Skip to content

FEMA IS-240.B: Leadership and Influence Course Summary

IS-0240.b – Leadership and Influence

Lesson 1: Leadership in Emergency Management

Course Welcome

Being able to lead others—to motivate them and commit their energies and expertise to achieving the shared mission and goals of the emergency management system—is a necessary and vital part of every emergency manager’s, planner’s, and responder’s job.

The goal of this course is to improve your leadership and influence skills. To that end, this course addresses:

  • Leadership from within.
  • Facilitating change.
  • Building and rebuilding trust.
  • Using personal influence and political savvy.
  • Fostering an environment for leadership development.

This course is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute’s Independent Study Professional Development Series.


Course Objectives

This course is designed to promote effective leadership and influencing skills among emergency management personnel. At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Explain what leadership means for emergency personnel.
  • Explain why effective leadership begins with personal insight and development.
  • Identify your leadership capabilities and areas for personal development.
  • Describe a change management model and the process for planning, communicating, and implementing change.
  • Describe how to build and rebuild trust in an organization.
  • Use personal influence and develop political savvy to network and influence people effectively.
  • Develop strategies for creating a positive work environment that fosters leadership and a commitment to continuous improvement in others.


Lesson Introduction

As an emergency management professional, you must be able to use leadership and influence effectively to lead your organization and the community in planning for, preventing, and responding to emergency situations and disasters.

Leadership involves providing vision, direction, coordination, and motivation toward achieving emergency management goals. These skills are necessary whether dealing with subordinates, those with more authority than you, your peers in partner organizations, volunteers, or the public.

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the importance of effective leadership in emergency management.
  • Define leadership and influence.
  • Relate the course topics to your job and community.


Leadership in Emergency Management: What’s at Stake?

It probably goes without saying that leadership is critically important when emergencies happen. By its very nature, emergency management connotes leadership—safeguarding life and property by marshalling both the will and the resources to respond to and recover from an emergency quickly.

To illustrate what can happen when emergency personnel cannot or do not exercise effective leadership, read the following narrative.

The Los Cuchillos fire began as a result of a private aircraft crash in the rugged Los Cuchillos Hills area.
Local firefighters responded at 8:00 a.m. By noon, as the fire quickly grew to 20,000 acres, the Los Cuchillos Fire Department invoked its mutual aid agreements. This action bolstered the firefighting force by two teams. However, even with this support, the fire had spread to 40,000 acres by 6:00 p.m.

At 5:15 p.m., with all department and mutual aid fire assets committed, Fire Chief Ed Blakely called the County Emergency Operations Center (or EOC) and requested outside help. The County EOC contacted Ellen Burgess, the duty officer at the State EOC, and requested that the State Emergency Response Act be invoked. Under this act, the State Director of Emergency Management could commit State assets (such as people, equipment, and money) to the fire.

Ellen Burgess contacted Chief Blakely in the field. He told her that he could not hold the fire. It was headed straight for the Tres Rios Nuclear Power Plant and was also threatening the Los Cerros housing community. He told her that she needed to invoke the Emergency Response Act because he would definitely need State resources to fight the fire.

Acting State Director Rick Douglas considered the county’s request for State help. Rick was a cautious decisionmaker. He had encountered problems in the past when he had made decisions without getting all of the facts. Ellen Burgess told him, “The fire is out of control, mutual aid assets are committed, and the fire is headed for a nuclear power plant. There is really not much to think about.”

Rick and Ellen did not work well together. Each felt that the other was untrustworthy and, as a result, there was little cooperation or communication between them. Rick turned his back on Ellen and pondered the request.

The pace of State operations quickened. EOC staff members were busy fielding media calls, drafting situation reports, and trying to plot the location and size of the fire. Ellen confronted Rick and told him, “We need to move out on this thing. The fire is out of control and heading for the nuclear power plant. They are overwhelmed. We need to decide now.”

Rick backed away, and told her, “Stop! I am not going to make any kind of decision until I know how many fire rigs are on the scene.”

He then directed the Operations Section Chief to call the fire scene to find out how many fire assets were committed. This took several minutes and did not produce a satisfactory answer when Chief Blakely confessed that he was not exactly sure how many rigs were on the scene because the two mutual aid teams had not reported their strength.

At 6:50 p.m., the County Commissioner Vera Morgan called the EOC. She reported that they had just lost two homes in the Los Cerros community and wanted something done immediately. Rick replied that he was working on it and would get back to her. As he hung up, Ellen noted, “She is one upset lady. We have got to invoke the Emergency Response Act. Those people need help now!” Rick responded with frustration and told her he was still assessing the situation. He warned her not to push him.

Finally, at 7:20 p.m., after Operations learned that seven houses were destroyed and that the fire had spread to within a half mile of the nuclear power plant, Rick invoked the Emergency Response Act and released State firefighting assets.

By the time the fire was controlled, it had grown to 65,000 acres, destroyed seven homes and two businesses, and burned within 300 yards of the nuclear plant. The State response time would be an issue in the Los Cuchillos community.


Leadership and Influence in Emergency Management

As the case study illustrates, effective leadership is critically important in emergency management. Ineffective leadership can result in loss of public trust, loss of property, or worse.

And the need for leadership and influence is not confined to the response and recovery phases of emergency management. Effective leadership is equally necessary for implementing mitigation programs and for emergency management preparedness and disaster prevention.


Leading and Influencing

In each phase of emergency management, leadership and influence can take many forms. For example, in a meeting, you are leading and influencing when you:

  • Invite other members of an emergency management team to discuss common goals.
  • Use that meeting as an opportunity to really listen, to learn where the others are coming from and what their interests are.
  • Ask for help with or input on a project that will help your community prepare for disasters.
  • Speak persuasively to convince others to accept your point of view.
  • Encourage someone else to assume the leadership role in a group.
  • Work to establish partnerships with neighboring communities to share resources for prevention, protection, preparedness, response, recovery, or mitigation.
  • Recognize the differences among people and draw on these strengths within your organization to prepare for emergencies.
  • Marshal local resources to respond during an emergency.
  • Demonstrate high standards of honesty, integrity, trust, openness, and respect for others.

These are only a few examples. You can probably think of many other leadership functions that you or those around you perform in the day-to-day operations of your job.


Leadership in Emergency Management

Successful leadership in Emergency Management is a critical requirement when an incident occurs. The Incident Command System (ICS) provides leaders with a system for leaders to work together and support each other in response.

The Incident Command System is part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and plays an important part of ensuring unity of command during response operations.

National Incident Management System

NIMS represents a core set of doctrines, concepts, principles, terminology, and organizational processes that enable effective, efficient, and collaborative incident management.

NIMS integrates smart practices into a comprehensive framework for use nationwide by emergency management/response personnel in an all-hazards context. These smart practices lay the groundwork for the components of NIMS and provide the mechanisms for the further development and refinement of supporting national standards, guidelines, protocols, systems, and technologies.

NIMS fosters the development of specialized technologies that facilitate emergency management and incident response activities, and allows for the adoption of new approaches that will enable continuous refinement of the system over time.

NIMS: Components

Preparedness: Effective emergency management and incident response activities begin with a host of preparedness activities conducted on an ongoing basis, in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves an integrated combination of assessment; planning; procedures and protocols; training and exercises; personnel qualifications, licensure, and certification; equipment certification; and evaluation and revision.

Communications and Information Management: Emergency management and incident response activities rely on communications and information systems that provide a common operating picture to all command and coordination sites. NIMS describes the requirements necessary for a standardized framework for communications and emphasizes the need for a common operating picture. This component is based on the concepts of interoperability, reliability, scalability, and portability, as well as the resiliency and redundancy of communications and information systems.

Resource Management: Resources (such as personnel, equipment, or supplies) are needed to support critical incident objectives. The flow of resources must be fluid and adaptable to the requirements of the incident. NIMS defines standardized mechanisms and establishes the resource management process to identify requirements, order and acquire, mobilize, track and report, recover and demobilize, reimburse, and inventory resources.

Command and Management: The Command and Management component of NIMS is designed to enable effective and efficient incident management and coordination by providing a flexible, standardized incident management structure. The structure is based on three key organizational constructs: the Incident Command System, Multiagency Coordination Systems, and Public Information.

Ongoing Management and Maintenance: Within the auspices of Ongoing Management and Maintenance, there are two components: the National Integration Center (NIC) and Supporting Technologies.


What is ICS?

ICS is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach that:

  • Allows its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure that matches the complexities and demands of incidents.
  • Permits seamless integration of responders from all jurisdictions.
  • Can be used for incidents of any type, scope, and complexity.

NIMS promotes the use of ICS for every incident or scheduled event. Using ICS on all incidents helps hone and maintain skills needed for the large-scale incidents.


Why Use ICS


  • Establishes a Common Doctrine. Having a common doctrine allows for emergency management personnel from many different jurisdictions to work together. NIMS and ICS provide a systematic, proactive approach guiding departments and agencies at all levels of government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work seamlessly to prepare for, prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property, and harm to the environment.
  • Is Based on Proven Best Practices. ICS works! It saves lives! Life safety is the top priority for ICS response.


ICS Benefits

By using management best practices, ICS helps to ensure:

  • The safety of responders, workers, and others.
  • The achievement of response objectives.
  • The efficient use of resources.


What This Means for You as a Leader

Your jurisdiction should:

  • Use ICS and NIMS to manage all incidents, including recurring and/or planned special events.
  • Integrate all response agencies and entities into a single, seamless system, from the Incident Command Post, through department Emergency Operations Centers (DEOCs) and local Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), through the State EOC to the regional- and national-level entities.
  • Develop and implement a public information system.
  • Identify and type all resources according to established standards.
  • Ensure that all personnel are trained properly for the job(s) they perform.
  • Ensure communications interoperability and redundancy.

Remember the importance of working with nongovernmental organizations, voluntary agencies, the private sector, and others to develop a plan for addressing volunteer needs before an emergency to help eliminate some of the potential problems that can occur during an emergency.


Leadership and Influence: What Do They Mean?

So, exactly what do we mean by leadership? How does it differ (if at all) from management? And where does influence fit in?

Organizational development literature contains a wide range of definitions and descriptions of leadership. Some people argue that leadership and management are quite different and that they require different perspectives and skills. Others hold the view that leadership is a facet of management and that influencing is a facet of leadership. In the context of this course, we’ll take the broad view:

A leader is someone who sets direction and influences people to follow that direction.

