TBLL: Table of Contents

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership and culture development tactics. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help. Click on any of the titles to be taken directly to that particular blog.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. You can follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership or check us out on Facebook.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and, as always, LEAD ON!

06/25/14              Welcome to Thin Blue Line of Leadership

06/25/14              Thin Blue Line of Leadership Logo Explanation

06/29/14              Law Enforcement Lingo 101

07/10/14              Defining the Thin Blue Line Leader

07/17/14              Power, Passion, People, and Production

07/24/14              14 Ways to Create a Positive Squad Culture

08/07/14              3 Keys to Squad Expectation Success

08/14/14              Saving the World One Call at a Time

08/27/14             6 Ways to Positively Influence Officer Behavior

09/04/14             The 3 Accountability Relationships in Law Enforcement

09/30/14             Welcome to the Squad: New Officer Checklist

10/23/14              5 Basic Leadership Lessons

11/23/14               Law Enforcement Recognition Idea

12/17/14               Intentional Culture

01/07/15              Confusion of Sacrifice

01/21/15               Don’t Get Captured

02/09/15             Change and Reputation

02/19/15              Insubordination?

03/25/15              The 10 Law Enforcement Leadership Commandments

04/07/15              A Law Enforcement Leadership Reward

04/14/15              Good to Great: A Law Enforcement Leader’s Viewpoint

05/18/15              BRIEFING IDEA: What makes a great beat cop?

06/02/15             Shifting Gears in Policing

06/23/15              4 Keys to Building Influence

07/15/15              5 Killers of Positive Culture

07/23/15              10 Keys to a Successful Oral Board

08/03/15              Creating “Wow” Moments in Policing

08/10/15              5 Steps to Develop Squad Culture

09/23/15              7 Core Values for Building a Team – Part 1

09/29/15              7 Core Values for Building a Team – Part 2

01/19/16               Transactional vs. Relational Policing

02/16/16               3 Components to Law Enforcement Leadership

02/29/16              HELP WANTED: Police Officers

03/16/16               Culture in Just 4 Words

03/29/16               A Simple Gesture

04/27/16               Trickle-Down Leadership

05/11/16                 10 Steps to Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement – Part 1

05/25/16                10 Steps to Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement – Part 2

06/08/16                3 Signs of a Miserable Law Enforcement Job

07/12/16                 TBLL Leadership Reading List

10/26/16                 10 Tips for New Sergeants

11/01/16                  PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model

11/16/16                  The 3 PRIDE Loops

11/30/16                  Leading with P-R-I-D-E

12/07/16                  Predictive Policing

01/09/17                 Briefing with Purpose

04/23/17                 Advanced Officer Training Day

03/26/18                 1 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Start with Why

04/03/18                 2 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Strive to be a Great Leader

04/11/18                 3 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Intentionally Create Culture

04/16/18                 4 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Building Unity and Loyalty

04/24/18                 5 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Personal Accountability

05/02/18                 6 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Show Recognition

05/09/18                 7 of 7 Core Values for Building a Team – Make People Feel Safe

07/30/18                 Leadership Accountability: Internal and External Accountability

08/08/18                 Leadership Accountability – It’s All About Me!

08/20/18                 Leadership Accountability – Control vs. Influence

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7 Core Value for Building a Team (Videos)

For my police department, I created a leadership training based upon the TBLL Blog entitled, “7 Core Values for Building a Team.” Within this training were 7 short videos that utilize modified interviews from the EntreLeadership Podcast by Dave Ramsey which were set to law enforcement related images and words. These videos served as an excellent starting point for discussion and debate over the 7 Core Values for Building a Team.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time and Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

VIDEO LINKS:

 

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Share your thoughts or comments on this blog below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

A Unique Sergeant Process

As a sergeant in my department’s training unit, one of my duties is the coordination and implementation of our Sergeant Testing Process. Over the last 4 years, I have been a member of the team tasked with the development of this unique process. Our overall goal is to identify and promote the department’s best leaders.  Here is an outline of how we are doing that…

  1. Department Leadership Development Program

We began by creating a leadership development program for anyone even remotely interested in possibly promoting within the department. Sworn or non-sworn, all are welcome to attend, learn, and discuss leadership from a law enforcement perspective. We offer 2 classes per month focusing on topics such as building teams, leadership accountability, ethical leadership, building influence, and many others. These are highly interactive courses designed to assist the attendees in developing their own unique leadership philosophy and not shoving one particular style down their throats. While being a part of this program is not mandatory for those interested in promoting to sergeant, it does provide an item for the resume and also exposes them to multiple perspectives of law enforcement leadership which greatly helps with later pieces of the Sergeant Testing Process. Approximately 75% of the people that we promote to sergeant were a part of this program.

