Quick Take: General George S. Patton on leadership and change

Fire and EMS leaders must embrace change, and use visionary thinking to inspire crews


HENDERSON, Nev. — General George S. Patton, as played by corporate entertainer John Di Domenico, kicked off Fire-Rescue Med with a presentation that emphasized change as a necessary part of effective leadership.

"Nowadays, your battles are constantly changing," he told Fire and EMS leaders gathered in Henderson, Nev. "You need to be prepared to deal with real issues and real solutions."

His bellowing voice commanded attention as he told fire and EMS chiefs that how they confront challenges are the defining moments of leadership, and that often comes to whether they embrace change or not.

General George S. Patton, as played by corporate entertainer John Di Domenico, salutes the fire and EMS leaders attending Fire-Rescue Med.
General George S. Patton, as played by corporate entertainer John Di Domenico, salutes the fire and EMS leaders attending Fire-Rescue Med.

Adversity and challenges are also subjective, he said. Something may appear difficult at first, but leaders who are able to take a step back and view it from an opportunistic angle have a powerful advantage.

"[Change] rewards those who are flexible and able to adapt to new environments, just as it punishes those who don’t adapt."

He uses social media as an example of something new that’s had a major impact on the world.

"It has many down sides, but many up sides as well," he said. "And it’s not going to go away."

Key takeaways for EMS leaders

Fire and EMS providers are now dealing with everything from riots, to active shooter situation, to Ebola. Providers need to be well trained to understand the issues before going out to face them.

A good leader sets a direction in a dynamic, exciting and inspiring way, but must use strong management skills to guide crews in that path in a smooth and direct way.

Transformational leadership is an effective method that, leads to visionary thinking, and creates something new. It stirs emotions, inspires crews and gets people to look beyond their self-interests. A successful transformational leader must:

  • Create an inspiring vision for the future
  • Motive people to engage in the vision
  • Manage delivery of the vision
  • Coaches a team to be more effective in that vision

Most memorable quotes

"If fire EMS is to remain relevant, competitive and a political winner … we must use social media and embrace it to strengthen our community relationships."

"Every day, you have a new battle. A battle each and every one of you has sworn to fight side by side with you IAFC brotherhood. You are a team. This individuality crap is just that. A bunch of crap. Because EMS and fire service providers are dependent on each other."

"You never turn off leadership. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers are people who do things right."

"Great leaders have that one intangible. And that is gut instinct. Your gut can save your life, and the lives of others."

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