By this definition, a manager may or may not be a leader. This course is about developing the skills that are needed to become an effective leader.


Leadership Theories

There are numerous theories about leadership and about carrying out the role of the leader. Although this course will not delve into these theories in any depth, you may wish to seek more information on your own.

Leadership theories include the following:

  • Servant leader.
  • Democratic leader.
  • Principle-centered leader.
  • Group-man theory.
  • Great-man theory.
  • Traits theory.
  • Visionary leader.
  • Total leader.
  • Situational leader.


Self-Assessment: Leadership Behaviors

The purpose of this activity is to assess your leadership skills and priorities.

Instructions: Complete the questionnaire on the following screen, as follows.

Imagine that you have a finite amount of time and skill with which to lead your department or work group (which, by the way, you do).

  • In column one, assess your current proficiency in the 15 leadership behaviors by rating yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each behavior, with 1 representing No Proficiency, and 10 representing Full Proficiency.
  • In column two, estimate how much time you spend on each of the 15 behaviors by apportioning your sum total (100%) of actual time spent among the behaviors.
  • In column three, assess where you need to be spending your time for your work group to excel. Again, apportion your sum total (100%) of where you should be spending your time among each of the 15 behaviors.

Columns two and three must total 100%. If you feel you have no skill in an area, or devote no time to it, enter a 0.

Leadership Behaviors How proficient are you in this behavior?
Rate from 1 to 10:
1 = No Proficiency
10 = Full Proficiency
How much time do you spend on this behavior?
Estimate the numeric percentage of your time spent on each.
For your group to excel, how should you apportion your time?
Express the numeric percentage of time you should spend on each.
Plan for the future. % %
Remain up to date with emerging issues and trends. % %
Communicate a sense of where the organization will be over the long term. % %
Foster commitment. % %
Emphasize organizational values. % %
Challenge people with new goals and aspirations. % %
Create a sense of excitement or urgency. % %
Inspire people to take action. % %
Manage the efficiency of operations. % %
Evaluate proposed projects. % %
Integrate conflicting perspectives and needs. % %
Manage performance. % %
Focus on results. % %
Solve problems. % %
Influence operational decisions. % %

Adapted from Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within, by Robert E. Quinn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass:
1996 (p. 149).


Setting Personal Learning Goals



Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned about the:

  • Meaning of leadership and influence.
  • Importance of leadership in emergency management.



Lesson 2: Leadership From Within

Lesson Overview

This lesson focuses on leadership from within—the relationship between self-knowledge and effective leadership.

Part of being an effective leader is the ability to create an environment that encourages self-discovery and the testing of assumptions that may impede growth, change, and the development of a shared vision. As we work to increase self-knowledge, balance inquiry and advocacy, and solicit authentic feedback, we free ourselves—and our organization—to embrace constructive change.

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe how self-knowledge and understanding contribute to effective leadership.
  • Use self-assessment, self-reflection, and authentic feedback to increase your self-knowledge.
  • Identify factors that underlie your thought process and affect your ability to lead.
  • Differentiate between inquiry and advocacy and identify strategies for balancing the two.
  • Identify personal goals for improving your inner capacity for leadership.


Where Leadership Begins

In his book, Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life, Kevin Cashman said:

“We tend to view leadership as an external event . . . as something we do. Rather, leadership is an intimate expression of who we are; it is our being in action.”

In other words, we tend to think of leadership as telling others what to do instead of looking inside ourselves and thinking about how our leadership actions reflect who we are. Thus, instead of thinking, “What action should I take in this situation?” perhaps we ought to think more broadly and look at how our view of the world impacts our decisions, and how the messages that we send through our language and actions impact others.


Paradigms That Guide Thinking

Paradigms are mental models that provide a structure for our thoughts and guide our thinking. They help us make sense of all of the information that we encounter by telling us what to pay attention to, how to arrange what we pay attention to, how to draw conclusions, and how to interpret things. This process is guided by a set of unconscious assumptions that we carry to make sense of what we experience.

We develop our paradigms over time from our family, region of the country, cultural niche, or organizations—any environment in which we learn the written or unwritten rules that guide our behavior.

Paradigms are useful in that they help us structure how to think about and act in a situation. They cause problems when we think that our paradigm is the only paradigm. When we view people who have different paradigms as thinking in confusing, unpredictable, irrational, immoral, or unethical ways, it frequently creates conflict.


Three Leadership Paradigms

Leaders operate in many different ways at work. Sometimes leaders focus on their work or the work of their immediate group. Sometimes leaders are trying to get along with others, and keep things working as well as they can. Sometimes leaders have a broader vision of their place in the organization and their influence within it.

Different perspectives adopted by leaders can be viewed as three common work paradigms. Each paradigm impacts the leader’s work and that of the entire organization. The paradigms are:

  • The Hired Hand
  • The Broker
  • The Leader

Leaders don’t work out of just one of these paradigms at a given time and for any given situation. The paradigms complement each other, and leaders draw upon each one based on their understanding of the situation at hand, in order to address it.

The following provides an overview of how operating out of each paradigm causes leaders to view and react to different aspects of their work.

Sees the Organization as . . .

The Hired Hand sees the organization as a means to an end. Hired hands want to accomplish their work and need the organization to facilitate it. The barometer of the success of the organization, its units, and its employees is whether or not each completes the work they set out to do, and how well they do it.

The Broker wants to accomplish his or her goals as well, but sees the organization as made up of smaller groups of individuals working together to achieve their own goals. Brokers judge the organization on how well its units and individuals interact and “cut deals” to get work done.

The Leader sees the organization as made up of individuals working together to set and meet goals they couldn’t achieve by themselves. The ability to work effectively together, to make the sum greater than its parts, is the standard used to judge the organization.

Source of Power . . .

Hired Hands get credibility from their ability to be the best at their job. Their power is based both on their technical competence and on how others view their competence (their reputation).

The Broker’s credibility stems from his or her position within the hierarchy of the organization. The brokers who get things done are the most successful.

The Leader’s credibility is based in personal integrity and others’ belief in it. Leaders’ greatest asset is others’ trust in them. They wield their power to empower others.

Perceives Senior Management As . . .

The Hired Hand feels that in a perfect world, there would be no need for senior management—it produces nothing and gets in the way of progress.

The Broker perceives senior management as a grantor of privileges and people to curry favor from. Being a member of senior management is a great honor because they make decisions that impact many.

The Leader understands that senior management is there to lead and provide vision. Leaders believe that senior management should set the proper moral tone for the organization and “do the right thing.”

Handles Opposition By . . .

The Hired Hand will engage in argument based on empirical evidence and fact. Hired hands appeal to the rational in those that oppose them.

The Broker works from the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” school of conflict management. Compromises are made that provide what brokers, and whomever they are making deals with, to get what they want.

The Leader strives to address complex and competing needs fairly in any situation, and thinks of creative, equitable solutions to any challenge.

Communication Style . . .

The Hired Hand sticks to the facts—everything else is nonsense that distracts people from the true issue at hand.

The Broker focuses on the facts but tries to make sense of them, ascribing meaning to create a big picture of what discrete events mean when considered together.

The Leader realizes that humans look for meaning beyond the simple facts, and is sensitive to the perceived meaning of their actions. Leaders strive to understand others as well as be understood.

Main Goal . . .

The Hired Hand wants to advance his or her own work and receive credit for it.

Brokers want to advance their own work as well, but in this case it is their position within the hierarchy.

The Leader is focused on defining and carrying out goals for the common good.


Balancing the Paradigms: Three Lenses of Leadership

In thinking about these three different ways that leaders may look at the world, is one right and are the others wrong? Of course not. Everyone displays attributes of all three. However, individuals acting out of the paradigm of the Leader will be most effective and have the greatest impact over time.

In the final analysis, your paradigm is a way of thinking that guides your behavior, decisions, and actions. Given the complexity of the challenges you encounter as an emergency management professional today and in the future, you’ll want your thinking to be as multidimensional as possible.

Considering the three paradigms will help you expand the range of your thinking. Think of them as three lenses through which to view a situation and determine your actions.


Telescopic Lens

The telescopic lens has the longest term view. When you look through this lens, you’re more likely to:

  • Establish your beliefs and values and be consistent with them.
  • Determine a course for change in the future and articulate it as a vision.
  • Stimulate coworkers and yourself to challenge traditional ways of thinking.
  • Develop yourself and others to the highest levels of potential.


Mid-Distance Lens

When you look through the mid-distance lens, your view is focused on short term goals. You’re likely to focus on articulating standards, expectations, goals, and rewards, and the consequences for not meeting expectations.


Microscopic Lens

When you look through the microscopic lens, your view is like that of the individual contributor. You may be part of a task force or team where your focus is on detail-oriented, task-specific work and your style is more laid back.


Growing as a Leader

For most of us, growing as a leader requires us to become aware of our paradigms and develop the ability to view situations through the three lenses just described.

What it takes. To grow as a leader, you may need to let go of behaviors and beliefs about leadership that are comfortable for you but that no longer serve you well. You may have to stop doing some things you’re good at and love to do, and instead delegate them to someone else to further that person’s professional development. Or, you may begin to rethink behaviors that haven’t served you well and consider how to change them.

Benefits. Moving away from old habits and out of your comfort zone can free you to expand the ways in which you think about leadership, change your behaviors and actions to become more effective, and move freely between the paradigms through more conscious choices.


Benefits of Increased Self-Knowledge

Self-knowledge is a common trait among great leaders. Effective leaders tend to look inside themselves. They are centered, have an internal locus of control, and exhibit self-understanding and self-confidence. Most leaders find that increased self-knowledge helps them:

  • Understand others.
  • Understand and manage their reactions to others.
  • Appreciate others’ points of view.
  • Leverage their strengths.
  • Strengthen or compensate for their weaknesses.
  • Earn trust.
  • Be aware of how they impact others, both positively and negatively.
  • Have more self-confidence.


The Johari Window

The Johari Window, developed by Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, is a model that provides a visual way to think about self-knowledge. This model delineates four quadrants involved in interpersonal relationships:

  • The open area is what we both know about me and openly share.
  • The hidden area is what I hide from you about myself.
  • The blind area is what you know about me what you keep from me, what you observe about me, or think or feel about me, of which I am unaware.
  • The unknown area is part of me, from my past, about which neither one of us yet knows, at least on a conscious level.