  1. Sergeant Testing Process Announcement

The announcement for the Sergeant Testing Process comes out 6 months prior to the expiration of our current sergeant promotional list. The entire Sergeant Testing Process is a lengthy one which requires those interested in testing to be dedicated to the idea of promoting to sergeant. This helps to remove those “I’ll just throw my hat in the ring and see what happens” type people from trying to promote. This announcement spells out every one of the following steps in detail so the expectations are clear.

  1. The Written Test

Having a written test is nothing unique to any other Sergeant Testing Process, but it is only the beginning of our process. Our test is 50 multiple choice questions and designed to verify that those continuing in the process have a minimum baseline of knowledge and the ability to apply state law, policy/procedure, and case law. Where our test becomes unique is that the majority of the questions are patrol scenario-based. We are not looking for memorizers, we are looking for those that can apply their knowledge. All of the scenarios are real-world situations that have happened to current patrol sergeants and required the sergeant to know the answer “off the top of their head.” The tests are validated by having our current patrol sergeants take the test and utilizing an average of their scores to create the passing score. If a candidate does not meet the minimum passing score, then they are done with this process.

  1. The Standardized Resume

For the candidates that pass the written test, they must submit a standardized resume. This resume is designed to have the same sections of information, font, available space, and overall appearance for each candidate. This reduces the positive or negative style factors that can sometimes play a role when reviewing multiple resumes. Because all of these standardized resumes look alike, focus can be maintained on the information contained within. Our standardized resume highlights positions of leadership and contributions made to the department by providing specific space for sharing information regarding being a Field Trainer, General Instructor, and initiative taken to prepare for this process. These pieces of the resume go beyond just yes/no that it was done and asks for information about their last four trainees and what classes they have taught. The standardized resume is then made available throughout the remainder of the Sergeant Testing Process.

  1. Lieutenant Panel Interview

After passing the written test, the next step in the process is to participate in a Lieutenant Panel Interview. Our panel consists of three patrol lieutenants. They review each candidate’s standardized resume prior to the oral board. Questions on the oral board focus on leadership, emotional intelligence, tactical knowledge, and the transition to becoming a sergeant. There is no specific number for how many candidates can pass this part of the process. The goal for the Lieutenant Panel Interview is to assess who is ready to lead. The passing candidates will be taught the job of being a sergeant; it is leadership that is much more difficult to learn once promoted. Over the last 4 years, approximately 50 – 60% of the applying candidate make it through to the next step.

  1. Basic Sergeant School

Those that make it through the Lieutenant Panel Interview attend a week long Basic Sergeant School. The school consists of 12 topics of instructions that are presented by our in-house experts. Everything from emergency response strategy to payroll to mental health to patrol sergeant admin tasks gets covered. Because the focus of the process so far has been identifying leaders, we are able to focus the school on these more managerial topics and not waste time trying to teach leadership ineffectively. The Basic Sergeant School provides detailed knowledge of a sergeant’s job so when candidates begin field training they can combine and apply this knowledge and their leadership from the beginning. Each day of the school ends with a discussion panel. Panels in our most recent school included groups of Detective Supervisors, Lieutenants, New Patrol Sergeants, and Patrol Support Supervisors. Each of these panels provided an open forum for the candidates to asked questions of each unique group and also to assist them in developing their own network of department resources.

  1. Sergeant Field Training

It is during Sergeant Field Training that we learn who is and who is not ready to be a patrol sergeant. Each candidate goes through a 5 week Sergeant Field Training period. They are not promoted, but are given sergeant chevron pins for their collars so they stand out from a standard patrol officer. There are three phases and the candidates will spend time with 2 different patrol sergeants. The candidates essentially become the sergeant for the squads they are assigned with the Sergeant Field Trainer there to assist, coach, teach, and mentor them through learning the job of being a patrol sergeant. The Sergeant Field Trainers help them learn to apply the knowledge they were taught in the Basic Sergeant School. Each day, a Daily Observation Report (DOR) is completed and they are scored. At the end of each phase, both the Sergeant Field Trainer and their assigned Lieutenant write a Phase Summary Report that discusses the candidate’s ability to lead, manage the job, and handle any emergency traffic or significant investigations they were involved in. If a candidate cannot manage to perform the tasks of a patrol sergeants, they can be removed from the program at this point in the process. One of the most significant benefits of doing sergeant field training before promoting a candidate is that they can simply return to their current assignment if it is discovered that being a sergeant is not for them.

