Wildland Fire Leadership: It's about you


tents in a mountain meadow
(Photo: Kyle Miller / IHC Wyoming)

I have recently taken a course of emotional intelligence in the workplace. My intention to attend the course was to make sure to transmit the most recent information to our followers. Many times, these courses are less than stellar. Even though I failed during the registration process, the course coordinator allowed me to attend. I did not know much, the course was more focused on me at work than on others at work. This course proved to be one of the best leadership courses I attended (and he came with a personal counseling session with the instructor).

Google defines emotional intelligence as "the ability to become aware of, to control and express one's emotions and to manage interpersonal relationships in a judicious and empathic manner". I personally call this "awareness of the situation for the soul".

I've taken a lot of profiles of emotional intelligence, but this one really did have an impact. The results were predictable, but the face-to-face course with my peers and the individual counseling with the instructor were very rewarding. I had gone with the intention of helping you, but I came to help me.

Well, wake up, Rip van Winkle, world leaders. It's about you! If you do not know who you are and what emotions affect you, how can you lead others?

I realize that the introspective aspect of leadership is a difficult thing. Many people avoid looking hard on themselves and are more comfortable analyzing others, positively or negatively. But doing the hard work pays for you and for those in your sphere of influence.

Do you have what it takes to be a leader – a leader of oneself and a leader of others?

Wildland Fire Leadership – digging a little further

  • Read books on Daniel Goleman's emotional intelligence.
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Emotional Intelligence 2.0
  • If you do not like to read, check out Goleman on YouTube or other platforms.
  • Take a look at the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program, especially the L-480.
  • Do the hard work. Get to know yourself and how you react. Adopt the concept of emotional intelligence and be "smart" with you!


Pam McDonald is an editor and publisher for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.