One Day, You May Lead

Dr. Andre V. Jones

Guest Writer

One day an opportunity will present itself for promotion. How? A center supervisor vacancy is announced in your organization, and here is your chance to aspire to new heights. You assert yourself to invest in and be committed to the cause. “I got this,” you think … “because I am the BEST DISPATCHER. I know everything and if you ask me, I will tell you so. My officers love me.”

Let’s be clear! That is not the job description of a supervisor, manager, or director. Leadership—something I presented on at NAVIGATOR in a session called Stepping up to Supervisor and talked about in my Journal article Attitude Reflects Leadership —is the pinnacle quality of anyone who serves as a supervisor, manager, or director. Supervision and management are foremost about the people.

Those in leadership roles lead people, they do not manage people. Workflows, tasks, reports, and schedules are managed, but people are inspired, cultivated, supported, and empowered to do the things that are managed. And the more we focus on co-creating, establishing, and monitoring instead of giving instructions and orders, the better the performance and outcomes will be. This level of awareness requires emotional intelligence, which shifts the organizational needs first mentality to one that focuses on individual needs of the people first.  

Us leaders understand that we cannot have an effective team without the commitment of the frontline staff, but beyond that, collaboration is imperative. I use the word collaboration instead of cooperation because we leaders do not want compliance; we want to tell you what our community (and responders) say they need and for us to come together to provide that service with the tools and resources we deserve.

As leaders, we are stewards, providing the tools and resources necessary for the frontline staff to do their jobs. Through various processes, we monitor the effectiveness of staff with respect to those resources and improve on those continually with feedback from the frontline staff. Create a vision, develop it, and motivate people to see the vision and execute the mission.

This is where you find your purpose and meaning. If not your own, use that of your organization. For example, Hamad Medical Corporation is the principal public health care provider in the State of Qatar, “delivering the safest, most effective and most compassionate care to each and every one of our patients.” So, each day I ask myself, “Was I safe today, was I effective today, was I compassionate today?”

As leaders, we are a morale corps that looks within, addressing perceptions and organizational culture. Leadership can provide a framework (boundaries that respect ethics, legal aspects, inclusion, transparency, and diversity), but the PEOPLE are the culture so the driving force should be the champions and devil’s advocates alike.

As a leader in public service, you are a servant and steward of talent, time, resources, relationships, and information. As a leader, you are charged with exceeding the public’s expectations by listening to their voice and providing the services they require, desire, and deserve. The issue is often finding balance between pleasing external customers while avoiding undermining internal customers.

It is, however, NOT about sacrifices. You are not giving up anything, surrendering, abandoning, abdicating. As a leader you are investing and committed to the cause. In our profession, our cause is service to our community, our responders, and most importantly, each other. Essentially, this level of service requires leadership skills to be effective. With all of this in mind, make sure that you want to be a leader. After all, some people do not want to lead, they just want to be followed.