Brain LaCroix is a featured speaker at EMS World Expo 2014, November 9–13, in Nashville, TN. Murmurations of starlings is the term given to describe the beauty of hundreds, sometimes thousands of individual birds taking flight, swirling and darting in a mesmerizing flow.
The recently released National EMS Officer Competencies from the National EMS Management Association identify six specific areas of focus when leading others. Management and leadership textbooks are filled with theories and techniques describing ways to put these competencies into practice.
This is what rounding for outcomes is all about—having deliberate conversations with every employee on a regular basis about the things that matter to them. Situational leadership is a leadership style that has been developed and studied by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey. Situational leadership can be very effective, particularly when there is new material to learn or new people to integrate into an organization.
The nine block matrix (see Figure 1) is a simple but effective tool, particularly for those who lead other leaders, for succession planning. Often attributed to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, the nine block can be a very effective tool.
Brian LaCroix, BS, EMT-P, is president of Allina Health EMS in Minnesota and a board member of the National EMS Management Association. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Mission The Apple commitment to excellence is its mission to provide computers and service for people that meet the highest standards of value and reliability.
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But these starlings do offer some pragmatic food for thought, inasmuch as EMS operations are often a high-stakes mission performed by independent practitioners in a highly dynamic environment.
They are communications, interpersonal awareness, motivating others, developing others, influencing, and human resources management.


Here we will review three specific tactics that organizations of all stripes can use to advance their own competency when leading their staff. It may sound simple, but it can be challenging to set aside deliberate time to just talk when the daily demands of EMS can keep you busy putting out fires in a revolving door. While the leader still provides encouragement and direction, the decisions ultimately lie with the follower. It’s a simple grid with three squares up and three squares across, creating, as the name implies, nine blocks. Leadership matters and EMS organizations of all shapes, sizes and tax statuses can benefit by creating an environment where caregivers really love their jobs because they get to do meaningful work, and are part of a high-performing team—a team as flexible, hard-working and awe-inspiring as the murmurations of starlings.
Apple is one of the leaders in the computer industry and produces some of the best-selling computers and digital music products in the world. The flock is at once both liquid and solid, expanding and contracting, up and down, back and forth.
In a fascinating paper published last year by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), it was reported that starlings are able to accomplish such close-quarter maneuvers by paying attention to the closest seven neighbors flying next to them.
Good EMS leaders create the atmosphere within which our caregivers can operate successfully on their own. It is the leader who changes his or her approach, not expecting the follower to adapt to the leader’s style. Remember, at its core situational leadership isn’t really leadership at all, but rather a management technique. Employees are ranked by their leader on the Y axis, based on their past performance—low, medium or high.
Plain brownish and speckled, they are stocky little birds with triangular wings that you might never notice foraging across your lawn. When one moves, the nearest other birds move too, and the maneuver is repeated across the flock. Furthermore, in the best organizations caregivers are encouraged to not only perform well independently, but support and enhance the overall performance of the team around them.By definition “organizational leadership” is the study of leadership within different types of organizations. It’s a practice that helps caregivers feel they have purpose, are doing worthwhile work and making a difference.One caution—employees need to understand this isn’t just an opportunity to back up the dump truck full of complaints.


Make sure your high performers know you think they are high performers, and re-recruit them before someone else does. Emergency medical services is arguably a unique environment within which to be a leader, but not necessarily unique in terms of the skills that all really good leaders should have. If that happens leaders will end up with a long list of to-dos that will be impossible to accomplish, creating further frustration.
So don’t let the technique become a replacement for your responsibility to have a genuine relationship with your staff.
Rankings are typically reviewed by the senior leadership team to gain consensus.High-performing individuals who also are perceived as having high potential land in the top right quadrant.
As for any low performers, honest and direct communication can help people understand what is expected of them. We also apply innovative technology to our core business to make our products irresistible to customers, beneficial to society, and profitable to our company. It’s a whole lot more rewarding—and cost-effective—to help low performers improve rather than move them out. We strive to provide additional opportunities for growth and enrichment of company personnel while maintaining a work environment for all employees that encourages personal commitment and participation in support of achieving excellence.
Importantly, leaders should spend just as much time explaining why something might not be able to be done as meeting an employee’s request. In contrast, those in the lower left quadrant (low performer, low potential) need to be managed up or out of the organization.
We are committed to being a good corporate citizen, and being openly honest with all of our stakeholders. The various blocks in between help identify where people land on the continuum of their own career development. We support activities that enable people to improve their lives and reinforce their commitment to society.



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