Source: Joe Luft and Harry Ingham. “The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness,” Proceedings of the Western Training Laboratory in Group Development. Los Angeles: UCLA, 1955.



Ways To Increase Self-Knowledge

Whether or not you consider yourself a self-aware person, there are many ways to learn more about yourself and how you lead. Three important methods include:

  1. Self-Assessment
  2. Self-Reflection
  3. Soliciting Authentic Feedback



We tend to be an outward-oriented society. That tendency leads us to think that both our problems and their solutions are outside of us. Our culture doesn’t put a high priority on self-assessment.

The upside of this orientation is that we become good at recognizing and analyzing the world outside ourselves. But the downside is that we tend to overlook the ways in which we ourselves are impacting the world around us. We tend to be less aware of the choices we make, our own responses to situations, and our own resources that can help us succeed.

Our outward orientation can blind us to perhaps our most important and readily available resources: our own talents, preferences, and choices.


Self-Assessment Approaches

In the previous unit, you completed a simple self-assessment that focused on proficiency and time spent on various leadership activities. You can repeat that assessment from time to time to maintain awareness of your leadership skills and growth.

Another approach is to get others to rate you using the same instrument. The resulting information will give you an idea about the degree to which your view of yourself is aligned with how others see you. If you develop self-assessment as a habit, over time you will be able to see yourself with greater honesty and accuracy.



Self-reflection, another method for increasing awareness about oneself, is the ability to “hit the pause button” and critically assess yourself or a situation.

Why is self-reflection important to leadership?

  • Self-reflection helps you ensure that you are taking actions that are sound and not simply running on “auto pilot,” but rather are conscious about doing what is most important in any given situation.
  • Self-reflection can help you learn from your experience to avoid the trap of simply repeating things that aren’t working.
  • Self-reflection allows you to notice your habitual ways of responding so that you have the option of approaching things differently.


Self-Reflection Methods

There are many ways to reflect, and some methods may work better for you than others. One approach is just to take a short timeout in which you simply stop and think. Other approaches include:

  • Journal writing.
  • Note taking.
  • Talking to others (thinking out loud).
  • Speaking into a tape recorder.
  • Meditation.
  • Drawing pictures.


Authentic Feedback

The third technique for increasing self-knowledge is soliciting authentic feedback from others. Leaders who know themselves and let others know them are those who command respect and trust. Soliciting feedback is one of the most effective methods for increasing the open area of the Johari Window, “Known to Self and Others.”

Feedback is critical to self-knowledge, and thus, to your ability to lead. It helps you to know if you are leading in ways that are effective for those whom you lead.

Feedback can be informal. We usually think of feedback as a formal process that happens once or twice a year. But you don’t have to wait for a formal process to get feedback. In fact, the more informally and frequently you get feedback, the better. It is vital to ask for and receive feedback in a way that encourages others to tell us the truth as they see it.

Feedback requires trust. People may be reluctant to give you honest feedback if they don’t trust you. That willingness to be honest is built on trust that develops over time. And to some extent, most of us have a tendency (usually unconscious) to do things that inhibit others from giving us truthful feedback. Down deep, we may not really want the truth.

What can you do to encourage others to give you their honest feedback? On the next screen are some tips for encouraging authentic feedback.

Tips for Encouraging Authentic Feedback

  • Before you ask for feedback, be clear in your own mind why you’re asking.
  • Ask for feedback only when you are open to hearing it.
  • Listen to what the others have to say. Take notes.
  • Avoid being defensive. Don’t try to explain yourself during the feedback process.
  • Restate what the speakers have told you, to make sure that you understand what they’ve said.
  • Ask followup questions to gain clarity; get specifics. For example:
    • “Can you give me some specifics?”
    • “What impact is that having?”
    • “Can you tell me more about that?”
  • Thank them.
  • When possible, make changes as a result of the feedback.
  • Initially, ask infrequently until others see that you’re willing to make changes based on earlier feedback given you. Remember that you need to build trust in the fact that you really want to hear what they have to say and that you will do something to change.


Assessing Feedback

Remember, those acting out of the Leader paradigm are leaders of change. The best way you can model to others that change is welcome is to grow and change yourself. Soliciting feedback is one of the best ways to show the people you lead that you are open to input and willing to change. Then, take action on the feedback that you feel is valid.

You are not required to adopt every bit of feedback that people give you. But try thinking about feedback as similar to the gifts you receive for your birthday. To some of them, you’ll say, “YES! GREAT!” To others, you’ll say, “Thank you,” and put them in your closet. Nevertheless, you will benefit more if you stay open to all of the feedback, consider it carefully and with an open mind, and incorporate what seems valid.


Self-Assessment: Authentic Feedback


  1. Identify at least three people from whom you can solicit authentic feedback about your leadership. They may be subordinates, those with more authority than you, peers, or others. If possible, try to identify people who can offer different perspectives on your leadership.
  2. Jot down notes about your feedback strategy—for example, good situations in which to invite their feedback, timing, lead questions, areas of your leadership you hope to learn more about from this person, and so on.


Understanding How You Think

In the last section, we talked about receiving feedback without explaining or defending yourself. Have you ever noticed what happens when you really listen to another person without intending to respond? Perhaps not, because most of us listen only rarely. Usually what we hear is received through many filters, including:

  • Assumptions and biases.
  • Resistances and barriers stemming from a different set of beliefs.
  • Preoccupation with identifying areas of agreement with our own beliefs, and the significance of such agreement.
  • Thinking about how we will respond.

Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between what a person actually says and how we interpret what they said. In other words, our own beliefs affect what and how we hear.


Ladder of Inference

Business theorist Chris Argyris put forth a model, later discussed by Peter Senge, that explains our thinking process as we interact with the world. This seven-step process is called the Ladder of Inference. According to this model, as we move up the ladder our beliefs affect what we infer about what we observe and therefore become part of how we experience our interaction with other people.

Ladder of Inference graphic: Steps going up: 1. All the information in the world; 2. I select data from what I observe; 3. I add meanings (cultural and personal); 4. I make assumptions based on the meanings I added; 5. I draw conclusions; 6. I adopt beliefs about the world; 7. I take actions based on my beliefs.

Source: Peter M. Senge. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1994.

One example of the ladder of influence would be only “hearing” that which supports your own argument. But the process is usually much more subtle. Your background influences the meanings that you ascribe to what you hear, which in turn leads you to make assumptions. In fact, your beliefs affect which data you select in the first place.


Walking Down the Ladder of Influence

If you take the time to “walk” down the Ladder of Inference, you can learn a great deal about how your own beliefs, assumptions, background, culture, and other influences (i.e., your own personal paradigm) affect how you interpret what others say and how you interact with them.

It is also a useful tool for reaching a better understanding of those you lead.


Self-Reflection: Ladder of Influence

Instructions: Look at the front page of your daily newspaper, and pick a story. Read the story, then answer this question:


Using the Ladder of Inference To Create a Leadership Environment

The Ladder of Inference is also a useful tool for creating a leadership environment. As you interact with other people, try walking down the ladder to gain a better understanding of how you—and they—think.

  • Listen carefully to what people actually say. Try not to interpret at first.
  • Listen for conclusions and beliefs—yours and theirs.
    • Do they jump to conclusions?
    • What conclusions are you making as you listen?
  • Listen for directly observable data.
    • Can you form a picture in your mind of what they are saying?
    • Ask yourself: What led them to think as they do?
  • Suspend your certainties and conclusions.
    • Do they act as if their conclusions are obvious? Do you?
    • Are there other ways of seeing things?
  • What must be the Ladder of Inference in their minds?


Inquiry and Advocacy

What happens when you sit down with another person or a group of people and discuss something (an issue, a plan, a goal, a problem)? A healthy discussion will include first inquiry, then advocacy.

Inquiry involves talking with other people and learning from them. At this stage, you are not judging, arguing, or trying to present your own viewpoint. You are just learning.

During this phase you should strive not only to hear the other person’s words, but to learn about their mental models to understand where they are coming from and what they are really saying.

This is also a time for observing your own thoughts, checking out your Ladder of Inference. Inquiry requires that you suspend assumptions. This does not mean laying them aside, but rather bringing them forward and making them explicit so that you and the others can explore their meaning and impact.

A second aspect of communication, after the inquiry stage, is advocacy. Advocacy involves “selling” an idea or position or directing attention to certain facts you think are relevant. This is when you begin to evaluate ideas, narrow the field, and work toward consensus.

In a team context, inquiry and advocacy are sometimes called dialogue and discussion. During the dialogue phase, everyone should be in an inquiry mode—sharing facts, ideas, and opinions, without evaluating or defending them. By the time you move to the discussion phase, everyone should have a common understanding of all of the facts and viewpoints. Then comes a discussion, when you try to determine what you believe in.

The problem in many teams is that they tend to move too quickly to discussion, without adequate inquiry. This habit has the effect of stifling creative thinking and undermining trust.


Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy

The key, both within yourself and in working with a team, is to balance inquiry and advocacy. You need both.

In your efforts to develop self-knowledge, be aware of your intentions behind your inquiry and advocacy, and strive to balance the two. Then work to enable your group to do the same.

Tips for Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy

  • Become aware of the gap between what you intend and what you actually do. Notice other people’s reactions to you: Are they what you expected? Why or why not? Make an effort to understand and begin to close this gap.
  • Let go of the win/lose mindset of controlled discussion. Decide to learn from others.
  • Make your thinking process visible, and ask others to do the same. State your assumptions, explain your reasoning, and give examples.
  • Avoid defensiveness when your ideas are questioned.
  • Be aware when you or others are jumping to conclusions.
  • Gently walk others down the Ladder of Inference and find out what data the others are operating from. Use unaggressive language (e.g., “Can you help me understand your thinking here?”).
  • Listen without resistance. Hear ideas as if for the first time.
  • Respect differences.
  • Suspend role and status during dialogue; let leadership become a shared responsibility of the whole group.
  • Try to bring forward people who have not spoken, and prompt them to add their views.
  • Take risks by participating and being willing to make mistakes. Speak from your own experience.
  • When advocating, stay open and encourage others to give different views.
  • If you notice that a discussion is lopsided, let the group know what you’ve observed. Help the group to balance inquiry and advocacy by making your own contributions in a way that creates more balance.


Self-Assessment: Your Inner Leader

Instructions: Think about a specific group that you are responsible for leading. In the Johari Window below, fill in the following information:

  1. Open Area: Things about you that are known both to you and to the group.
  2. Hidden Area: Things about you that you know but the group doesn’t know.

