Advanced Khaki I-Leadership Skills

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Advanced Khaki is designed to take you beyond policy and procedure and introduce skills needed to be an effective Khaki.

We will talk about Leadership, Critical Thinking, Decision Making and ways to develop those skills to help you be an effective Khaki.


Khaki is a leadership role. To be an effective Khaki you also need to be a good leader.

Leadership involves providing vision, direction, coordination, and motivation toward achieving goals. These skills are necessary whether dealing with on shift volunteers, members of another core, core leads, Board members, participants, LE or other outside agencies.

Being a good Khaki or Leader is not about your needs, it is about the needs of Firefly, your rangers and your community.

Good Leaders:

  • Inspire and motivate others

Create positive one-on-one and team relationships by being a great listener and connecting emotionally with your rangers.

  • Display high integrity and honesty

As a Khaki and a Ranger you are a role model. Be honest and transparent, and have high integrity-do what you say you are going to do, walk the talk.

  • Drive for results

Be a Khaki that your rangers, Core Leads and the Board can count on to get things done.

  • Build relationships

Communicate with passion and energy about the Rangers, Firefly, your community, it’s values and volunteering. Communicate with your rangers often, check in with them. Talk to them when they wander by. Offer rewards and recognition; food, swag, a pat on the back, shout out etc.

  • Develop others

Just as you are here to develop your skills, help your rangers develop theirs. They will be the Khakis and Leads of the future.  Encourage your rangers to make contributions and stay clear of micromanaging.

Critical Thinking

Every call to Khaki needs a response. Some are routine and some are more challenging. In Khaki or other roles, perhaps ICS, you will need to take the time to think things through clearly and rationally.

The ability to think clearly and rationally is called Critical Thinking.

We use Critical Thinking because:

  • It is purposeful and goal-oriented.
  • It allows for informed decisions based on facts.
  • It is based on principles of logic.
  • It compensates for problems caused by human nature.

The Process of Critical Thinking

Ask yourself questions that will help you understand and analyse information.

Define the Big Picture

  • What is the goal? What results do you want?
  • Who does the situation effect?
  • Do you have resources that may have more information or can help you?

Distinguish between Facts and Opinions

  • Are you basing your opinion on facts? (Is the information subjective?)
  • Are there influencing factors such as beliefs, biases, bad experiences or stress? (Are you remaining objective?)

Make Observations

  • Is the situation escalating?
  • Is there more information coming?
  • Are there other influencing factors?

Make Assumptions

  • Is there room for error?
  • How much time do you have?
  • Does the decision require specific knowledge?

Decision Making

Effective decision making is as important in a crisis situation as a non-crisis situation.

Effective decision making can:

  • Avert tragedy.
  • Help manage incidents.
  • Build community trust and support.
  • Help recover from an incident more quickly.

Each decision needs to be based on a comprehensive view of the situation. Khaki’s comprehensive view should include considerations such as:

  • Common operating picture
  • Ethical do’s and don’ts
  • Group vs individual decisions
  • Other factors that can impede decision making

Common Operating Picture

To achieve a Common Operating Picture you must have shared situational awareness across all parties involved.

Situational awareness involves being aware of what is happening in the vicinity, in order to understand how information, events, and one's own actions will impact goals and objectives. Situational awareness includes;

  • Past: Standard practices, existing plans and protocols, and lessons learned.
    • Good decisions made in planning and preparation will lay the groundwork for incident decision making.
  • Present: Current situation and objectives.
  • Future: Contingencies and anticipated needs.

With a common operating picture, crisis decision making is supported by providing all appropriate parties the same critical information about the incident, including:

  • Current status and evolving situation.
  • Availability and location of resources.
  • Needed resources.

Ethical Do’s & Dont’s

As Khaki or in any other position of leadership it is important that your actions are ethical and impartial.


  • Place the law and ethical principles above private gain.
  • Put forth an honest effort in everything even remotely connected to your volunteer position.
  • Avoid even the appearance of ethical violations.


