Leadership in EMS

Leadership in EMS


Leadership in EMS is difficult and, in my opinion, does a poor job of developing and nurturing future leaders. In the military, junior leaders at all levels are nurtured for future leadership positions. For example, I would take team leaders and place them in squad leader positions (when personnel were lacking or when they were on leave) and let them practice higher-level leadership skills.

In my experience, EMS doesn't practice this type of leadership development. Instead, they promote and then hope that the person is a capable leader. I also think that the EMS "leadership" courses teach management rather than leadership. In JEMS under the Administration and Leadership section, courses titled "How EMS Managers Demonstrate Effective Leadership of Others" are posted. Also, a quick scan of the topics, there are few discussions on leadership but mostly about billing or software tools. This is considered a top periodical in our industry with little to no substance on what it takes to be a leader. Where is the discussion of leadership and ownership, not management?

We need to start thinking of people rather than things to be managed. Management refers to a method of control, while leadership is using influence to accomplish goals. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it." Organizations, like EMS, need to start thinking of ways to develop and nurture future leaders rather than the way we have been, i.e., the status quo. Young leaders make mistakes, but good ones will learn from those mistakes and make an organization better over time.

Remember, "The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it." – Warren G. Bennis