Try to list at least five things in each area.

Known to Self Unknown to Self
Known to Others Open Area: Type your response here.






Blind Area

Unknown to Others Hidden Area: Type your response here.






Unknown Area

Submit your answer


Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned about the:

  • Importance of self-knowledge as a resource for effective leadership.
  • Paradigms that guide thinking—specifically three leadership paradigms: the Hired Hand, Broker, and Leader paradigms.
  • Johari Window as a visual way to think about self-knowledge and explored ways to increase self-knowledge through self-assessment, self-reflection, and soliciting authentic feedback.
  • Ladder of Inference and its relationship to inquiry and advocacy and reviewed strategies for balancing inquiry and advocacy.



Lesson 3: Facilitating Change

Lesson Overview

The previous lessons described a leader as someone who sets direction and influences people to follow that direction. Someone working out of the Leader paradigm is able to determine a course for change in the future, articulate it as a vision, and stimulate coworkers and self to challenge traditional ways of thinking. The process of becoming a more effective leader often involves personal change—leaving behind some old, comfortable behaviors and considering how to change behaviors that haven’t served you well.

In this unit, we will explore the topic of change and how to lead change effectively.

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe key components of the change process.
  • Identify methods for effectively communicating about change.
  • Identify strategies for facilitating change among employees and other stakeholders.


The Changing Environment

A challenge throughout business, industry, and government today is learning to adapt to the nonstop, rapid changes that are impacting us.

In emergency management, change may come in many forms: new policies and procedures, evolving technology and equipment, shifting priorities and issues, increasing community emphasis on mitigation and prevention, new methodologies, and many others. In fact, the whole concept of emergency management implies response to sudden change, often with little warning, but ideally with adequate preparation.

A crucial skill that employees and community members must learn if they are to succeed in today’s environment is the ability to respond quickly and effectively to change. An effective leader is able to motivate and inspire others to embrace change.


Responses to Change

People respond to change in different ways. Consider the people in the following story for example:


John, Sarah, Sunil, and Eileen all manage different departments in the Springfield City government. Budget cuts have just been announced, and the city commissioners want to understand what each of their departments does. They have asked these managers to explain why they should continue to receive funding.

Each of these managers’ responses captures how they feel about change.

John was angered at yet another round of budget cuts, and instead of providing the requested information, set up a meeting with the city commissioners to argue against them.

Sarah got to work the moment she received the county commissioners’ request, convinced that she would make a convincing case.

Sunil was initially shocked to hear the news, and spent 2 days thinking of other possible solutions to the problem before finally settling down and working on the commissioners’ request.

Eileen rationalized that since the city commissioners’ terms would end within 6 months, she could stall for time until they, and their request, were hopefully gone.


Self-Reflection: How Have You Responded to Change? (1 of 2)

Think of an instance when you were faced with a major change in the workplace. Then answer the following questions:

  • How did you prepare yourself to make the change?
  • What challenges did you meet along the way?
  • Who or what drove you, or supported you, in making the change?


Self-Reflection: How Have You Responded to Change? (2 of 2)

What is the most significant internal (personal) change that you have ever made?

  • Can you identify with any of the four characters in the story, in terms of the way that you responded?
  • How did you know that you needed to make the change?
  • How did you prepare yourself to make the change?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • Who or what drove you, or supported you, in making the change?


What Is at Stake?

Most organizations, whether private or public, have been facing wave after wave of significant change that will only increase in volume, speed, and intensity in the future. With all of the change going on, the cost of failed change has become high for organizations. There is an equally high “human toll” from failed change because the first casualty is loss of trust. Compound that loss with the emergency management goal of protecting life and property in the face of disasters, and the potential loss is great indeed.


Facilitating Change

It is helpful to understand the stages of any change process and what is needed for each stage to make the process successful.

The stages of the change process we will discuss are:

  • Defining and Promoting the Change
  • Planning and Implementing the Change
  • Maintaining the Change
  • Engaging People in the Change

These stages are described on the following screens, and it is important to note that this is not a linear process. You will often find yourself working in many stages of the process simultaneously.


Defining and Promoting the Change

Implementing and managing change is a difficult process. Without a strong, sensible rationale for making the change it will be a struggle to engage staff in the process. People involved need to understand:

  • What the change is.
  • Why the change is necessary.
  • What the change means to them and the organization.
  • Why the change needs to happen now.


Leading the Change

Defining and promoting the change will help overcome resistance to change and engage people in the process. The person to successfully lead change needs to have certain characteristics.

To lead change effectively, a leader must:

  • Be trustworthy, reliable, and influential.
  • Initiate change but not micromanage or control it.
  • Listen to and advocate for both organizational and individual needs.
  • Communicate that opportunities are available in the change.
  • Maintain public visibility and accessibility during the process.


Planning and Implementing the Change

It is critical to understand the change process, how to effectively manage it, and how to address any problems that could arise.

Planning and implementing the change includes:

  • Defining actions and tasks that need to take place to advance the change.
  • Assigning responsibilities for these actions and tasks.
  • Creating a timeline for the change process.
  • Dealing with potential problems that may arise along the way, including staff resistance and how to address it.
  • Defining a means of assessing progress.
  • Monitoring the impact of the change on staff and the organization.
  • Developing a feedback loop that can provide information to fine tune the change process as it develops.


Planning and Implementing the Change: Critical Tools

Critical tools that will be needed for this stage include:

  • Clearly defined policies.
  • Action and communication plans.
  • Resources, such as staff training and communication channels.

It is vital to include staff with key administrative and organizational authority, as well as those with expertise or technical capacity in these processes, to ensure successful adoption of the change by the largest number of staff.


Maintaining the Change

It seems odd that change, which is itself an active process, needs to be maintained. However, inertia, resistance, and burnout can all slow, and even stall, the change process.

Maintaining the change means:

  • Continually engaging those whose support of the process is critical.
  • Listening to staff concerns and responding to staff needs.
  • Providing staff what they need to support the change.


Engaging People in the Change

Engaging people in the change is largely about maintaining relationships with people during the change process. This stage includes:

  • Asking for feedback during the process.
  • Accepting a wide range of responses to the change.
  • Effectively and sincerely responding to the staff feedback and requests.

When applying the process to a change situation that you face, you can use these questions to analyze the situation and develop strategies for effecting change.

Change Process Questions

The following questions relate to each stage of the change process. When applying the process to a change situation, these questions can help you analyze the situation and develop strategies for effecting change.

Defining and Promoting the Change

  • What must happen for this change to be successful? How should this process be communicated to employees or other stakeholders?
  • What are the opportunities associated with the change? How can the fear be taken out of the change?
  • How can you demonstrate continuous support for, and sponsorship of, this change initiative?
  • In what specific ways can you be a catalyst, rather than a controller, of the change?
  • What challenges might you encounter in balancing the needs of the organization and those of individuals? How can you manage these challenges?
  • How can you “walk the talk” during this change initiative? What pitfalls will you need to avoid?
  • What is the rationale for this change? That is, what are we trying to accomplish with the change? How should this rationale be communicated to employees or other stakeholders?
  • How can the change initiative be linked to the organization’s or the community’s strategy, mission, and environment?
  • What mechanisms can be used to keep lines of communication with employees and/or stakeholders open and to inform them of progress being made?

Planning and Implementing the Change

  • What is the vision for this change—i.e., what would you like to see happen as a result of this change? What do you see as the benefits of the change?
  • What are the major components of a plan for this change?
  • How can you keep employees and/or stakeholders involved in the process?
  • What potential problems and opportunities are associated with this change?
  • What existing systems might need to be modified to reinforce needed changes?
  • What mechanisms should be put in place for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the change?
  • What potential resistance points might you encounter? How can you manage this resistance?
  • How might production be impacted and how can you manage this impact?
  • What resources will be needed to implement this change successfully? How can you secure these resources?
  • What interim systems might you need to implement? How should they be implemented?

Maintaining the Change

  • What formal and informal mechanisms can you use to communicate the change?
  • How can you sustain energy and commitment to this change over time?
  • Whose support will be critical to the successful implementation of this change? How will you gain their support?
  • What might employees and/or stakeholders need to accept and support this change?
  • What small successes can you celebrate? How?

Engaging People in the Change

  • What reactions to this change initiative do you anticipate from employees and/or stakeholders?
  • What pitfalls should you avoid when responding to these reactions?
  • What mechanisms can you use to solicit employee and/or stakeholder concerns? How can you demonstrate that you are listening to their concerns about the change?
  • In what ways can you monitor their comments and feedback?


Communicating Change

Communication is the common thread that is woven throughout all of the change process components. The ability to communicate effectively about change is a critical aspect of a leader’s success at facilitating change.

Many of us have heard of the 5 Ws and 1 H of writing a news story (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How). Leaders must effectively communicate the story of change using a reworked version of this news story framework. They must explain:

  • Why?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Who?


Telling Why and What


People need to understand the purpose for the change, and how it relates to the organization’s bigger picture. Key questions might be, “What problem are we addressing with this change?” and “What opportunity are we trying to capitalize on?”


A leader must communicate what the future will look like because of the change. What will the organization look like? Where will the staff and other stakeholders fit in? The more detailed the information, the better.


Telling How

Staff members must understand what will happen as the plan unfolds. This communication about the change process takes the form of a step-by-step plan of how the change will be carried out, and how and when training and resources to facilitate the change will be distributed.


Telling Who

Everyone involved in the process must understand what their individual part in the change process will be; specifically:

  • How their jobs will change,
  • How they will contribute to the change process, and
  • How they will help define the change process itself.

You may not always have all the information required to communicate the why, what, how, and who. However, it is your responsibility as a leader to get the information needed by those involved in or impacted by change. (Remember, this kind of information enables those who are hesitant or uncertain to move forward.)

Tips for Communicating About Change

Here are some additional tips for communicating about change.

  • Communicate first through action, then words.

    In other words, “walk the talk.” Your statements, no matter how well crafted, will only deliver a conflicting and ultimately alienating message if your behavior is inconsistent with the underlying values or vision being expressed.

    Behavioral integrity, the hallmark of the Leader paradigm, is of utmost importance when communicating change. As a leader, you are expected to walk the talk and to operate with integrity. If you twist the truth or spin the facts, people will become distrustful and you will lose their respect.

