Moving from Management to Leadership
All these theories can be polarized with transactional leadership on one end of the continuum and transformational leadership on the other. Transactional leadership exchanges rewards for compliance and is often considered “management.” It focuses on the here and now. You may have heard a supervisor say, “That’s what I pay you for!” The opposite is transformational leadership. It is a collaborative decision-making process used to bring individuals together for the good of the organization long into the future. This style takes great leadership, motivation skills, employee empowerment and vision. The next step of transformational leadership is servant leadership, which was highlighted in the May 2011 Leadership Best Practices column, “What’s a Leader to Do?” Servant leadership focuses entirely on meeting the needs of others.
While most EMS agencies and companies subscribe to the transformational leadership theory, only 5% of EMS organizations fulfill their vision.2 Could it be that EMS leaders are still using old styles of leadership? If so, why? Research has shown that engaging and empowering your workforce is better for the employees, the organization, society and the leader. It is time to take off the crown and put away the scepter before your organization follows the path of previous kings and countries that no longer exist.
1. Stone GA, Patterson K. The History of Leadership Focus. School of Leadership Studies, Regent University. www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/2005/stone_history.pdf.
2. Evans BE, Dyar JT. Management of EMS. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2010.
Troy M. Hagen, MBA, EMT-P, is director of Ada County Paramedics in Boise, ID. He has more than 22 years of EMS experience, is president-elect of the National EMS Management Association and is a member of the EMS World editorial advisory board.