The 7 Qualities Fire Service Leaders Must Possess — Consistency

During this series we will be examining the seven qualities that are necessary for a leader to be successful in leading the organization and the team. You cannot be an effective team leader without being Consistent in all you do. Part 6 will focus on Consistency.


Leaders must remain vigilant to maintaining consistency. It is very easy to waiver on what you are doing or how you do things just too please people.

The definition from Webster’s Dictionary of Consistency:

“A steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.”

Through the years I have been taught that, “the correct or appropriate consistent actions and behaviors will lead to desired results.” Basically you get out of something what you put in. Frequently we see in the leadership world that consistency or the lack thereof, is common. It is important to understand that having consistency or lack thereof is a big defining factor between success and failure. I know I pay close attention to people’s actions, behaviors and attitude and how consistent they are with these on a daily basis. Not being consistent will send conflicting or confusing messages, which can be detrimental to developing trust of people and obtaining results. I use the example of a personal physical fitness plan and the results you get from following that plan consistently. If you follow it irregularly, then you will most likely not have the desired fitness level the plan is designed to give you.

Consistency Requires Commitment and Dedication

Commitment is about one’s obligation, while dedication is about one’s passion in the performance of those obligations. Committed means feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, organization, people, activity or job.

Leaders must remain vigilant to maintaining consistency. It is very easy to waiver on what you are doing or how you do things just too please people. It is far more difficult to have the tough conversations of telling people what they need to hear not what they want to hear. It is easy to make a promise or commitment and far too easy not to keep those.

When you fail to keep promises or commitments you can lose respect and buy in very quickly. If inconsistent behaviors become routine, people around you will most likely begin to question what is truly real and what is not. As a leader be conscious in your decisions, behaviors as well as taking the time to reflect on situations and intra-inspect yourself at all angles.

Consistency Creates Personal Responsibility

Personal is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions: we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.

Responsibility focuses on your obligation to someone or something, but personal responsibility or accountability takes it a step further. It means being responsible and ultimately answerable for your actions.

Being personally responsible isn’t always easy. It requires courage, acceptance and a realistic view of your life circumstances. This is why it is important that you take a step back and think about your own personal responsibility.

As leaders we are demanding consistency in our members in regards to performance to meet the goals of the organization. With the demand of consistency from leaders, it should be expected that our members should expect consistent support and service from their leaders as well.

To achieve optimal results, leaders should establish regular routines and practices for good communications with the members of their organization. This level of communication and routine helps building strong buy-in process. This ensures there are no last-minute surprises and creates an environment of mutual accountability and respect.

Consistency Equals Predictability

I am sure everyone has been in an environment or worked for a supervisor who has a personality or actions that are consistently inconsistent. With that said, I am sure you have found how hard that is to work in that type of environment. It is a known fact that employees perform best when their environments are predictable. Inconsistency leads to uncertainty and stress. Stress that makes performance below the capabilities of the personnel.

It is important that as a leader you behave consistently in all types of situations. If your reactions are unpredictable or if you give conflicting directions, employees might be unwilling or even afraid to approach you. When people know how you’ll respond and what to expect from you it increases engagement and satisfaction, which leads to greater productivity.

Consistency Builds Trust With Others

Trust is the belief and confidence in the integrity, character, strength and ability of the leader. As a successful leader your word and actions must be trusted. It is important to understand that your word is important. If you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. If you plan to meet somewhere, you need to be there. This consistency of you keeping your word or actions builds trust in others as they see you as being sincere.

Remember that your subordinates often model the leadership behaviors you demonstrate. If you show up for a meeting late or skip it altogether don’t be surprised when you begin to see these same behaviors in your staff. This modeling can be positive if your actions are positive and negative if your actions are negative.

A word to the wise — be prepared to follow through on your promises or don’t make them!

Consistency Builds Your Reputation and Personal Brand

Reputation is the way people think of you or your personal brand. As a leader you want a reputation that reflects your true self. Sometimes leaders lose themselves to a role or position. It is very hard to build a good reputation but it takes very little to damage or destroy it. Successful leaders know the importance of establishing a track record of performance.

When you follow through on promises people see you as dependable and reliable. Likewise, success in reaching goals depends on remaining committed to a course of action.

Anyone who’s worked in or around emergency services for long understands the importance of branding. Good branding can not only increase your leadership value, but can also provide your team with direction, and make it easier to attract new members.

Fortunately, organizations are not the only ones who benefit from establishing a clear brand. A strong personal brand can act as the foundation of a successful career for a leader. It can provide you as a leader with personal direction, increase your ability to find new opportunities and challenges, and help others see the value you bring to the table so your worth will be acknowledged. As a leader you want to be valued in your organization, community and in the profession you serve.

Many organizations and people associate branding with a business’s logo, online identity or mission statement. So as a leader you are asking, “What could that have to do with me personally as a leader within the organization?” While how we as leaders use language and imagery as individuals is important, authentic reputations and personal branding is much more complex. The combination of your reputation, professional values, actions and the styles in which you communicate combine to make up your personal brand and as a leader. It’s how you set yourself apart from others in your space and make it clear that you provide unique value.

Thinking of your brand focusing in on consistency is important. As mentioned above, being seen as consistent is an essential quality of being an effective leader. By being consistent, you help your team to know what behavior they can expect from you, which in turn establishes trust.

Employees who trust their bosses stay in the organization and their positions longer and are more engaged, motivated and open to change.


As you can see Consistency is a critically important quality of leadership. Following these guidelines will assist you in being a more consistent and effective leader.

Douglas Cline is Chief of the Training and Professional Development Division with Horry County Fire Rescue. He is the Executive Editor for The Fire Officer and Executive Director for the Command Institute in Washington D.C. A 36 year fire and emergency services veteran as well as a well-known international speaker, Cline is a highly published author of articles, blogs and textbooks for both fire and EMS. As a chief officer, Cline is a distinguished authority of officer development and has traveled internationally delivering distinguished programs on leadership and officer development. He also has a diverse line of training videos on leadership, rapid intervention team training, vehicle fires, hose line management, and emergency vehicle operations and fire ground safety and survival.

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