  • Recognize that perceptions will become distorted.

    During times of change, perceptions become distorted. Employees will read underlying messages into what they see and hear, inferring messages behind actions and statements—even when no message is intended. Keeping people informed and being honest with them go a long way in countering unfounded perceptions.

  • Remember the “rule of six.”

    When people receive new information, they often don’t “get it” the first time around, even though we think they should have. That’s why it’s important to communicate new information related to the change six times, in six different ways.

  • Anticipate and allow for strong emotions.

    Allow people to “let off steam.” Recognize and communicate that emotions are not only natural, but also a necessary part of the change and transition process. Find productive venues for people to express their anger, frustration, confusion, anxiety, and other emotions.


Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned how a leader facilitates change, including:

  • Key components of the change process model.
  • Methods for effectively communicating about change.

For change to take place effectively in an organization, mutual trust must exist between the leader and those who are being encouraged to embrace change.



Lesson 4: Building and Rebuilding Trust

Lesson Overview

In the last lesson, we examined the phenomenon of change, and how an effective leader facilitates change. One of the most striking casualties of change is trust. The speed and frequency of change, and its sometimes unintended consequences, often result in erosion of loyalty and trust that can continue to undermine an organization for years.

The relationship between change and trust is full of irony. You can’t effectively facilitate change without mutual trust. But one of the hardest things to do in a changing organization is to build trust. Even more difficult is to rebuild trust after it is lost.

In this lesson, we will examine the issue of trust and explore ways in which an effective leader can build or rebuild trust among employees and other emergency management stakeholders.


Lesson Objectives

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the role of trust as it relates to emergency management.
  • Examine your personal capacity to trust and to generate trust.
  • Identify behaviors that build trust or mistrust.
  • Develop strategies for building or rebuilding trust in your own leadership situation.


What Is Trust?

Trust is a relationship based on mutual confidence that we will both:

  • Do what we say.
  • Communicate honestly.
  • Respect one another’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
  • Keep our interactions unguarded.

Trust is a state of mind. Notice that all of the items listed above are actions. It’s not our words that generate trust, but what we do. The real message is in our actions. Trust is a combination of trusting others and being trustworthy.


What’s So Important About Trust?

Trust is a fundamental building block of human relationships. Trust is also the very core of leadership. Willing followers must trust their leaders. (Without trust, no one will follow.) But trust cannot be mandated; it must be earned.

Individuals working out of the Leader paradigm get their credibility and power from behavioral integrity—walking the talk and talking the walk. Leaders’ power comes from their consistent, principle-centered behavior and actions that demonstrate honesty, integrity, trust, dignity, and respect for all people. People choose to follow leaders because of their actions.


Benefits of a High-Trust Environment

A high-trust environment creates commitment and loyalty to the organization. When people become convinced that, “We’re all in this boat together,” the organization is invariably better for it.

In a high-trust environment, leaders tell the truth, and people are enlightened about the organization’s position and what actions they need to take to help achieve its goals.

In a high-trust environment, people are more willing to accept change and to work toward successfully integrating the effects of change.


Trust in Emergency Management

Every manager has an important leadership role in building a high-trust environment with his or her employees. As a leader within emergency management, you have a complex role of building trust at multiple levels. Trust is a necessary element of:

  • Leading your subordinates to work energetically toward meeting the organization’s goals.
  • Developing trusting relationships with other levels of the government hierarchy to ensure a coordinated response to the needs of the community in times of crisis.
  • Working with other agencies in joint prevention, protection, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts, including evaluation of hazards, planning, interagency exercises, and voluntary agreements.
  • Teaming with other agencies in disaster response and recovery efforts.
  • Developing constructive relationships with the media.
  • Building positive relationships with the public that will foster willing response and cooperation during times of emergency.


Trust in Action

The effective response to the first World Trade Center bombing was attributed to the years of interagency cooperation, careful evaluation of hazards and planning, and meaningful interagency exercises. This same foundation of trust undoubtedly played an equally important part in the cooperative response efforts that followed the 2001 attack that destroyed the World Trade Center.

In short:

Your relationships with local, State, and Federal officials, with other organizations, with the media, and with the public will affect your ability to manage a disaster successfully. Those relationships are built on a foundation of trust.


Building Trust

When things are continually changing, it can become difficult to build a case for trust. It’s almost as if you are saying, “Trust me—I’ve never done this either!”

In these times of rapid change, more than ever before, your challenge as a leader is to build trust where it has never been and to rebuild trust where it has been lost.

Many of the strategies discussed in Lesson 3 will help you to minimize the erosion of trust. How else can you, as a leader, build trust among your constituents—whether they are employees, those above you in rank, your peers in other organizations, the media, or the public?


Building and Nurturing Trust

Building and nurturing trust in the workplace requires leaders who:

  • Honestly describe any situation they are in, including discussing any loss of trust that has occurred.
  • Respect others and relationships with them during tough times as well as when things are smooth sailing.
  • Nurture understanding and empathy with themselves and with others.
  • Desire to build and maintain a cooperative organizational culture.


Am I Trustworthy?

Demonstrating trustworthiness is critical if you want to successfully manage change. You should periodically gauge how worthy of trust your own behavior is. You can use the following questions as a starting point.

  • Is my behavior predictable or erratic?

    Do people know what to expect from me? Do my actions match the values I espouse? Your actions should match your words and should stay constant regardless of the situation or people around you.

  • Do I communicate clearly or carelessly?

    Some people speak without thinking of the impression their words leave behind and how they impact people’s lives. When you speak without considering the impact of your words, people begin to think you are flippant and not worthy of trust.

  • Do I keep my promises?

    If you don’t keep your promises, then neither will the people who work with you. If people cannot tell what you value and will follow through on, confusion and mistrust will result.

  • Am I forthright or dishonest?

    No one trusts someone who lies. Honesty doesn’t mean that you disclose everything when it isn’t appropriate, but you need to be honest about what you can and cannot discuss.


What Is Your Capacity for Trust?

Your ability to trust others reflects to some extent your ability to trust yourself. The following questions will help you begin to think about your capacity for trusting others.

  • Do you trust yourself?
    • In what types of situations can you answer “yes” and in which is the answer “no”?
    • In what ways do you consider yourself reliable?
    • In what ways do you consider yourself unreliable?
  • Do you trust others?
    • When can you say “yes” to this question? When do you say “no”?
    • What do you look for when considering whether another person is trustworthy?
  • Do you trust people as a habit, or do you wait for them to prove themselves?
    • How does your willingness to trust others affect how you work with them?


Deciding To Trust

Your capacity for building trusting relationships, in general, is a function of your propensity to use trust-enhancing behaviors and the degree to which you expect others to use them.

But what about specific relationships? Your decision to trust a specific person, and the degree of trust that you place in that person, are influenced by many factors, including:

  • History and experience with that individual.
  • The person’s level of competence and ability.
  • How much risk is involved, or the potential for negative consequences.
  • The person’s relative power and authority.
  • The organizational environment.

Some people will still let you down. Does that mean that you shouldn’t trust?

No, because although trust can be person-specific and situation-specific, you still have a general propensity to (or not to) trust. Most people can expand their capacity for trust.


Expanding Your Capacity for Trust

First, you can simply be aware of the kinds of behaviors that help to build and maintain interpersonal trust, including those that you personally tend to (or not to) demonstrate.

Then, you can identify instances, examples, and situations where you can try to use those trusting behaviors (that you might not use enough) more frequently.


Trust-Reducing Behaviors

Just as consistently fulfilling expectations strengthens trust, failure to act in these ways invariably undermines and erodes trust. For example, the following types of behavior will invariably reduce trust:

  • Distorting, withholding, or concealing real motives.
  • Falsifying relevant information.
  • Attempting to control or dominate.
  • Not discussing or meeting others’ expectations of performance or behavior.
  • Attempting to evade responsibility for behavior.
  • Accepting credit for other people’s work.
  • Not honoring commitments.
  • Gossiping.

Any of these behaviors can be intentional or unintentional. Remember, building trust is a slow process, and trust can be destroyed by a single event. Trust is destroyed by a win/lose mentality, and trust is strengthened by a win/win mentality.


When Trust Breaks Down

You’ll probably survive one unintentional breach of trust, especially if you take action to address the situation. But as unintentional breaches accumulate, other people will eventually begin to distrust you. With their distrust will come the belief that your intentions are not sincere and that you have ulterior motives.

After you’ve breached trust, it is important to determine how best to restore it. Below and on the following screen are six actions that you can take to recover from a mistake that may have unintentionally damaged trust.

  1. Accept: Accept personal responsibility for your actions and those of your organization.
  2. Admit: Publicly acknowledge that you made a mistake. Many times, leaders either deny or attempt to cover up any wrongdoing for fear that admitting a mistake might damage their credibility. Evidence shows that attempting to hide mistakes will be much more damaging and will actually erode trust.
  3. Apologize: Offer an apology. Apologizing lets others know that you are concerned about the impact or problem that your actions may have created.
  4. Act: Take action to deal with the immediate consequences of a mistake. Action lets employees know that you are willing to do something. Taking action to rectify a mistake is a good time to get others involved by asking for suggestions and trusting their judgment.
  5. Amend: Make amends. A leader’s error can cause undue hardship to others. The amends should fit the problem.
  6. Attend: Leaders need to make sure that they are attuned to the influence their actions are having on rebuilding lost trust. Pay close attention to the reactions of those who are affected, ask for feedback, and be nondefensive in listening to constructive criticism. This should also help you avoid unintentional breaches of trust in the future.


Case Study: The Grapevine, Part 1

John Wallace leads the Logistics department at an emergency response organization. When he assumed the position a year ago, he encountered numerous personnel problems. Since then, he has worked to change the culture. He established clear expectations and timelines, and he has given people clear and ongoing feedback on their performance. John prides himself on being open, honest, and fair and has been forthright with his own supervisor, Juanita Kelly, division director for Operations.

Two employees, Dewayne and Ella, tell John what they heard at lunch. Two team leaders from the other department in their division said they had heard that senior management had decided to go with a new software package that Logistics had been testing. The package will be used in deployment and tracking of emergency resources (including personnel, equipment, supplies, volunteers, shelter space, and donations) as well as purchasing and replacement. The decision was made despite the department’s recommendation to the contrary because of bugs in the program. They also heard that there would be staffing cuts to pay for the software and take advantage of the efficiencies it’s supposed to create.