  1. Chiefs Oral Board

After Sergeant Field Training, all of the documentation regarding their performance is collected along with their Standardized Resume and a packet is created for each candidate. These packets are given to the Chief of Police and the two Assistant Chiefs of Police to review. After they have had sufficient time to review each candidate’s performance and information, the Chiefs Oral Board is schedule. The Chiefs ask a variety of questions related to the candidate’s learning and performance of the Patrol Sergeant position. From this oral board panel, the Chiefs create a ranked Promotional List.

  1. Auxiliary Sergeants

Because we have a ranked list of officers/detectives that have been trained in and shown proficiency at performing the duties of a patrol sergeant, we have also created a pool “auxiliary sergeants.” They can be utilized (as their schedules permit) to assist in covering patrol squads whenever a squad’s sergeant is off/out of duty a week or longer. This could be due to a vacation, illness, or injury. As the candidates are waiting on the ranked list to promote, helping to cover patrol squads maintains the patrol sergeant skill set they learned during this process. While serving as an “auxiliary sergeant,” they are paid at the base hourly rate of a new sergeant. This creates a win all around for both the department and those waiting on the list to promote.

It is usually at this point in the discussion of this process that someone asks what happens if they do not promote off of the list. The ranked list is good for 1 year. If a candidate on that list does not promote within the year and they have filled in where opportunities were available as an “auxiliary sergeant,” then when the next process begins they will be able to skip all the way to the Chief’s Oral Board. In the Chiefs Oral Board, they will be able to discuss how they have performed as an “auxiliary sergeant” without the aide of a field trainer. If they have proven themselves to be a reliable “auxiliary sergeant,” then they usually find their way near the top of the next year’s ranked list.

Over the last 4 years, this process has consistently produced some of the best Sergeant Promotional Lists we have ever seen. The candidates are better prepared and more comfortable stepping in and taking on the role of being a patrol sergeant.

A few key details – This process is utilized in a department of approximately 400 sworn. It requires someone dedicated to its coordination and implementation, as well as, commitment from Human Resources and the entire Chain of Command.

If you have questions, feel free to ask. It is only due to the success of this process that I share it with you here at Thin Blue Line of Leadership.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

Leadership Accountability – Control vs. Influence

KEY POINTS PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED ABOUT LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability is the actions, attitude, and effort necessary to merge expectations with performance.

Understanding who controls the expectations and who controls the performance is key to understanding leadership accountability.

Leadership accountability is all about ME. It start with ME. It sustains with ME. It grows with ME. It can be ended by ME. My ACTIONS, ATTITUDE, and EFFORT.

Before I can even begin to discuss control versus influence, we must be on the same page regarding the Dynamics of Human Interactions. Whether we are discussing leadership accountability, a use of force situation, handling a “routine” call for service, or any other leadership situation, the same three components always come into play.

As a leader, I must understand these dynamics in order to truly comprehend what I control and what I influence in the world around me. The most significant mistakes ever made in leadership commonly originate from the leader attempting to control something they do not truly have control over. If they had merely asked themself, “How can I influence this?” interaction with this other person or circumstance, the situation may have turned out much differently.

Slide9

In every interaction we have as human beings, there are three basic components: ME, OTHER PEOPLE, and the CIRCUMSTANCES that bring us together.

Slide10

Of these three components, it is vital that I recognize and understand there is only one of these that I have true control over – MYSELF. I cannot control other people and I cannot control the circumstances that brought everything together. So, within myself, the things I truly have control over are my actions, my attitude, and my effort.

  • What actions do I have the ability to take? Options?
  • What attitude is the best approach for the situation?
  • How much effort is necessary to properly handle this situation?

Slide11

If I take responsibility for and own my actions, attitude, and effort, then I also have to accept that I control my Reactions to the external components of these Dynamics of Human Interactions. As information comes in from Other People, Circumstances, and their Interactions, I must accept that I have NO control over them at all. I initially can only control my reactions to the information coming in about them through the actions, attitude, and effort I CHOOSE to respond with.

But, this is not easy. I, as a human being, am an emotional and reactional creature by nature. It has been programmed into me over thousands of years to survive. Sometimes those survival instincts are beneficial and sometimes they are not. When my survival instincts tell me to strike back quickly, act in a manner that is solely based upon self-preservation, and is the path of least resistance, then I must find a way to freeze the moment and remember what I control. This is especially true in leadership situations.

