Some qualities of an effective leader include being able to:
Balance response initiatives with safety concerns.
Communicate clear directions.
Size up the situation and make rapid decisions.
Assess the effectiveness of tactics/strategies.
Be flexible and modify plans as necessary.
A good leader:
Communicates by giving specific instructions and asking for feedback.
Supervises the scene of action.
Evaluates the effectiveness of the plan.
Understands and accepts the need to modify plans or instructions.
Ensures safe work practices.
Takes command of assigned resources.
Motivates with a “can do safely” attitude.
Demonstrates initiative by taking action.
The safety of all personnel involved in an incident or a planned event is the first duty of ICS leadership. This is the overall responsibility of Team Leaders, Group or Division Supervisors, Branch Directors, Sections Chiefs, and all members of the Command or Unified Command staff. Ensuring safe work practices is the top priority within the ICS common leadership responsibilities.
As a leader, you should try to:
Take charge within your scope of authority.
Be prepared to step out of a tactical role to assume a leadership role.
Be proficient in your job.
Make sound and timely decisions.
Ensure tasks are understood.
Develop your subordinates for the future.
Know your subordinates and look out for their well-being. The workers who follow you are your greatest resource. Not all of your workers will succeed equally, but they all deserve respect.
Keep your subordinates and supervisor informed. Provide accurate and timely briefings, and give the reason (intent) for assignments and tasks.
Build the team. Conduct frequent briefings and debriefings with the team to monitor progress and identify lessons learned. Consider team experience, fatigue, and physical limitations when accepting assignments.
To ensure sharing of critical information, all responders must:
Brief others as needed.
Debrief their actions.
Communicate hazards to others.
Ask if they do not know.
While not always possible, the most effective form of communication is face-to-face.
Assessment is an important leadership responsibility, and is conducted after a major activity in order to allow employees and leaders to discover what happened and why. Assessment methods include:
Corrective action report/After-action review (AAR).
Post-incident analysis (PIA).
Incident Commander (IC): The individual responsible for all incident activities, including the development of strategies and tactics and the ordering and the release of resources. The IC has overall authority and responsibility for conducting incident operations and is responsible for the management of all incident operations at the incident site.
Command Staff: The Command Staff consists of:
Liaison Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for coordinating with representatives from cooperating and assisting agencies. The Liaison Officer may have Assistants.
Public Information Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for interfacing with the public and media or with other agencies with incident-related information requirements.
Safety Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for monitoring and assessing safety hazards or unsafe situations, and for developing measures for ensuring personnel safety. The Safety Officer may have Assistants.
General Staff: The organization level having functional responsibility for primary segments of incident management (Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration). The Section level is organizationally between Branch and Incident Commander. Sections are as follows:
Operations Section: The Section responsible for all tactical operations at the incident. The Operations Section includes:
Branch: That organizational level having functional, geographical, or jurisdictional responsibility for major parts of the incident operations. The Branch level is organizationally between Section and Division/Group in the Operations Section, and between Section and Units in the Logistics Section. Branches are identified by the use of Roman numerals, by function, or by jurisdictional name.
Division: That organization level having responsibility for operations within a defined geographic area. The Division level is organizationally between the Strike Team and the Branch.
Group: Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of operation. Groups are located between Branches (when activated) and Resources in the Operations Section.
Unit: That organization element having functional responsibility for a specific incident planning, logistics, or finance activity.
Task Force: A group of resources with common communications and a leader that may be preestablished and sent to an incident, or formed at an incident.
Strike Team: Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communications and a leader.
Single Resource: An individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or an established crew or team of individuals with an identified work supervisor, that can be used on an incident.
Planning Section: Responsible for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of information related to the incident, and for the preparation and documentation of the Incident Action Plan. The Planning Section also maintains information on the current and forecasted situation, and on the status of resources assigned to the incident. This Section includes the Situation, Resources, Documentation, and Demobilization Units, as well as Technical Specialists.
Logistics Section: The Section responsible for providing facilities, services, and materials for the incident. Includes the Service Branch (Communications Unit, Medical Unit, and Food Unit) and Support Branch (Supply Unit, Facilities Unit, and Ground Support Unit).
Finance/Administration Section: The Section responsible for all incident costs and financial considerations. The Finance/Administration Section includes the Time Unit, Procurement Unit, Compensation/Claims Unit, and Cost Unit.
Span-of-control ratios can be driven by a number of factors such as:
Stability of the situation.
Complexity of the incident and objectives.
Training and experience of responders.
Distance between resources.
Environmental and weather conditions.
Important Note: Planning is critical in order to avoid runaway ordering of resources and the loss of an effective span of control.
Use of Position Titles
At each level within the ICS organization, individuals with primary responsibility positions have distinct titles. Using specific ICS position titles serves these important purposes:
Provides a common standard.
Ensures qualified individuals fill positions.
Ensures that requested personnel are qualified.
Describes the responsibilities of the position.
Titles for all ICS supervisory levels are shown in the table below:
Organizational Level Title Support Position
Incident Command Incident Commander Deputy
Command Staff Officer Assistant
General Staff (Section) Chief Deputy
Branch Director Deputy
Division/Group Supervisor N/A
Unit Leader Manager
Strike Team/Task Force Leader Single Resource Boss
Management by objectives includes:
Establishing overarching objectives.
Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols.
Establishing specific, measurable objectives for various incident management functional activities.
Directing efforts to attain them, in support of defined strategic objectives.
Documenting results to measure performance and facilitate corrective action.
Responders establishing objectives.
The steps for establishing and implementing incident objectives include:
Step 1: Understand agency policy and direction.
Step 2: Assess incident situation.
Step 3: Establish incident objectives.
Step 4: Select appropriate strategy or strategies to achieve objectives.
Step 5: Perform tactical direction.
Step 6: Provide necessary followup.
Throughout the incident, objectives are established based on the following priorities:
First Priority: Life Safety
Second Priority: Incident Stabilization
Third Priority: Property Preservation