Sitting to reflect on the last three months as I moved through this course, it was difficult to see past the previous three weeks. As COVID-19 has established new norms for our daily routines, priorities, and perspectives, it is difficult to see past the surreal nature of the quiet streets, homeschooling, working from home, and isolation while trying to remain positive for those around us.
Life has changed!
I have spent the majority of my career as a paramedic and a paramedic educator preparing for disasters. I trained with experts to become a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNe) educator and curriculum designer. Studying biological threats was second nature and training police officers, paramedics, firefighters, nurses, and physicians on safe responses to CBRNe threats remained a challenging and rewarding pursuit.
Working on a critical care helicopter during the Ontario SARS outbreak reinforced the value of teamwork, but more importantly, the crucial need for real-time accurate information. At the time, I had been exposed to a variety of leadership styles, had seen significant leadership failures, and had begun a journey to become a better leader.
As this course began, I would have considered myself a coach style leader (13 Common Leadership Styles, 2020). However, as I read more about leadership methods, leadership theories, and leadership models I came to the realization that the title of my leadership style would vary depending on the source material I was reading (Castelli, 2016) and, more importantly, the situation or project.
During my daily work as an Educator or Learning Designer, I would consider myself a Transformational leader (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). As a Critical Care Flight Paramedic, I was more aligned with the Servant leadership style (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). When COVID-19 began to challenge our daily lives and forced our team into contingency planning, the Educator, Learning Designer, and Paramedic backgrounds blended together, and I found myself taking on an Autocratic leadership approach with many projects. In most instances the time constraints did not allow for consensus-based leadership. I find that although I can offer support and encouragement for team members, and the work is completed in a timely manner, the Autocratic leadership style is not favoured by me, nor my team members at times despite its effective results.
My perspective on leadership had indeed changed during the past three months. I better understand the value of Adaptive Leadership and the need for follower motivation (Khan, 2017). My current positions within the organizations I work with are not typical leadership positions. This was a welcomed and significant change that I made for my work-life balance. To lead change within these organizations I now need to lead through example and influence with sound suggestions that are reinforced through evidence rather than leaning on my experience and opinions alone.
Education, technology, and medicine are all complex systems individually. Combining the three fields within medical education, utilizing purposeful technological integration is a complicated machinery that relies on several moving parts to work well together. I recall an aircraft mechanical engineer manipulating a John Glenn quote telling me once that a helicopter is twenty thousand individual parts, put together by the lowest bidder, working together to make an object fly that is not intended by nature to fly. Medical education sometimes feels this way when leadership is not as effective as it needs to be.
This course has increased my toolbox significantly. Not only has it allowed for focused reflection on my own leadership style, it has allowed me to see the importance of adaptive leadership and follower motivation. I look forward to continuing to learn and evolve my leadership style.
Thank you for taking some time out of your day to read this post.
What are your thoughts on leadership? Have you found yourself shifting your style drastically to accommodate project need? Please comment below.
Enjoy the rest of your day!
13 Common Leadership Styles. (2020). Western University, Ivey Business School. https://www.ivey.uwo.ca/academy/blog/2020/01/13-common-leadership-styles/
Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112
Eagly, A. H., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2001). The leadership styles of women and men. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 781–797. https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00241
Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or transactional leadership in current higher education: A brief comparison. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(3), 178–183. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i3.3294