This month’s EMS Dashboard Confessional comes from a hospital-based manager, and speaks to the human dynamic of leadership.
While in an operations leadership role in a hospital system that attempted to merge EMS services from several individual hospitals, I found myself faced with a dilemma when the system decided to stop the initiative of integration.
This decision left employees scrambling for positions because they were floating and working for hospitals where they were technically not employed. Many employees were upset about returning to their home hospital since they had found working in different geographical locations, and with different partners, made their job more enjoyable. Emotions were running high from both the staff and for the leadership.
The Director and I were called to the President of the hospital and were shown a letter from a local public safety leader that was submitted to encourage our hospital to find a way to keep a list of specific employees that were not employed by our hospital. The letter blindsided the Director and myself. as we had just completed a staff meeting directing all employees to return to their home hospital site and then we would sort out switches/swaps for requesting changes.
When we returned to our office, we immediately picked up the phone and called the staff members who we felt had orchestrated the letter. When the employees answer their cell phones, we immediately launched into our narrative about being blindsided. This caused even more emotional instability, as well as potential safety issues because we never asked if people were in a place to hear the news, or what they were doing, before we started talking about OUR point of you. Some employees were actively driving, and one was in the process of medical treatment with a loved one. Our emotions got the best of us and we led in a way that was not proactive.
The experience taught me the act of mindfulness and importance of checking in with whomever you are approaching to discuss a conflict. This could be a student, employee, subordinate or a boss. Having the wherewithal to take a deep breath, check in with the other person to see how they’re feeling before beginning my own narrative has changed my leadership style and definitely improved the respect I receive from people who work for me, with me, or beside me. Similar to holistic medicine, this is an example of holistic leadership, which promotes treating the employee from a physical, mental, and spiritual approach and thus allows for enhanced communication.
“This is a great example of progressive EMS leadership,” says Anthony W. Minge, Ed.D, Partner at Fitch and Associates. “This leader identified a starting point that was not centered around the staff, but rather was directed inward at his or her feelings. Recognizing that it may not be ‘about you’ and that other dynamics may be at play is critical for an effective servant leader.” Anthony leads the Ambulance Service Manager and Communications Center Manager programs for Fitch, and is co-chair of the Pinnacle EMS Leadership Forum.