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The Harkcon Crisis Leadership Model

The things you do and decisions you make on a daily basis will dictate how you perform during the intense stress of a crisis

NEW! Crisis Leadership Model: The First 15-15 Sentinel Habits Critical for a Resilient Incident Resp

First 15TM works because it includes planning and training well in advance of an incident. You never know if today is going to be “the day,” and you can’t wish yourself out of a crisis. It is important to be prepared and First 15TM allows you to face your next crisis with confidence.

First 15TM help organizations establish a culture where every person in the organization is demonstrating and practicing specific behaviors in their daily activities and decision-making processes. These repetitive behaviors create habits that will not only strengthen the organization but will be the basis upon which it responds to incidents and crises.

These daily behaviors provide people with security and confidence; they then watch over you and your business. We have researched, cataloged, and defined the following 15 Sentinel Habits that must be practiced daily by leaders and managers at every level, branch, and team of an organization.

  1. Plan

  2. Train

  3. Empower

  4. Observe

  5. Evaluate

  6. De-Escalate

  7. Shift the paradigm

  8. Promote decentralized response

  9. Protect the flag

  10. Plan to recover

  11. Focus on continuing business operations

  12. Learn from your mistakes

  13. Do the right thing

  14. Provide accurate, timely information

  15. Manage expectations

Once these are established and encouraged in an organization's daily operations, the business will be in a constant state of awareness and readiness. It will be only a small additional step to effectively respond to any incident, large or small. The Sentinel Habits will help create a positive organizational culture that will make every part of the business better, in good times and bad.


About the authors:

Mark Ruckstuhl is part of the leadership team at Harkcon Academy. He is a 1989 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and he served in the Coast Guard for 25 years, primarily in operational afloat positions but also in several leadership positions in the Coast Guard Training System and at Headquarters. Since retiring in 2010, he has been a consultant for Harkcon Inc, leading and conducting various high-profile human performance analyses for federal law enforcement agencies.

Denny Harkins worked in the Arizona Department of Corrections for over 26 years, including 18 years in the warden ranks running prisons of every size and custody level. During his tenure he oversaw a comprehensive staffing study for the ADOC and was part of a team that brought the incident command system to Arizona Prisons, after which he served as Incident Commander for three major inmate disturbances. Since retiring, he has been actively engaged in ministry, public speaking and as a consultant in crisis response for Harkcon Academy.

Harkcon Academy is a branch of Harkcon, Inc., an award-winning Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned business committed to providing comprehensive organizational and workforce performance analysis, training development & delivery, and performance support solutions in both domestic and international environments. Harkcon Academy's speakers, instructors, and training specialists each have a deep and rich background in government, military, and private industry. Harkcon Academy brings a wealth of expertise to bear on every course, workshop, exercise, or consulting session in which they are involved.

For more information about this or any of the new initiatives at Harkcon Academy, visit or contact Mark directly at

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