The 4-7-1 NOLS Leadership Model

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) succinctly defines leadership as; situationally appropriate action/s that direct/s or guide/s your7-4-1 diagram group to set and achieve realistic goals, and here at Right Seat Medicine we believe both highly appropriate and easily transferrable to the prehospital environment.

The NOLS 4:7:1 Leadership model allows us to separate the often ambiguous and overused term of ‘leadership’ into three distinct categories of 4 roles, 7 skills and one style. 

 The four Roles within the NOLS 4:7:1 model refer to the following;

  • Designated Leadership – as exampled in the attendant role, you are responsible for the direction of the group and the call. The traditional leadership role we are all familiar with.
  • Active Followership – leadership through service, as example in the ‘driver role’ where you are there to support your attendant in serving the mission – direction of the call and facilitate the treatment plan initited by the attendant.
  • Peer Leadership – exampled in how you conduct yourself amongst your peers, over coffee, in the cab; how do you direct conversation, do you bring it up or bring people down? The language that you use as a professional communicator in the workplace.
  • Self Leadership – your personal conduct, everytime you put on the uniform. Do you do your dishes at the station, are you timely, are your boots clean?

The seven skills of7 skills the NOLS 4:7:1 model

  1. Competence
  2. Communication
  3. Judgement & Decision Making
  4. Self Awareness
  5. Vision & Action
  6. Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty
  7. Expedition Behavior

All of which encompass the skill sets required of any practitioner in the prehospital environment. These 7 skills now allow us to quantify the varying aspects of leadership we hope to develop in ourselves or when providing feedback to others. Gone are the days of ambiguity surrounding the term leadership, models such as these allow us to break down the amorphism of the term and target those areas of ‘leadership’ that require attention. While these 7 skills are expeditionary oriented, clinical and prehospital specitifc criterium are easily applied, would you not consider each call a journey unto itself?

This model is further being developed for use amongst Mentor communities to allow for the enhanced leadership development of Resident practitioners within tiered and targeted systems. Whilst this model can be tailored and used throughout any prehopital environment, its value in the layered system is clearly apparent with ALS attendants regularly communicating and coordinating with multiple crew types and agnecy on most calls.

“We must be careful not to make intellect our god. It has of course; powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead, only serve.”  – Albert Einstein