chiefb2.wordpress.com chiefb2

      Thanks Gary!

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO. Current industrial services safety professional, social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Dad with an open wallet.