Slide12

I must accept I cannot CONTROL Other People, Circumstances, and their Interactions. As a leader, I must also accept I can INFLUENCE them. By recognizing that my actions, my attitude, and my effort are the tools I possess to positively influence them, I can begin to see leadership situations in a much different light. The greater my influence, the greater my leadership. The greater my leadership, the more vital it becomes for me to act consistently to maximize my influence.

Slide13

How do I maximize my influence in regards to leadership accountability? I practice personal accountability myself day in and day out by controlling that which I control. I set clear expectations that provide a vision of the future, not just repeat rules and policies. I provide training, instruction, coaching, counselling, and mentoring. I discipline when necessary to educate, not punish. Finally, I recognize good work and positively reinforce it every chance I get. All of these are methods for me to influence those I lead and the circumstances I am a part of through my actions, my attitude, and my effort.

Whenever I find myself feeling stress while handling a situation of leadership, I simply hit my mental pause button and change the internal question I am asking myself from “How can I control this?” to “How can I influence this?” Suddenly, the feelings of stress and anxiety begin to dissipate and I begin working with what I control – MYSELF.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

Leadership Accountability – It’s All About Me!

Accountability – the actions, attitude, and effort necessary to merge expectations with performance.

As we move forward with our discussion about leadership accountability, I must address two common myths that often send leaders down incorrect paths, or worse, make them appear to be hypocrites.

MYTH #1: Accountability is a team thing.

WE

When I read books or listen to someone speak about leadership, I notice the theme of building positive, supportive, and unified teams is everywhere. Heck, I often write about the power of teams here on the TBLL Blog and fully endorse the benefits of building strong teams. However, when it comes to accountability, especially leadership accountability, it is not a team concept. The idea of “you hold me accountable and I, the leader, will hold you accountable” sounds great on paper or when said aloud, but there is one significant flaw in this logic. There is a complete lack of internal accountability being demonstrated where I recognize that I have the power to control both my expectations and my performance at all times. If I am relying on someone else to hold me accountable, am I really being accountable at all? The team accountability concept is based upon others controlling or setting my expectations for me. It means I am turning over the power of controlling my actions, attitude, and effort to say I need you to watch me and make sure I stay on the right path or do the right thing. Ultimately, the most significant issue with leadership accountability under this model becomes who is really leading, forging ahead, and setting the example?

MYTH #2: Accountability is something I, the leader, bestow upon other people.

THEMThe second myth of accountability is that accountability is only something I do to other people. Specifically, the people that work on my squad or unit. If my view is that accountability is an external process of me holding others to my expectations or those of the department, then I am creating a culture of “them” and “they.” With this idea of accountability, I believe I must hold them accountable at all times and attempt to control their performance towards my expectations. This often comes across as micromanaging to those being led and to me it feels as if my entire job has become running around putting out fires all day. To those I am holding accountable, their perspective becomes one of contempt and I have now become part of the infamous “they.” The generic pronoun used to describe those higher in power within an organization when we feel there is not a choice in whatever matter is at hand. Ultimately, this style of accountability is only sustainable for as long as the leader can manage the energy to keep it up and they are physically present around those they are “leading” to enforce their expectations. Once the leader become too tired to keep it up, they retract to the confines of their office to hide because they just cannot manage the level of effort required to constantly hold six to eight people constantly accountable. Worst of all is that none of those on the squad or unit have ever learned how to hold themselves accountable to these expectations because the boss has always done it for them.

TRUTH: Accountability, especially leadership accountability, it is all about me.

METhe truth about leadership accountability is that it is all about ME. It start with ME. It sustains with ME. It grows with ME. It can be ended by ME. The concept of anything in leadership being “all about me” is a colossal departure from 99.9% of what I read and hear about good leadership, but when it comes to leadership accountability it truly is MY actions, attitude, and effort that dictate my application of accountability. Leadership accountability is an inside out process. It is through internal accountability that I set the proverbial bar or expectations. Those I am leading see what I am doing, how I am doing it, and most importantly I explain why I am doing what I am doing. As the example is set, then I have earned the right to set external expectations of those I am leading because they know that I am not and never would ask them to do something I am not doing or willing to do myself. In other words, I must exemplify accountability before I can ever expect it from those I lead – that is leadership accountability.

Once the example of leadership accountability is set, then it begins to grow. In the next TBLL Blog, we will discuss how accountability grows through the leader’s example.

Questions to ponder . . .

  • In my current leadership position, did I set the expectations first or set the example first?
  • What are the benefits to be gained from exemplifying a solid foundation of leadership accountability?
  • As a leader, do I control those I am leading or do I influence them?

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

*** Parts of this blog are paraphrased from the excellent book, QBQ: The Questions Behind the Question by John G. Miller.

