EMS Leadership: Part 12--Resonant Leadership in EMS

A resonant leader steps up and charts paths through unfamiliar territory


Janice moved quickly up the ranks of her EMS organization to become director of the county EMS organization, thanks to her demonstrated high-quality leadership. Even as an ambulance crew chief, she worked closely with her team to assure their success and to provide exceptional care for the patients she and her teammates encountered. Following are some examples of her outstanding leadership qualities.

Janice is consistently mindful of her own and her team’s personal capabilities and the feelings of patients and their family members, as well as the hospital staff they work with in the EMS environment. This mindfulness ensures that she and her team continue to provide the best patient care possible, meaning they must be constantly aware of their environment, consistently improve and keep up their medical skills, and understand that they and their patients are sometimes not having a great day. Mindfulness allows her and her teams to consistently operate in a stable and productive work environment.

Janice is hopeful that she can provide the leadership needed to sustain the EMS organization and inspires hope in her teams, the patients and their families that the best EMS care can be provided in difficult and challenging environments. The inspirational hope espoused by Janice allows her organization to have a progressive, successful and sustainable vision of the goals and objectives needed to provide the best patient care possible for their county.

Janice demonstrates empathy and compassion in everything she does. She is compassionate about her team's work and the community they support, and inspires compassion in her teams regarding their effective self-image and teaming environment. Through this inspiration, she and her teams consistently demonstrate empathy for their patients and the patient’s families. This provides a work environment that is balanced and effective in supporting their communities' emergency medical challenges. This compassionate environment builds trust not only in the ambulance teams, but also in the hospital and flight emergency teams they encounter to ensure the best possible medical care is being provided to all patients. Janice is definitely demonstrating what is known as resonant leadership.

Being a Resonant Leader

Resonant leadership is when men and women step up and chart paths through unfamiliar territory, inspiring people in their organizations to be successful and contribute to the success of the organization they are part of. There are three key elements of resonant leadership: mindfulness, hope and compassion. Mindfulness includes living in a state of full, conscious awareness of one's whole self, other individuals, and the context in which we live and work. Hope enables us to believe that the future we envision is attainable, and to move toward our visions and goals while inspiring others toward those goals as well. Compassion is where leaders understand people's wants and needs and are motivated to act on these feelings to support the individuals encountered and teams that make up the organization.

The resonant leader style was espoused by Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee and Daniel Goleman, who wrote that great leaders are resonant leaders.1 They specify that great leaders are awake, aware and attuned to themselves, to others and to the world around them. They commit to their beliefs, stand strong in their values, and live full, passionate lives. Great leaders are emotionally intelligent, mindful and seek to live in full consciousness of self, others, nature and society. Great leaders face the uncertainty of today's world with hope by inspiring through clarity of vision, optimism and profound belief in their and other individuals' ability to turn dreams into reality. Great leaders face sacrifice, difficulties and challenges, as well as opportunities, with empathy and compassion for the people they lead and those they serve.

There are five stages, known as self-directed discoveries, that a person should experience to become a great leader.2 These stages include:

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