John had heard several months ago that the package would undergo further testing, and he hadn’t heard much about it since. So he tells Dewayne and Ella that it’s probably all speculation and that there’s no truth to the rumors. If it were true, he would have heard about it long before they did because of how well-connected he is with the division’s decisionmakers.

The next day, the software implementation and its impact on division personnel comes up in a staff meeting, and John again disputes the “rumors,” wondering aloud why it has caused such a stir now. He promises to check it out with his supervisor. When he tries to do so, he finds that she is out the rest of the week. So, he tells the staff that he’ll let them know when he finds out more.

Juanita, John’s supervisor, calls during the weekend and tells him that the Executive Committee decided that they needed to go with the new package because the “price was too good to be true.” The vendor offered a huge discount in exchange for a quick decision. When the organization hesitated during negotiations, the vendor offered to upgrade the software as needed over the next 5 years.

Juanita asks John to “keep a lid” on the announcement until senior management can put together an organization-wide announcement. Part of the announcement will be a 15-percent reduction in division staffing over the next year. John explains that he’s already been hearing about it through the grapevine. Juanita apologizes for not letting him know earlier, and expresses dismay with the organization’s inability to “manage” these communications, and relief that no one in her division caused it.

On Monday, John and Juanita talk further. She says that, while the new package has some problems, the vendor is strong and very committed to working them out. She sees the change as an opportunity to:

  • Improve public safety through quicker deployment of needed resources.
  • Save money by reducing the number of staff required to run and support the program.
  • Improve overall efficiency and communications among the various departments.
  • Lighten the workload of employees who previously have had to do a lot of manual tracking and recording.

She sees a “natural fit” for John’s department to “join hands” with the other department. While this makes sense on paper, historically there has been little cooperation between the two departments, mainly because the other department has a reputation for poor service and low morale.

On Tuesday, Dewayne drops by and asks John if he has any answers yet. John tells him what he knows (i.e., he spills the beans). Through the rest of the day, he visits with the staff and passes on, in general terms, the same information.


Self-Reflection: Building Trust in Your Situation

Think of a recent situation in your work in which trust was a factor (e.g., a change initiative within your organization, dealings with the media, response—or lack of response—by the public in an emergency, or a team effort with other agencies). With this situation in mind, answer the following questions.

  • What actions were taken (or could be taken) to strengthen trust (or at least not compromise it)?
  • In what ways and under what circumstances (either intentional or unintentional) might you have caused or reinforced mistrust during this situation?
  • Based on this analysis, what actions can you take to build and rebuild trust in the future?


Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you examined the issue of trust, and explored ways in which an effective leader can build or rebuild trust among employees and other emergency management stakeholders.

In the next lesson, you will learn how personal influence and political savvy affect a leader’s effectiveness.



Lesson 5: Personal Influence and Political Savvy

Lesson Overview

In addition to building trust and facilitating change, an effective leader must be able to exert personal influence to achieve emergency management goals. In this unit, we will focus on the important role of leader as influencer and the skills for effectively influencing others. We will also explore what is involved in being a politically savvy leader.

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the need for and importance of using personal influence.
  • Identify the key aspects of political savvy.
  • Develop strategies for influencing individuals, groups, and the organization to a specific course of action.


Personal Influence and Emergency Management

What does personal influence have to do with emergency management? Or put another way, what role does personal influence play in an emergency manager’s job?

Job descriptions typically list experience and education requirements, and detail responsibilities and functions to be performed by the person holding that position. It is a rare job description that explicitly mentions personal influence as a position requirement, yet without personal influence, a leader will be both ineffective and ultimately unsuccessful.


Case Study: Findlay City Fiasco

Jane Canfield is the emergency manager in Findlay City. Last month, the city experienced a disaster. A flash flood inundated the city with water that threatened to overtake the entire downtown area. Because of the massive force of the floodwaters, a levee burst on the outskirts of the city. To compound matters, a hazardous chemical spill closed a major thoroughfare into the city. The spill was releasing toxic fumes into the area and HazMat experts determined that the 100 homes immediately surrounding the accident should be evacuated.

At the time of the disaster, the city had a new mayor who did not yet understand his role in emergency management, so he failed to act quickly to issue an evacuation order. When the delayed evacuation order was issued, the media broadcast it on all TV stations but did not continue the broadcast on the Spanish language station that most Hispanics rely on for their evening news. The outdoor warning system failed in several areas, but people heard the police cars’ sirens and figured that something was wrong. Five people died of respiratory failure as a result of the delay and confusion.

Massive convergence of spectators downtown caused traffic tie-ups that delayed rescue personnel trying to reach people stranded by the floodwaters. The flood caused 14 deaths, 12 of them in a mobile home park. The city council had voted down enforcing the building codes that would have required more reinforcement for mobile homes to protect them against damage.

The emergency manager handled the resource requirements with the assistance of the neighboring jurisdictions, which provided additional fire and rescue support. There was confusion in some agencies about interagency policy and protocol, however, which caused some delays and created an impression of disorganization and lack of cooperation.

Meanwhile, the media sensationalized the story, reported that the city was overwhelmed by the impact, and did nothing to reassure the public.

Looking back on the incident, Canfield realizes there are many ways in which the city can improve its ability to deal with another disaster. She is drafting an action plan that, so far, includes the following items:

  • Meet with the mayor to brief him on hazard analysis, the emergency operations plan, authorities and responsibilities, and emergency management statutes, and develop a closer working relationship.
  • Work with city council, the zoning board, and other appropriate agencies to review existing building code standards and regulations regarding development in hazardous areas.
  • Meet with local businesses and trade associations to discuss recovery issues and develop interest in hazard mitigation programs.
  • Cultivate local government and community commitment to emergency management.
  • Identify organizations and individuals to contact on a regular basis to establish or maintain informal working relationships.
  • Identify ways to meet the needs of special populations in the event of a disaster.
  • Identify ways to rebuild public trust in Findlay City’s emergency management program.
  • Implement public education and awareness campaigns about the hazards that exist in the community and ways to prepare for them.
  • Cultivate a positive working relationship with the media to ensure effective early warning systems and unbiased reporting of emergency events.
  • Work with those responsible for the outdoor warning system to ensure effective performance in the future.
  • Initiate a review of policies and procedures with response groups to ensure future coordination and cooperation.


Personal Influence and Emergency Management

The ability to influence others is a key leadership competency. At a minimum, we use our influencing skills to get needed resources and set people on a particular course of direction.

As you probably noticed in the case study, personal influence is absolutely critical in emergency management. Every one of the tasks that the emergency manager outlined in her action plan will require some measure of personal influence. The emergency manager will need to exercise her influence in many directions:

  • Upward (with the mayor).
  • Laterally (with neighboring jurisdictions, city council, the zoning board, and other agencies).
  • Downward (with those responsible for various facets of the emergency management program).
  • Outward (with the media, the public, businesses, trade organizations, and specific groups such as the Hispanic community).


Three Types of Influence

When we talk about influencing other people, we generally mean getting them to do something or to think or behave in a certain way. In the workplace, you have three kinds of influence available to you:

  • Position influence
  • Domineering influence
  • Interpersonal influence


Position Influence

Position influence is derived from your job position or title. You use your authority to meet your objective. This kind of influence usually results in compliance: employees do what you want because you’re their boss.

Position influence can be temporary if you are a project head or in charge of a particular assignment. The best uses of position influence are when there are strict rules and established procedures, when automatic compliance is required, to recognize and strengthen good performance, and to deal with performance or conduct issues.


Domineering Influence

Domineering influence is usually based on frustration and involves harsh behavior, threats, and elevated tones. The result is often hostility and passive-aggressive behavior.

Domineering influence can destroy working relationships and therefore should only be used when all else fails.


Interpersonal Influence

Unlike position or domineering influence, interpersonal influence has to be developed or earned. It does not come with a job title or emotion. You build interpersonal influence as you demonstrate your own qualities and skills, such as good listening and reacting skills, a sense of humor, and reliability.

Interpersonal influence is based on trust, support, and collaboration. It results in commitment to the task or purpose: people decide that they want to work with you to get the job done.


When To Use Interpersonal Influence

Interpersonal influence is best used:

  • When you have no direct authority over others.
  • When “buy-in” is required.
  • When creativity and two-way information sharing is required.
  • With professionals who expect to be treated with respect and to work collaboratively.
  • For teambuilding.
  • For responding to change.

Even if you predominantly use one type of influence, you may use all three types with some individuals and groups or in some situations where it is appropriate.


Effective Interpersonal Influence

Interpersonal influence is something you develop over time, as you build relationships. It is also something that you develop as you gain knowledge and experience in your job. The more you know about your organization, the better equipped you are to influence positively those with whom you interact.

Effective interpersonal influence involves three core elements: “I,” “You,” and “We.” Each element reflects an attitude. When you adopt this attitude, you tend to act in a way that contributes to effective interpersonal influence.


The “I” Element

This element reflects the attitude, “I am a trustworthy ally.” It involves taking actions that demonstrate your personal reliability, competence, and commitment. People learn about you from what you say and how you act. They will determine whether you are trustworthy based on your actions, and they will notice quickly if your actions do not correspond with your words.

Examples of actions that can destroy your credibility include:

  • Criticizing people behind their backs.
  • Passing the buck.
  • Repeating confidential information to others.

If people decide that you are not trustworthy, they will erect barriers that will make it difficult for you to build an influence relationship.


The “You” and the “We” Elements

The “You” element. This element reflects the attitude, “You are a valuable resource.” Actions that demonstrate this attitude show others that you value a working relationship with them. Examples include asking for their opinions and ideas and showing appreciation for their contributions.

The “We” element. This element reflects the attitude, “We can accomplish this together.” The “I” and “We” elements together enable you to build an influence relationship. After you’ve built that relationship, you can use the relationship to work together to solve problems and accomplish your goals.


Personal Influence Skills

You have learned about many personal influence skills in previous units. We influence others through our leadership skills, through effective balancing of inquiry and advocacy, through trust-building behaviors, and by being able to communicate change effectively.

Your ability to influence others is also enhanced by effective communication skills, including:

  • Effective public speaking and interviewing skills.
  • Active listening.
  • Attending and encouraging.
  • Paraphrasing.
  • Reflecting feelings.
  • Distinguishing between emotion and content.

To maximize these skills, you may wish to complete the FEMA Independent Study course, Effective Communication (IS-242).