Leadership Accountability – Internal and External Accountability

What is accountability? Take a brief moment to ask yourself what this word truly means to you. Can you define it? Put it into words? Does it involve other people or just yourself?

What is leadership accountability? Once you take on a leadership role, does the definition of accountability change? If so, how does it change? Does it involve other people or just yourself?

These are questions leaders need to consider and have a grasp upon for themselves. Over the next few Thin Blue Line of Leadership blogs, I am going to attempt to answer these questions on accountability and leadership accountability.

From this point forward in the blog, I am going to write in the first-person because I am a leader, too. A leader that has made leadership mistakes, struggled with my own accountability, and asked myself questions about how to appropriately hold other people accountable. When writing or speaking about accountability, it is too easy to hear the pronoun “you” as a challenge or an attack. So, as you read this blog further, please personalize this information for the benefit of yourself and your specific situation.

Slide2

Accountability in this diagram is represented by the green rectangle filling the void between expectations and performance. Here is how I define accountability – Accountability is the actions, attitude, and effort necessary to merge expectations with performance.

Why actions, attitude, and effort? Because in life, the only things I truly have control over are my actions, my attitude, and my effort. Those three things are the building blocks I have to work with for solving any problem I may face; including problems related to accountability. My actions, my attitude, and my effort are not only the lens through which I react to my perceptions of my world, but also serve as the ammunition with which I have to influence the world around me.

There are two types of accountability to consider before moving on: internal and external. Internal accountability is when I control or support an expectation and I also control the related performance of the a situation or circumstance. One example of an internal accountability issue would be body weight. If I have an expectation that my goal weight should be 200 pounds, then it is only through my performance, control of my actions, attitude, and effort, that I have any real chance of meeting that expectation.

Slide4

External accountability is when I control or support an expectation, but the performance is controlled by another person. Specifically, it is controlled by their actions, attitude, and effort. For example, if my police department has an expectation that officers should always wear their seatbelt when driving in their patrol vehicle, then that would be the expectations that I must support through my actions, attitude, and effort. However, in carrying out the performance associated with this expectation, it will be the officers’ actions, attitude, and effort that will determine if performance meets expectations. The difference in between and closing that gap is where leadership accountability comes into play.

It has often been my failure, or maybe reluctance at times, to recognize who controls expectations and who controls performance that has led to my worst leadership decisions. Whether it was setting unrealistic expectations, expectations that did not challenge, or failing to take into account who really controls the performance of an expectation; all of these can cause a leadership accountability failure. Ultimately, when speaking on accountability, it is the responsibility of the leader to recognize what they control versus that which they influence.

Over the next few weeks, Thin Blue Line of Leadership will continue to explore the topic of leadership accountability and attempt to answer this question – Why does leadership accountability seem so simple on its face, but often times is incredibly challenging to put into practice?

Questions to ponder . . .

  • Do we really control our actions, attitude, and effort? At all times?
  • What is the difference for a leader difference between control and influence?
  • What are a leader’s options for merging expectations with performance?

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

5 Basic Leadership Lessons

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to share positive leadership tactics with the field of law enforcement. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. The minute an officer decides to promote to a supervisor position within a law enforcement organization, they have chosen to take on the great responsibility of being a leader, coach, caretaker, psychologist, teacher, and many more.

Here are 5 basic leadership lessons for new law enforcement supervisors.

