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Sea Gull Leaders Part 1 of 3

Sea Gull Leaders Part 1 of 3

In his groundbreaking book, "The One Minute Manager", author Ken Blanchard coined the term, the "Seagull Manager".  In it he wrote, "Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly out.”    I believe that all of us have worked for seagull leaders, but this posting is not about how to work with them.  Instead, it is my contention that, even though you may not have the title, you are a leader.  My friend and colleague, Jon Friesen once shared a presentation called, "Leading From the Back of the Ambulance".  In it he profiled EMS leaders from around the state of Kansas that were not formal EMS supervisors or directors, but were effective leaders despite not having a title. 

How can you identify if you are a seagull leader or not?    In order to know, we need to break down each component as outlined by Blanchard. First, are you that type of leader that I never to be found when the mundane tasks of EMS need to be completed?  If this identifies you, keep in mind that you may be a manager, but not a very effective leader.   These are two very different job descriptions.  Your responders may do what you order them to do out of fear of losing their job, but not much more. If you want to be more effective, then you must be available during times that do not have a disciplinary atmosphere. 

Leaders who only swoop in to "lower the boom" and are never seen again seldom have the kind of influence that they seek or need. I once had an EMS director who regularly cleaned the toilets in our headquarters station.  When someone would ask him as to why he did this, his replied with a laugh, "Someday, you will get the best jobs too!"  Did he have the respect of his medics? Absolutely! He modeled the behavior that he wanted to see and as a result he was much more approachable.  Don't be a seagull.  Be there for your responders on a regular basis, in both the good times as well as the bad.   

Published on January 14, 2016

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