Build bridges and ensure your visibility extends to the other services within your jurisdiction. Foster productive relationships with the local police, fire and emergency departments, community members, and, dare I say, politicians. You never know when you might need something from one of your partners. And it’s far easier to ask for a favor from a familiar face than a stranger.
The third key factor for success is continuing education. If you’re leading, you should be reading. There are numerous resources available to leaders of all experience levels. Journal subscriptions are a requirement, as is keeping up with the latest books. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of books available on leadership, management and communication skills, with new ones published often. A great place to start is with anything published by Fire Starter Publishing. They publish all the books for Studer Group and have a storied history in healthcare and leadership. Don’t just live in the healthcare world though. Branch out and pick up books by Jim Collins or Stephen Covey. And take a look at a great team-building book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
The Internet is also full of references. EMS Leadership posts free hour-long podcasts weekly, discussing any number of leadership topics specific to EMS.
Remember, when it comes to continuing education it’s important to relate, not compare. That means if you’re reading Harvard Business Review, don’t be concerned that you’re not part of a multinational corporation. Rather, what nugget of information can you take from the article you’re reading that might help you with what your agency is doing currently?
Finally continuing education requires mentorship. Find someone who has been successful in your role and ask questions. Make it a regular routine. Mistakes can be prevented if they’re identified early, and the best way to do that is by talking to people who have seen and done it all before. Learning from your colleagues it is well worth the cost of a lunch or dinner, and the best advice is often free. And because you value your mentors’ time as much as their knowledge, be sure to always thank them appropriately.
There is no single trait that makes someone a successful leader; it takes a multitude. These are just a few recommendations, but they are universal. By keeping your goals aligned, maintaining visibility and continuing your education, you’ll point your career in the right direction.
Patrick Pianezza, MHA, NREMT-P, is a consultant experienced with Studer, HCAPS, Gallup and Press Ganey principles. Along with nearly a decade of experience in the prehospital arena, he has worked for Johns Hopkins Hospital and Studer Group. He is currently the manager of service excellence for San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield, CA. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.