  1. Know the mission! As a leader in a law enforcement organization, it is your responsibility to know your department’s mission statement and goals. When guiding officers through calls, handling complaints, or evaluating a situation; the department’s mission is the guide. It should be more than just a few sentences in a general orders book of a framed picture on the wall; make it real by speaking of it regularly in briefing. Give examples of what it looks like on the road.
  2. Set clear expectations! This lesson is not referring to setting quotas or other quantitative measures. It is about clearly defining a path to success for your officers’ careers. It means defining how to treat people, use force appropriately, conduct thorough investigations, think critically under stress, and remembering that this is a career of service. The culture, your squad’s actions and attitudes, will be a reflection of the expectations you establish. (More on expectations.)
  3. Set goals! As a leader, you should obviously have your own goals, but this is specifically referring to assisting your officers in developing their own short and long term goals. Your own personal success will be derived from helping your officers reach their goals. Goals should be forward thinking and in agreement with department/district goals. In the short term, have your officers establishing goals they would like to accomplish in the next year that correspond to beat issues, crime trends, or other defined problems within their areas of responsibility. They should also consider trainings they would like to attend or other personnel development toward future assignments they would like to obtain. For the long term, discuss where they see their career in 5 years or 10 years; what specialty assignments they are interesting in, are they interesting in promoting, etc. Then you must assist them by providing training opportunities, helping them develop their strengths, and make connections with people that work in the officer’s area of interest. Use their goals as a springboard for having consistent, on-going evaluation conversations.
  4. Set the example! As a supervisor, it is vital that you are out with your officers on the road as much as possible. Not only does this show your willingness to be involved and “get your hands dirty,” but it also gives them the perfect opportunity to observe you in action setting the example of how they should be – representing your own expectations. Your officers will be watching closely to see how you treat people and make decisions; especially in the tough situation where they may not be sure how to act or react. When you come across a situation where your officers are unsure of a solution to their call, it provides you the perfect opportunity to teach them your decision-making process. Ask a standard set of questions to walk them through problems: What do you know? What do you think? Have you considered this? Then let them make the ultimate decision . . . example set!
  5. Recognize, reward, promote! As a supervisor, it is easy to see all of the things going wrong because typically you have just finished studying every nook and cranny of department policy to pass your supervisor test. The challenge is in stepping back and recognizing the good. Purposely train yourself to identify not only things that need fixing or reeducating, but those things that are being done above and beyond what you would expect normally from an officer. Once you begin recognizing the good, it is imperative that you find ways to reward those behaviors. (An idea on rewarding officers.) It does not have to be anything fancy or of monetary value, but simply telling an officer that they did a good job and specifically defining what they did good can go a long way. After recognizing and rewarding, it is just as important that you promote them. In terms of promote, that means to mention them to upper staff, bring it up in briefing, etc. Bringing these positive behaviors to light, will not only help the officer’s career, but will give other officers something to strive for.

Columnist Ann Landers once wrote, “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” These 5 leadership lessons are nothing fancy or complicated. Years of research and development have not been done to come up with them. But, to successfully implement these leadership lessons in your daily routine as a supervisor it will take effort, time, dedication, and desire. As a supervisor, it is your job to recognize the opportunity.

Share your thoughts or comments with us below or on our Facebook page. Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

Briefing with Purpose

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” ~ Colin Powell
Success is absolutely about preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. As a leader of people, you have taken on the challenge of doing everything within your power to make your people successful. One of the best places to start doing that with your officers is in the briefing room. In law enforcement, the time that you get to spend with your entire squad together is extremely limited; therefore, it is up to you to make the most of it.

In my department, each patrol shift starts with a 30 minute briefing led by the squad sergeant. This is the only time that the squad has the opportunity to be together in same place at the same time without the next call for service pulling us away. (Most of the time.) There are many purposeful activities that can fill this time, but unfortunately they often just turn into “bull sessions” with no real purpose and become a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place to have unplanned, open discussions in briefing so long as there is a purpose to it and it is not just a default due to a lack of planning on the part of the supervisor.

Prior to being a police officer, I was a math teacher for just shy of 7 years. I was educated on the importance of lesson planning, building themes, identifying “teachable” moments, and organizing curriculum. When you walk into a classroom of 30+ teenagers every day, you quickly come to understand how important organization is to facilitating effective learning. When I promoted to sergeant, these same lessons came flooding back to me and I found ways to modify the concepts to work within the given 30 minute briefing times I had.

As a patrol sergeant, I work four 10 hour shifts a week. I try to stay at least one week ahead with whatever I am planning for briefing training so I have some idea of where I am going and have time to gather resources or create them. With that being said, it is vital to not be overly rigid in the briefing plan because things occasionally come up that may take precedent; such as a major call for service that needs to be discussed that offers some “teachable” moments. Below is an example of the form I used to plan my briefings . . .

lesson

Here was the thinking behind how my weekly planning was organized. DAY 1 was typically reserved for administrative topics. All of the emails, criminal info bulletins, policy updates, and more that needed to be to be shared with the whole squad were saved over the weekend for this day. The last thing I ever wanted was for administrative stuff to take over all of my briefings. I also found that the first day back to work for the week was usually not the best day for conducting briefing training. Once the admin stuff was out of the way, then I would end the briefing by recognizing some of the good work from the week before to start us off positively. This recognition was with the express intent of wanting to see those specific actions, attitudes, or efforts repeated by the squad.

DAY 2 and DAY 3 were reserved for Briefing Training. These could include any number of topics and may involve bringing in a guest speaker from another part of the department, using a short PowerPoint, leading a discussion on our successes/failures from a call, conducting a demonstration, putting together a scenario, watching a police-related video then discussing how it relates to our policies/practices/state laws, etc. There are so many great topics and activities related to our profession that can fit into a 30 minute time period to instigate learning and/or create culture. Ultimately, when planning briefing training, we are not trying to certify officers in anything, just share information so we are all on the same page.

