8 Key Leadership Skills for Public Safety Management

Fire departments and law enforcement personnel oversee day to day public safety responsibilities. When a disaster strikes, the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) comes into play to provide a central base for organisation, strategy, and management. Not only must you possess strong communication skills, but those in public safety management need to have key leadership skills which can be used to manage individuals, supplies, and equipment.

If you are interested in a career in public safety management, it’s important that you learn the right skills and traits needed. To help get you started, here are some of the most sought-after leadership skills that can help you excel in public safety.


One of the key leadership skills that you will need to succeed in public safety management is knowing how to prioritize. Having a solid understanding on what requires immediate attention, and what things can wait will make a huge difference in how well you deliver your duties. When an emergency strikes, using prioritization skills is paramount when it comes to making sure the public are safe and protected. As a public safety manager, you will need to learn how to establish order by determining what to address first, as well as implementing the correct crisis management techniques.

Problem Solving

No matter what kind of role you are in, there are always obstacles and challenges that you will face along the way. In public safety management, you will need to think on your feet. When a natural disaster occurs such as an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane, it’s up to the public safety manager to resolve problems that occur with the available tools on hand. As you may not have access to the supplies you need, learning how to improvise is crucial. There are lots of benefits that problem solving skills can bring you, such as:

  • Making the impossible possible
  • Making a difference
  • Increasing confidence

As a public safety manager, it’s important that you’re always one step ahead of the game. No matter the sector you’re in, being able to work well under pressure and intense environments can help keep your stress levels at bay and help you overcome any hurdles and barriers.


To succeed as a public safety manager, you will need to be highly organised. With a lot of power in your hands, many people in your team will come to you for support and guidance, so being well prepared and knowing your role inside out is crucial. When an emergency occurs, being organised and in control will help ensure the situation is dealt with appropriately and according to plan.

Organisational skills involve:

  • Configuring resources
  • Creating a structure and system
  • Helping overcome chaos generated by the emergency

There are also lots of health benefits that you can gain from being organised as a public safety manager, such as:

  • Boosting energy levels
  • Better eating habits
  • Improves your sleep habits
  • Reduces stress


An important leadership skill that any public safety manager needs to possess is the ability to motivate others in their role. As you will be at the forefront, it’s up to you to spur people on and point them in the right direction to ensure any challenge is completed successfully. A good leader needs to have the confidence to communicate effectively with their team or support staff, as well as encouraging their team to be open and honest with their thoughts and feelings, and encourage feedback in staff meetings.


There are all sorts of potential hazards that can be a real danger within the community, so as a public safety manager, you will need to identify and eliminate risks before they cause any problems. Dangers may include:

  • Structurally compromised bridges
  • Unsafe buildings
  • Areas prone to flooding
  • Wildfires
  • Natural disasters

As a leader, it’s your job to work with other experts to help you identify and evaluate vulnerabilities to keep the public safe and protected at all times.


If you’re considering a career in public safety management, there are all sorts of people who you will need to engage with on a daily basis. Whether it’s city employees, local citizens, or third-party vendors, how you come across can make a big difference. Leading your own team requires you to have strong communication skills so everyone knows where they stand. Whether you work in law enforcement or as a firefighter, it’s important that you can engage with your colleagues in a professional and friendly tone to ensure any emergencies are dealt with the right way.


While you may be confident and have self-belief in your abilities, it’s important that you gain the trust and respect of your local community and colleagues too. In the aftermath of an emergency, there will be many who depend on you, so inspiring confidence in others is important. Those who act on principle and speak with conviction can help make communities trust their judgement and feel respected and valued.


When an emergency strikes, a public safety manager needs to act fast and think on their feet. Having the ability to respond quickly and effectively is crucial in a crisis situation. This means that you need to be committed to your community and the safety and wellbeing of your citizens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Gaining New Skills

Now that you have a better idea of some of the key leadership skills needed in public safety management, it’s important that you look into the next steps you can take in your career, such as a master’s degree. An online safety degree program can be perfect for those who work in roles such as:

  • Firefighter
  • Border service officer
  • Parole officer
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Law enforcement

There are various modules that you will learn throughout a masters in public safety, which will make sure you have the right skills and techniques needed for the role, such as:

  • Issues in contemporary public safety
  • Intelligence and analytics in public safety
  • Research methods

If you are destined for a career in public safety management, possessing all the leadership skills listed is crucial. It’s only natural that you will want to flourish in your role, so knowing how to communicate effectively, learning how to work well under pressure, as well as being committed to your role will help you stand out from the crowd.

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