Eight Skills of a Successful Public Safety Leader

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Safety Inspector examining a building under constructionWhat does it take to thrive in a high-profile community service role as a public safety leader? Let’s take a look at the undeniable skill sets you must possess in order to succeed:


Ensuring public safety requires the ability to assess potential hazards within the community and determine how to eliminate or avoid risks. Dangers can include structurally compromised bridges and roads, unsafe buildings and factories, and topographical features that make the area prone to flooding, wildfires and other natural disasters. As a leader, you will want to engage other experts to help you evaluate vulnerabilities and the statistical probability of a safety mishap.


Planning is a key skill set in any profession, but it takes on even greater significance in the public safety realm. Communities expect their leaders to have contingency plans in place to address hazardous threats and natural disasters. Plans should be developed to address all safety scenarios identified during your risk assessment, emphasizing the most likely occurrences while not discounting remote possibilities.


Not only will you need exceptional communication skills to lead your own team, you must be able to interface with city employees, third-party vendors, and local citizens. This can include everyone from the treasurer who will finance your plans to the teachers who need to keep their students safe to the general populace during times of crisis.


Your ability to train and develop others will be put to the test in your role as a public safety leader. Effective response and recovery is dependent on having a well-orchestrated team where each member understands their responsibilities and is fully competent in performing those tasks. Community-based preparedness training should also be offered at regular intervals.


A good plan requires great execution to work properly in times of crisis. Smart leaders ensure that their plans can be implemented as designed by engaging in a rigorous testing process. Execution is where many of your essential leadership skills come together to drive successful results.


Few skills are more important to a public safety leader than the ability to respond quickly and effectively to a crisis situation. This requires a 365/52/24/7 commitment to your community and the safety and security needs of the citizenry. Being able to respond at a moment’s notice requires a unique combination of instinct, experience and education.


Believing in yourself is one thing. Having the capacity to inspire confidence in others is a much greater challenge. The ability to engender the trust of your community in the aftermath of an emergency situation is vital. Genuine sincerity will go farther than any news update you can share. People have faith in leaders who speak with conviction and act on principle.


Depending on the magnitude of the public safety situations that you face, your strength will be tried. You may have planned and prepared to the nth-degree, but there will still be delays, disruptions and possibly destruction that surprise you during recovery efforts. The resilience you gained during earlier times and lesser situations can help get you through.

Learn More

Learn to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards, infractions and risks through a bachelor of science in occupational safety online. At Eastern Kentucky University, you will gain a graduate-level education by industry-experienced educators and fire and safety professionals who are committed to teaching and preparing you for continued success.