Wandering around camps and offices, you often hear hear murmurings about how Type I IMT members have large egos.
Well, yes, that's mostly true. But it's only half of the story. That Type I self-assuredness is not necessarily a personality flaw. Instead, it emanates from two elements of Type I work:
1. Incident management teams are not first responders. They usually show up after the first responders are overwhelmed by the complexity or duration of an incident. In essence, IMTs are the 911 call for folks who show up when the public calls 911. However, there is no option for help beyond a Type I IMT. They are it. Knowing there are no options beyond you and your team is a tough hurdle for some people. To embrace it takes a healthy ego.
2. A healthy ego also compels you to believe you are the perfect one for the task at hand, the best choice to solve the tough problem. At the same time you realize in order for you to perform at your best, you will have to rely on the team and others to help. If you think you can do it alone, you will likely be quickly weeded out of IMT work. The energy you bring to an IMT has to be based on interdependence. This reliance on others demands a humility to go along with the healthy ego, because you must acknowledge your weaknesses and willingly accept help to overcome them. In many, the humility is also influenced by past personal and professional failures.
The best Type I people I know have this good mix of a healthy ego and sincere humility, which are not easy attributes to either acquire or combine. It takes work and a drive to pursue self-knowledge. It also takes strength to be honest with one's self. That I've had the opportunity to work with so many who meet these standards is part of what kept me going during intense incidents and long seasons. Being around those kinds of folks is something we don't often define or talk about, but it is a special part of incident management.
(Admittedly, there are a few humans out there who happen to be a Type I something and are also jerks--I'm not talking about them in this post.)
Copyright © Jim Whittington, 2018, All rights reserved. Academic use approved with notification and attribution.
Occasional thoughts on incident response, crisis communications, wildland fire, and other topics.
Docendo disco, scribendo cogito.
Copyright © Jim Whittington, 2019.