DAY 4 was usually more relaxed. I would lead a discussion called “What did you learn?” in which each member of the squad would talk about one thing they learned or did differently this week on a call and if it was or was not successful. Finally, I would always end the last briefing of the week by recognizing some more of the fine work that had been done by my officers that supported our positive squad culture. There would also be an opportunity for them to recognize each other for things I may not have seen.

At the bottom of the weekly plan was a list of all of my officers. This gave me the ability to know who was or was not in briefing on a given day so either myself or an informal leader on the squad could follow up with them later regarding what we covered. As mentioned above, the power of having briefings with purpose comes from everyone being on the same page. Without this follow-up, you fall short on one of the best parts of having organized briefing plans.

With purpose, there is power. Time with the entire squad together allows a leader to communicate specific messages that puts everyone on the same page. This creates opportunities to share the mission, build squad culture, recognize good work, educate on policy/legal updates, discuss success/failures, and much more. Having these types of purposeful briefings are especially beneficial for newer officers, but also serve the purpose of being a reminder to the more senior officers about what is important.

I challenge you to find the time and make the effort to plan briefings with purpose and see the many positive benefits that come from it.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

10 Tips for New Sergeants

For the last 4 years, I have been a Field Training Sergeant. It is truly a pleasure knowing that I am having an impact on the future of my police department by training these new leaders. I see this responsibility as a vital one. If I do not do a good job, I am not just affecting that new sergeant, but every officer that serves on his or her squad.

Just so we are on the same page, here is how my department handles sergeant training. Sergeant field training is a 5 week process – 2 weeks with one training sergeant, 2 weeks with a different training sergeant, and then one final week back with the first training sergeant. At the end of each shift, the Field Training Sergeant completes a daily observation report (similar to FTO) that summarizes and scores everything the prospective new sergeant did throughout that shift. While writing these daily activity reports, I have noticed that there are certain bits of advice that I seem to be repeatedly writing for every sergeant I help train.

So, here are my 10 tips for new sergeants . . .

  1. Successful sergeants spend 80% of their time working with people and 20% doing everything else. Sergeants that fail to inspire, have a poor squad culture, and breed negative officers focus more on everything else rather than people and building relationships.
  2. Successful sergeants find ways to teach their officers to be adaptive decision-makers; not robots that only understand “if – then” statements. When opportunities present themselves, sergeants explain their process for making difficult decisions and everything they took into account. Then, when their officers face similar situations they are taught to apply their own similar process.
  3. Successful sergeants never waste briefing time. There is always something that could be discussed, debated, trained, or learned in briefing. This is one of the few opportunities when sergeants have their entire squad’s attention at one time; make the most of it.
  4. Successful sergeants understand that policing is a complicated profession. Both sergeants and their officers are going to make mistakes at some point. Do not hide mistakes, share them openly and turn them into learning opportunities focused on improvement. Mistakes are fine, just don’t make the same one twice.
  5. Successful sergeants recognize, reward, and promote good police work by their officers. They use whatever methods are available at their department to make this happen anytime an officer goes above and beyond. Not only does this create a more positive culture, but it also spurs on more officers to look for opportunities to go above and beyond. What a sergeant rewards will be repeated.
  6. Successful sergeants have a vision of the culture they want to have on their squad. Squad culture is defined as the conglomeration of your officers’ actions, attitude, and effort. If you asked another sergeant to describe your squad in 4 words, what words would they use? That is your culture. If you don’t like those words, do something about it.
  7. Successful sergeants do not lead from their desks. They get out on the road with their officers and find ways to serve them throughout each shift. They never believe themselves to be too good for the “grunt” work of being a patrol officer; they get in there and get their hands dirty occasionally.
  8. Successful sergeants recognize that their actions, attitude, and effort tell their officers what is important to them. If a sergeant speaks negatively about their schedule, some situation at the department, or some aspect of the job, then don’t be surprised when the officers have that same opinion or are representing that opinion openly. Negativity breeds negativity.
  9. Successful sergeants know what they do not know, then they find ways to compensate for those areas. If they are not good at tactical situations, they talk to the department’s SWAT officers about various scenarios and how they would handle them. If they are not good at traffic or investigations, they build relationships with motors or detectives that are respected. The most important aspect of this tip is that a sergeant never fakes knowledge and gives bad advice to an officer. This will kill their credibility. If an officer has a question that the sergeant does not know the answer to, the best thing they can do is say, “That is a great question, I don’t know, but I know someone who will. Standby and I’ll call you right back.”
  10. Successful sergeants never allow themselves or their officers to stop learning. The minute a sergeant thinks they know it all is the moment they begin sliding towards mediocrity. A sergeant values training and realizes that the more training they can get for their officers, the better their officers will be on the road.

