Public Safety Leadership: Heavy Is the Head that Wears the Crown

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” I recently read that and, it certainly resonated with my experience in public safety leadership! The phrase has become an English idiom meaning that those charged with major responsibility carry a heavy burden. It can make it hard to relax, especially given the round-the-clock nature of what we do. In other words, it can be stressful at the top.

Sure, positions of leadership come with greater power. They come with great responsibility—for the community leaders are responsible for protecting, as well as for the people within the organization. King Henry was said to have lamented that the crown was so uncomfortable and heavy that it would not let him sleep. There are many public safety chiefs—none of them royalty—who, nonetheless, can relate. Being at the top of an agency means being responsible for a lot of people and things. It means sleepless nights.

If you want to be at the top, you must step up.

You Asked for It

But that is what comes with the job. You rose your hand and asked for the top job. If you want to be at the top, you must step up. Following are some characteristics I have noted as being universal among public safety leaders.

Loyal: We will be someone others can count on to do what we say we will.

Unwavering: Our reliability will not vary from day to day.

Steadfast: We will be steady in our commitments and hold to core values even as circumstances evolve.

Trustworthy: Others can believe us because we will always speak truth—as best as we know it. When we do not know, we admit it.

Dependable: People can rely on us to show up on time and accomplish what we agree to undertake.

Obedient: Although we will not do it perfectly, our desire and aim will be to serve our community and those within our organization, always. A true leader will prioritize the needs of the community and organization over their own self-interest.

Fruitful: Our lives will have a positive influence on others.

Faithful: We will be faithful to community and to the members within our organization. We will trust in them to do right for a better future.


These are a few qualities in leadership. I am sure there are many more, because essential to being a leader is being true to oneself.

I am reminded of Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Becoming a chief officer is such a privilege and such a responsibility. We are given much—trust, power, prestige. But that is all for nothing if we cannot deliver, and we must not simply deliver when the chips are down or when the cameras are rolling. We must serve in all than we do. Anything less, in my opinion, is dereliction. Leadership is constant!

Sam DiGiovanna

SAM DIGIOVANNA is a 40-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department, and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale. He also is also a Senior Consultant for Lexipol and the Cordico wellness solution.

More Posts

Related Posts

Back to Top