Negotiating Agreement

Another important skill area is in reacting skills: the ability to react appropriately to another person’s point of view after you understand it. This skill is important because influence relationships develop when both parties feel that their ideas are important to the other. Reacting effectively encourages open communication and trust.

Typically, there are three gut reactions you may have to someone’s idea or suggestion: you will agree, disagree, or think of ways to enhance the idea.

No matter what your gut reaction, the important thing is to react to it in a way that is both honest and maintains a positive climate for future communication. There are three reacting skills that will allow you to be honest while maintaining a positive climate:

  • Agreeing
  • Constructive Disagreement
  • Building on Ideas



If you like the person’s idea, say so. But make sure you state both what you like and why you like it. For example, you might say, “I like your idea of . . . because . . .” By communicating the value that the idea has for you (i.e., why you like it), you give the person additional reinforcement for offering the idea.


Constructive Disagreement

When people suggest ideas, they hope that their ideas will be liked. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the response is disagreement. People often find it difficult to state their disagreement, however. Either they don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, or they don’t like to say “no,” or they don’t know how to say “no” diplomatically.

The result is that they sometimes take inappropriate actions, such as postponing giving an answer, going along with an unacceptable idea, or implying that the disagreement stems from someone else (e.g., “I don’t think they will let us do that”).

If disagreement is not handled correctly, the person can become defensive or the possibility of future discussions may be dampened. The self-esteem of the person offering the idea should be a major concern.

If your reaction is that you see value in the idea but have some reservations (agree with parts and disagree with others), use constructive disagreement.

Here’s how:

  1. Identify the value. You might say, “What I like about your idea is . . .” If you listened carefully, you’ll understand both the idea and why the person thinks that it’s a good one. Identifying the value in the idea lets the person know that you are listening, which will help the person hear your concerns.
  2. Explain your reservations. You might say, “What concerns me is . . . ,” or “These are the things that would need to be overcome.” Make sure you’re specific and clear. And avoid the tendency to jump prematurely to your reservations. Express the value first!
  3. Discuss alternatives. Talk about ways to retain the value while eliminating reservations. The goal is to modify the original idea so that it is acceptable to both of you. The modifications can come from you or from the other person (i.e., either ask for or offer suggestions). If you offer a suggestion, ask the other person for his or her reaction to it. This approach keeps the conversation flowing as a two-way dialogue.


Building on Ideas

When your reaction to someone’s suggestion is that it stimulates your thinking about the idea and ways to enhance it, you have an opportunity to build on ideas—to add value to the original idea. This response does not mean just offering a new idea of your own. There are two steps in this process.

  1. Acknowledge the connection. First, acknowledge the connection between the person’s idea and what you are about to say. For example, you might begin, “What you said about . . .” This lets the person know that you were listening and gives them credit for the initial idea in the building process.
  2. Add value. Modify the original idea to add value to it (e.g., suggest additional reasons why the idea is a good one or ways to make the idea even better).


Political Savvy

There are times when the ability to influence others is not enough, and a good rationale may not be sufficient to sway someone to your point of view. Something is missing. There is another important factor to consider when we are attempting to influence: political savvy.


Political Savvy: A Dirty Word?

Many people have strong and contradictory feelings about being political. In fact, strong negative feelings about politics often present the most significant barrier to making the transition from Hired Hand to Leader.

The roots of the term political savvy indicate, however, that our attention should be on others. Politicalcomes from the Latin word meaning “the citizens” and savvy is from the French verb meaning “to understand.” So political savvy is, at its core, the ability to know the people.

Political savvy is a crucial leadership skill, and it can be employed in a positive way for positive ends.


Personal Interests vs. Organizational Interests

Below is a model described by Joel DeLuca called the Interest Grid that illustrates what political savvy is and what it is not. The Interest Grid contains four quadrants representing high and low levels of self-interest and organizational interest. As you read about each quadrant in the model, think about a leader you have known (personally or by reputation) who exemplifies this approach.

The interest grid: High self-interest and low organizational interest equals Dysfunctional Politics (Maniuplation); Low self-interest and low organizational interest equals Self-Destruction (Career Suicide); High self-interest and high organizational interest equals Functional Politics (Savvy); and low self-interest and high organizational interest equals Self-Sacrifice (Martyrdom).

Source: Joel R. DeLuca. Political Savvy: Systematic Approaches to Leadership Behind the Scenes (2nd edition). Berwyn, PA: Evergreen Business Group, 1999.


The Interest Grid

Dysfunctional Politics: People who engage in manipulation (upper left quadrant) promote their own interests above the interests of the organization.

Self-Destruction: People who take actions that further neither their own interests, nor those of the organization (lower left quadrant), are engaging in “career suicide.” This behavior often signals deep discouragement or burnout.

Self-Sacrifice: The lower right quadrant includes people who take actions that further the organization’s interests but that ignore their own. They naturally think about what is right for the organization, and they also know that a reputation for putting aside personal agendas builds credibility. However, when overused, this approach can lead to burnout and martyrdom.

Political Savvy: In the upper right quadrant are people who make decisions that balance their own interests with those of their organization. They put the organization’s interests first, believing that benefits to the organization align with meeting one’s individual interests.

The interest grid: High self-interest and low organizational interest equals Dysfunctional Politics (Maniuplation); Low self-interest and low organizational interest equals Self-Destruction (Career Suicide); High self-interest and high organizational interest equals Functional Politics (Savvy); and low self-interest and high organizational interest equals Self-Sacrifice (Martyrdom).


Who Benefits?

Using influence well can actually be a tremendous service to the organization and to the people a leader manages. It can bring the leader’s particular unit or department visibility, stature, resources, and a voice in shaping what happens.

On the other hand, lacking or misusing political skills can have very serious consequences to yourself, to your unit, and ultimately even to your ability to achieve emergency management goals in the future.


Building Blocks for Political Savvy

There are three critical building blocks that will help to strengthen your own political skills:

  • Alliance Mindset: A mindset focused on alliance.
  • Understand Your Allies: The ability to understand your allies.
  • Be an Ally: The ability to be an ally to others.


The Alliance Mindset

Viewing others as potential allies is easier said than done. When trying to influence others, you are most likely to see things from your own perspective and remain focused on your own needs. And the more you care about an issue, the more focused on yourself and your position you tend to become.

Yet failing to see others as allies or partners is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. It increases the likelihood that you will act in ways that may actually heighten others’ resistance to your ideas.

Therefore, perhaps the most crucial building block of political savvy is your mindset. Leaders who are effective are able to view and treat the people around them as partners or potential partners.

The good news is that it is possible to shift from a mindset of seeing people who resist you as adversaries to a mindset of seeing them as potential allies.


The Rules of Alliance

There are four basic rules for interacting with people as your allies:

Rule 1: Assume That Mutual Respect Exists

Some people will lose your respect by repeatedly taking actions that are boldly self-serving or unethical. But more often, you will lose respect for others because of misunderstandings.

Most people involved in emergency management are trying to do the very best that they can in any given situation. By getting better at understanding other people’s points of view, you will have a better chance of seeing what motivates them and the context in which they act.

Rule 1 simply challenges you to let yourself be surprised: to start over, suspend your judgment, and assume that respect exists between you. While it may sound idealistic, consider the alternative: when you assume a position of no respect, barriers go up and options shut down.

Rule 2: Trust the Other Person, and Be Someone Whom He or She Can Trust

Trusting others means taking a risk and letting your guard down in the hope that something more positive can emerge. Although sometimes it may not be worth the risk, not taking that risk virtually assures that distrust will mount.

In addition to trusting others, being someone whom others can trust is one of the most powerful ways to turn around a troubled relationship. This, too, involves a “calculated leap of faith”—a willingness to take the first step in building or rebuilding a relationship.

It is this kind of risk-taking that is the hallmark of a person working out of the Leader paradigm, someone who breeds commitment and trust by being committed and trustworthy.

Rule 3: Be Open, and Share Information

Like the other rules of alliance, this one can be a difficult rule to put into practice. Many of us believe that “knowledge is power.” Yet power does not necessarily equate with influence. You can have a lot of power by hoarding information, but you may not be trusted or respected.

Ask yourself: Would you rather be powerful or effective? The traditionally powerful leader might “know it all,” but the person working out of the Leader paradigm who is open and who shares information is more likely to get things done in the long run because of the trust and commitment that he or she builds.

Push past your comfort zone and share more information than you think that you can. See what happens.

Rule 4: Look for Mutual Benefits

You can look for mutual benefits by asking questions and trying to understand the other person’s frame of reference. Unfortunately, in typical organizational life, this type of conversation doesn’t happen as a matter of course. We often fail to take the time to find out about another person’s interests, or we fail to imagine that we might have interests in common. But these are the prerequisites for finding solutions that are of mutual benefit: taking time to find out about the other person’s interests and looking for common interests.

Remember: Inquiry before advocacy. Make sure you take time to listen before you start selling your own ideas. You may find a lot of common ground on which to build.

Looking for mutual benefit is one of the best ways in which to become someone’s ally and to allow them to become yours.


Understanding Your Potential Allies

Given the premise that we will be more effective with a mindset that others are our allies, we need to become smarter about who those allies are and what they care about.

Another way of looking at the process of understanding your allies is simply this: You want to make it as easy as possible for them to say “Yes” to you. Accomplishing this objective requires answers to three questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their concerns, interests, and motivations?
  • How does my idea relate to their concerns?


First Question: Who Are Your Allies?

If you are trying to get an idea accepted, your allies might include people:

  • Who will or might be affected by your idea.
  • Whose cooperation or resources you need to implement your idea.
  • Who could benefit and those who could lose.
  • Who could block the idea.
  • Who could help get it accepted.

Allies include not only obvious supporters, but also those whose support you will need but may not have from the outset.


Case Study: The Grapevine, Part 2

John and his team leaders are spending the week with their peers from other departments learning about a new training delivery proposal. During Monday’s reception, John approaches a group of managers. In the ensuing conversation he learns the following:

  • Not all members of senior management are behind the implementation of the new software.
  • The problems with the software that his group identified during the pilot still haven’t been addressed.
  • Everyone is grumbling about why the Information Technology (IT) Department didn’t fix the problem or “kill” the program when they had a chance.
  • The Personnel Department is in the process of replacing software that had similar functionality after learning that its vendor will no longer support it. Rick and Linda, two highly skilled IT people who used to work for John, are now in Personnel, working for Kim Weston.
  • Other departments claim that they’re not going to use the software. They have concluded that it won’t interface with major components of their system and “don’t want to mess with it anymore until the Information Technology (IT) people get in and fix it.” The interface is critical to accomplishing Juanita’s vision of overhauling deployment procedures and efficiency by the end of the year. If these units don’t input the required information at their sites, other employees of the organization won’t be able to access it on the system. In that case, John’s department will bear the brunt of figuring out how to make it work.
  • Many are wondering why IT, which recommended the software initially, didn’t address the concerns that were expressed in the pilot and has become neutral on implementation support.

