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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Richard E. Boyatzis; Kiko Thiel; Kylie Rochford; Anne E. Black
Publication Date: 2017

Incident Management Teams (IMTs) combat the toughest wildfires in the United States, contending with forces of nature as well as many stakeholders with different agendas. Prior literature on IMTs suggested roles and cognitive sensemaking as key elements for success, but the possible importance of emotional and social intelligence competencies in leadership has not been empirically explored. Sixty critical incidents from interviews of 15 incident commanders were analyzed for emotional and social intelligence competencies in incident management leadership. Seven competencies were found to significantly differentiate outstanding leaders from average leaders. Emotional self-control, adaptability, empathy, coach/mentor, and inspirational leadership significantly or near significantly differentiated the outstanding leaders. Five additional competencies appeared as threshold competencies: achievement orientation, organizational awareness, influence, conflict management, and teamwork. Implications for further research, training, and development are explored.

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Citation: Boyatzis, Richard E.; Thiel, Kiko; Rochford, Kylie; Black, Anne. 2017. Emotional and social intelligence competencies of incident team commanders fighting wildfires. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 53(4):498-516.

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  • hierarchy
  • high reliability organization
  • Incident Management Teams
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 25725