  • Use your position to seek personal gain.
  • Use community resources for personal reasons.
  • Appear to favor one group/person over another.
  • Exceed your authority or make promises that can’t be kept.

SELF Method

Tool for Ethical Evaluation

Decisions Should Withstand Scrutiny

  • Will I be proud of my decision?
  • Will my decision reflect honesty, integrity, fairness, and truthfulness?

Decisions Should Ensure Compliance

  • Will my decision or conduct comply with the law?
  • Will my decision or conduct create value?
  • Will my decision or conduct reflect and promote the core values of my organization?

Decisions Should Show Leadership

  • Am I being pressured or unduly influenced by others?
  • Am I being driven by my emotions?
  • Have I filtered out my ego needs and my own self-interests?
  • Are there other alternatives I should consider?

Decisions Should Be Fair

  • Will my decision be judged fair now and in the future?
  • Have I considered the needs and interests of those who might be affected by my decision or conduct?
  • What will be the consequences of my decision?
  • Who could be harmed by my decision?
  • Who will benefit from my decision?

Group vs Individual Decision Making

As Khaki you do not need to make every decision by yourself. You have options such as:

  • Involving the Dirt Rangers in an incident and help them make the decisions. If they request advice, ask them questions that will help them come to decisions on their own. This allows them to contribute to the decision making process, refines their critical thinking and analytical skills, and builds confidence.
  • Asking other peers or Core Leads for their advice or input.
  • Ask for assistance or kick it sideways to OOD, especially if an event is a trigger.

REMEMBER: The Core Leads are the people responsible for their cores ­­not the Rangers! It is not our job to tell other people how to run their cores. It is our job to assist them, if/when  they request it.

There are advantages to Group Decision Making:

  • Generates more favorable outcomes through synergy and shared information.
  • Provides a broader perspective and taps a wider range of expertise by representing multiple viewpoints and areas of specialization.
  • Taps the creative potential of team members who may come up with alternatives not envisioned by a single individual.
  • Allows for discussion to help answer questions and reduce uncertainties for the decision makers.

Other Factors That Can Impede Decision Making

Time Pressure:

Crises by their nature are dynamic and fast-moving situations. However, making a decision without taking even limited time for analysis can have negative consequences.

  • In times of Crisis
  • There is a quicker turnaround, less time for information gathering and consensus building.
  • Competing priorities play a bigger role.
  • Stress may become a factor.
  • Outcomes are enhanced by effective decisions having been made during the planning phase.
  • In times of Non-Crisis
  • Decisions can be made deliberately.
  • Group process can be used.
  • There is time to consider all contingencies.
  • There is time to obtain “buy-in” from stakeholders.

Problems with Information:

Problems may include a lack of information, too much information, or inaccurate or conflicting information.

Losing the “Big Picture”:

Focusing on insignificant details or objectives may cause leaders to lose their ability to maintain an awareness of the evolving situation and their ability to make sound decisions.


Sleep deprivation and the resulting fatigue can lead to selective perception, where a person focuses on the most immediate physical setting or needs. A decision maker may miss important factors or ignore discrepancies as his or her ability to take in new information decreases. Fatigue is often combined with high or low blood sugar and overuse of caffeine, which can further impede effective decision making.

Conflicting Priorities:

When key personnel have conflicting priorities, it can create uncertainty and cause delays in decision making and action planning.


Stress is a natural response to crisis situations that is heightened by many of the factors already described. Other sources of stress include:

  • Uncertainty.
  • High expectations.
  • Information insufficiency or overload.
  • Conflict.
  • Decision consequences.
  • Traumatic experiences.

Effects of Stress

Stress can be one of the biggest impediments to crisis decision making. Under stress, decision makers are more likely to:

  • Get tunnel vision—selective perception due to sensory overload.
  • Exhibit poor judgment, such as making hasty decisions or choosing risky alternatives.
  • Consider only the immediate situation to the exclusion of long-range considerations.
  • Have a greater tendency toward aggression or conflict with other key players.
  • Engage in escape behaviors such as under- or overeating, overuse of alcohol, reckless behavior, or self-isolation.