Implementation of the software is a given, either by John or his replacement. His unit provides a critical function for the organization. And although this choice might not be the perfect software, it’s vital to his department’s mission.


Second Question: What Are Your Allies’ Concerns, Interests, and Motivations?

Knowing who your potential allies are is the first step in understanding them. Your next challenge is to figure out how to influence them. One of the best ways to influence others is to understand their world: their pressures, concerns, and perspectives.

A good example of this, on a broad scale, is the need to understand cultural differences within your community. Cultural differences reflect internal beliefs and thought patterns that can cause people to react differently to the same situation. The same may be true of other special groups—whether defined by age, gender, language differences, special needs, or other characteristics. People’s own concerns and interests may color how they interact with you.


Understanding Unique Needs Within Your Community

To a large extent, the misunderstandings that occur involving people from different cultures or special interest groups have nothing to do with what was said—it’s how it was said, what the speaker did while saying it, or even to whom it was said. Clearly, understanding the special needs within your community will enhance the strength of your personal influence.

Whether dealing with an individual or with a group, understanding your allies’ interests and motivations is a vital component of political savvy. It is also one of the most underpracticed skills in organizational life, and the place where the process of influence often breaks down. We frequently become so intent on our own idea that we forget to present it in a way that makes it easier for the other person to accept it.


Third Question: How Does My Idea Relate to Their Concern?

First, you identified your potential allies in relation to your situation. Next, you tried to understand more about what they care about. The third step is to relate your idea to those of your allies and to position your idea in a way that makes it easy for these allies to say “Yes.”

To complete this step, you need to answer two sets of questions:

  • In what ways could my initiative support their priorities? Are there ways in which my initiative might work against that person’s objectives?
  • How could I modify either my idea or my presentation of it so that it would be more attractive to these people?


Being an Ally to Others

We have talked about the importance of having an alliance mindset and of understanding your allies. The third building block for political savvy is to be an ally. Being an ally means invoking the principle of reciprocity:

“As we do things for others in organizations, they become more likely to help us in return.”

It is important to realize that this is NOT a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back” approach. It is also not a tit-for-tat trade where, to get a specific idea through, you promise something in return.

Rather, it means being a friend to others in the organization, because by helping others you will also be helping the organization and helping yourself.

Caution: It will be too late to start being an ally at the point when you need something from someone else. People see this as manipulation. Being an ally means taking a day-in and day-out stance of helpfulness, whether you need something today (or ever) from that person.


Developing a “Win-Win” Solution

Have you ever watched a cat negotiate with a mouse? The cat may allow the mouse some latitude in its actions, but always within the boundaries determined by the cat. Once in a while, the mouse will find a crack in the porch steps through which it escapes to achieve its goals. In negotiations, do you feel like the cat or the mouse? Is there another way to negotiate?

There are several points to remember when striving for a “win-win” solution:

Define the conflict as a mutual problem. Be certain that the identification of the conflict includes:

    • A clear definition or statement of the issue.
    • All of the information that is needed to solve the issue.
    • Internal and external factors that affect the issue.
    • A blame-free environment for describing the issue.

When people involved can see the situation objectively, they can share in the realization that everyone “owns” the problem and the solution.

Apply active listening skills to the communication process. Ask yourself: What elements of the issues will active listening find that are important in reaching a “win-win” solution? These elements should include:

    • The emotions behind the issue.
    • External pressure factors.

Focus on the interests, rather than on positions. Sometimes, people enter negotiations with position statements rather than with interest statements.


Self-Reflection: Your Personal Influence and Political Savvy

Your ability to assess your personal influence and political savvy can be an important facet in developing as a strong leader.

This self-reflection is an assessment that you can print and complete offline in different situations, to help you identify your allies and strategies for building influence with these allies.


Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you examined the role of leader as a politically savvy influencer and the skills for effectively influencing others.

In the next lesson, you will learn how personal influence and political savvy enter into a leader’s effectiveness.



Lesson 6: Fostering a Leadership Environment

Lesson Overview

We have explored attributes that a leader in emergency management needs to have: self-knowledge, ability to facilitate change, capacity to build and rebuild trust, and personal influence and political savvy.

Another hallmark of effective leaders is the ability to create an environment that develops the future generation of leaders and fosters leadership qualities at every level, in every employee. In fact, one of the most significant legacies that you can develop in the organization is leaders who are equipped to lead in whatever disasters the future will bring. In this unit, we will look at strategies for fostering a leadership environment.

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the leader’s role in developing leadership qualities in others.
  • Develop strategies for creating a positive work environment.


Fostering Leaders in Emergency Management

The critical difference in successful emergency response organizations is that the successful organization maximizes the use of the “intellectual capital” found in the organization’s members. Organizations that are unable or unwilling to make use of the intellectual capital will be ineffective in an emergency.

Exemplary emergency response systems rely on the capabilities of all the personnel involved, not just those of a few in leadership positions. To create a successful emergency response system, leaders must take advantage of the vast knowledge and know-how of all those involved in making a response successful—whether internal or external to the emergency management agency.


Strategies for Fostering Leadership

Previous lessons described several ways to foster leadership:

  • Developing leader qualities that emphasize a view of the organization as a moral system, drawing credibility and power from behavioral integrity and core values, and being motivated by realization of the vision.
  • Expanding your self-knowledge and making more of your hidden self visible to others.
  • Encouraging authentic feedback for self-improvement.
  • Using the Ladder of Inference to create an environment of leadership.
  • Nurturing shared learning by balancing inquiry and advocacy.
  • Facilitating acceptance of change within the organization.
  • Building and maintaining a climate of trust.
  • Using personal influence and political savvy to help achieve the vision and goals of the organization.


Strategies for Developing Leaders

The strategies just mentioned comprise a comprehensive approach you can use, not only to strengthen your own leadership skills, but also to create an environment in which new leaders can grow. In addition to these general approaches, there are some specific strategies that effective leaders use to encourage the developing leaders in their organization.

Some of these strategies are briefly described on the following screens. Each one of them constitutes a broad topic that could merit an entire course of its own. You may wish to seek additional information on some of these topics to expand your leadership skills further.


Building a Shared Vision

Effective leaders create a shared vision of great performance—a clear picture of the future of the organization, based on tomorrow’s needs. The vision makes the goal and the journey clear: where we are going, how we will know when we get there, and how we’ll know that we’re making progress. Effective leaders see the total system, understand it, and help others to understand it. And they help to build the power within the organization to achieve the vision.

Effective leaders encourage employees at all levels to expand, deepen, and personalize the organizational vision by identifying how, in their own roles, they can make a significant contribution to achieving the organizational vision.



An effective leader empowers employees by developing a shared vision, removing obstacles to great performance, developing ownership of the vision among the employees, and stimulating self-directed actions. The leader must be sure that the performers are responsible and accountable for great performance. People who are given a real voice are much more likely to “buy in” to the vision and the organizational goals and to make it their mission to help achieve those goals.


Team Building

Effective leaders build a team environment in which members pool their resources and rely on each other to achieve common goals. As people combine their energies, the cooperative action of the group creates a greater result than the individuals could accomplish working separately. A leader promotes a team environment by:

  • Establishing an environment of trust.
  • Setting up systems and structures to require teamwork.
  • Encouraging team communication to build team identity.
  • Fostering the evolution of natural leadership abilities in group members.
  • Establishing team goals and team rewards (i.e., reward team effort).
  • Celebrating group achievements, even those that are minor.



A leader who manages through coaching convinces people of their own ability to do the job. Such leaders have faith that, with the proper training and support, people will excel. Coaching involves providing training, support, and constructive feedback as an employee carries out responsibilities. The leader gives ongoing encouragement and praise for successes and helps the person build confidence in his or her own abilities.


Effective Coaching

An effective format for coaching includes these steps:

  • Set the stage. Give full attention, be clear, assume a “shared learning” mindset, encourage dialogue, listen actively, and foster mutual respect.
  • Define the problem, goal, or issue. Be specific and be clear about your assumptions.
  • Foster a growth atmosphere by reinforcing positive behavior, making clear that you are there to help, and encouraging the open exchange of ideas.
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration and problem solving on alternatives. Apply the principles of balanced inquiry and advocacy, constructive disagreement, and idea-building in exploring alternatives. Give constructive feedback to improve performance.
  • Agree on an action plan and set a followup date, then keep the door open.



Do what you do best, and give away the rest to someone else. An effective leader delegates broad responsibilities to team members and expects them to handle the details.

Delegating responsibilities to capable personnel has many advantages. It distributes the workload, results in higher efficiency and increased motivation, and develops the skills of the workforce. People learn more by doing than by any other means. Delegation provides opportunities for people to develop leadership skills.


Effective Delegation

Effective delegation involves:

  • Identifying an appropriate person for the task.
  • Preparing the person by clearly stating desired outcomes while encouraging risk-taking and innovation.
  • Ensuring that the person has the necessary authority to do the job properly.
  • Holding the person accountable for agreed-upon outcomes.
  • Maintaining enough contact for support and monitoring of progress without “hovering.”
  • Acknowledging success and giving credit where it is due.



Effective leaders use mentoring to foster leadership skills within the organization. Mentoring happens when an experienced person provides guidance and support in a variety of ways to a developing employee, introducing that person to the workings of the organization and assisting with professional development. A mentor must be willing to share his or her expertise and not be threatened by the concept of the person’s success within the organization.


Self-Reflection: Fostering Leadership in Your Environment

Your ability to foster leadership in the emergency management environment is a critical skill of a good leader.

This lesson provides an assessment that you can print and complete offline in different situations to help maximize the contribution of every person in your organization.


Lesson Summary

In Lesson 6, you learned strategies for fostering an environment that supports your own leadership development and encourages leadership throughout the organization. You also developed a strategy for improving the leadership environment in your emergency management system.