Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program

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L-380 - Instructional Design Criteria
January 2005

Fireline Leadership

The L-380 Design Criteria offers an alternative approach to training. There is no standing course package available through the NWCG Publication Management System. Agencies have the authority to develop lesson plans based on the course criteria outlined here. The purpose of establishing course criteria is to give agencies the latitude to develop or acquire leadership training that fits their organizational needs while meeting the intent of the leadership curriculum. The following criteria is intended for use by training officers and managers for determining their best source for L-380 training. These criteria can be used to evaluate a training product that is developed internally or acquired through other providers such as a contractor, a university, or other source.

Target Audience
Personnel who desire to become qualified as a Strike Team Leader or Unit Leader.

The L-380 training experience should provide junior leaders with a set of tools and techniques to build and maintain cohesive crews or teams. Beyond a set of tools and techniques, this training experience should be designed to make an emotional and lasting impact. Essential guiding principles for achieving this impact include: enhancing the students' understanding of the human dimension when leading others in dynamic work environments; utilizing experiential training techniques that will engage students in ways that challenge them to perform under realistic and high-stress situations; and motivating students to examine their role as a leader and their strengths and weaknesses as a leader.

Minimum Course Length
32 course hours

Instructor Qualifications
The combined cadre must have career backgrounds and expert level knowledge in principle-centered leadership, emergency incident operations, human factors and decision-making. All instructors must be facilitative instructor qualified, and well prepared in order to execute simulations and lead classroom activities in order to achieve the learning objectives outlined in this course criteria. Refer to the NWCG instructor levels and requirements in the Field Managers Course Guide online at:

Instructional Design Guidelines

  • Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program Components - Include the following program components that can be found at www.fireleadership.gov.
  • Training in Context - Utilize group exercises and simulations to apply concepts that are presented during instructor presentations. Exercises and simulations are to comprise 50% of the course presentation, as a minimum.
  • Student/Instructor Ratio - In order to conduct effective exercises and simulations, cadres should be structured to provide low student to instructor ratios (8 students per instructor or better).
  • Case Studies - Provide classroom case studies and references from organizations that normally operate in high-risk, high-tempo work environments. Examples of such organizations include the military, commercial aviation, nuclear power plant operations, structure fire departments, etc.
  • Assessment - Integrate the After Action Review process into the exercises and simulations to allow opportunity for self-assessment and for performance assessment by peers.
  • Integrated Curriculum - Content must be consistent with the preceding two courses in the NWCG Leadership Curriculum, the L-180 Human Factors on the Fireline course and the L-280 Followership to Leadership course.

Content Guidelines
The course content information included below is a guide for course evaluation or design. The intent of the NWCG Leadership Curriculum is to create a series of courses that are taken by individuals as they progress in their careers from less complex to more complex leadership roles within the Incident Command System. This series of courses needs to be connected conceptually from one level to the next. For example, the Leadership Values and Principles need to be expressed using the same terminology at all levels. Definitions of key terms (e.g., situational awareness) need to be consistent at all levels. The course content information included here should assist training officers, course developers, and managers in evaluating existing courses or in developing new courses to insure they fit the intent of the NWCG Leadership Curriculum.

Application of Leadership Styles
1. Describe the components of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program's "Values and Principles" model.
2. Identify common ethical dilemmas and how core values support a leaders ability to address ethical dilemmas.
3. Analyze the application of various leadership styles. The analysis should include identification of leadership styles used in a scenario and determination of their situational effectiveness.
4. Conduct self-assessment of individual leadership skill weaknesses/strengths and review individual leadership development plan. Refer to the Leadership Toolbox for the "Self-development Plan."

Communication Techniques
1. Describe the components of an intent statement. Refer to the Leadership Toolbox for the "Briefing and Intent" guide.
2. Demonstrate communicating "Leaders Intent" to subordinates.
3. Identify methods that a leader can use to improve the level of information sharing with subordinates.
4. Demonstrate communication techniques that provide effective feedback in high-stress, high-consequence situations. As a minimum, the techniques addressed should include: direct statements, active listening, and message confirmation.
5. Conduct an After Action Review that provides opportunities for subordinates to learn from a previous event. Refer to the Leadership Toolbox for the "After Action Review Guide."

Team Building and Problem Solving
1. Describe the phases of teambuilding and the leader's role in each phase. As a minimum, the leader responsibilities addressed should include: establishing standards for team/crew operations, orienting new subordinates, and developing required skill sets within the team/crew. Refer to the Leadership Toolbox for the "Standard Operating Procedures Workbook" and the "Crew Cohesion Assessment" tool.
2. Demonstrate techniques for counseling sessions with subordinates. As a minimum, issues that should be addressed include: poor performance, resolving a conflict within a team/crew, substance abuse, and harassment.

Detecting and Mitigating Decision Errors
1. Describe the components of the Situation Awareness and Decision-cycle models. Refer to the NWCG L-180 and L-280 courses for specific content regarding both models.
2. Analyze the error chain on a recent wildland fire accident or other major incident. The analysis should be designed using a commonly accepted model such as Reason's "Swiss Cheese" model.
3. Demonstrate the use of the Risk Management Process as a decision aid for error detection. Refer to the Incident Response Pocket Guide (NFES #1077).

Managing Stress and Other Human Factors
1. Analyze the effects of stress on decision-making. The analysis should include identification of stressors in a scenario and determination of how stress reactions may have affected the overall outcome. Refer to the NWCG L-180 course for specific content regarding stressors and stress reactions.
2. Identify typical team/crew stress reactions and develop stress control measures for those reactions within a team/crew.
3. Demonstrate responding appropriately to an incident of traumatic stress involving a subordinate.