Got a tip you would give to a new sergeant?

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

TBLL – Leadership Reading List

Culture can be nurtured within a law enforcement organization in a number of different ways. I have been fortunate to have multiple opportunities to positively affect my department’s culture by being involved in the Field Training Officer (FTO) Program, as a trainer of Field Training Officers, as a Sergeant, as a Sergeant Field Trainer, and by assisting in the develop of our department’s leadership-based sergeant selection process. All of these opportunities have enabled me to develop a level influence within the culture of the department that I take very seriously. So, when I was asked by a sergeant test candidate what has influenced my personal leadership style and what resources I have used to develop the material that comes out on Thin Blue Line of Leadership, I decided to provide my recommended leadership reading list.

These books have been vital in the development of Thin Blue Line of Leadership content, my own leadership style, my community interactions, how I operate within my department, and also how I operate with my squad of officers. I can vouch for the value in all of them as there are multiple concepts that I have implemented from each of the books listed below. If you are not a big reader or just do not have the time, all of these books can be purchased and listened to by using the Audible app on both Apple and Android devices. About half of these books I listened to while driving in to work and the rest were read the old fashioned way.

These books were all written from the perspective of the business world; not policing. Therefore, as I read each of them, I continually asked myself “How does this apply to policing?” and “How do I incorporate these ideas into my squad/department?” Then I molded the ideas I liked into my leadership style, community interactions, department interactions, and/or squad expectations. For two of these books I have written a law enforcement synopsis and those are linked in the book titles. I have also linked each book’s picture to Amazon in case you are inspired to buy any of the books mentioned.

In case you are wondering, I do not work for Amazon or any of these publishing companies. I simply want to share some good leadership knowledge with you. Enjoy . . .

Start with Why     Leaders Eat Last     Entreleadership

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey

First fast fearless      Energy bus     Training Camp

First, Fast, Fearless by Brian Hiner (Ret. Navy Seal Lieutenant Commander)

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Training Camp by Jon Gordon

Hard Hat     Soup     You Win

The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon

Soup by Jon Gordon

You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon

Turn Around     Failing-Forward     Miserable

Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

Five Dysfunctions     The ideal Team player     Good to GReat

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Currently I am reading “Building Shooters: Applying Neuroscience Research to Tactical Training System Design and Training Delivery” by Dustin P. Salomon and believe that it will soon be at the top of this list. I truly hope you get as much out of each of these books as I did. Please let me know if you have any reading suggestions for me and I’ll check them out.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

3 Signs of a Miserable Law Enforcement Job

“High school kids at In-N-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A are doing largely the same job that kids at any other fast-food restaurant are doing, and yet there are a lot fewer miserable jobs at In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A. The difference is not the job itself. It is the management. And one of the most important things that managers must do is help employees see why their work matters to someone. Even if this sounds touchy-feely to some, it is a fundamental part of human nature.”     – Patrick Lencioni

3signs

The premise of the book “3 Signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni is simply this – staying in a miserable job can have severely negative consequences on a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. These consequences can affect a person’s life both personally and professionally and it does not have to be that way. The good news is that, as supervisors, we have the ability to combat the 3 signs of a miserable job and it really is not that complicated.

Here are the 3 signs of a miserable job . . .

  1. ANONYMITY

“People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. . . . People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.”

  1. IRRELEVANCE

“Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss.”

  1. IMMEASUREABILITY

“Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves. They cannot be fulfilled in their work if their success depends on the opinions or whims of another person, no matter how benevolent that person may be. Without a tangible means for assessing success or failure, motivation eventually deteriorates as people see themselves as unable to control their own fate.”

In relation to law enforcement, if an officer is miserable in their job due to the factors of anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability, then what is the cost to them personally, their squad, their department, and the community they are supposed to be serving? Personally, they carry their misery home which adversely affects their family life. They become the salty grump in the back of the briefing room that complains about everything and sucks the energy out of all around them. To the department they are a liability because of the negative impact on the culture and the unpredictability of their actions on the road. The community suffers because the miserable officer represents the worst of the police department which erodes public trust and makes the job that much more difficult for the officers that are not miserable. How many officers are you picturing in your head right now that match this description of a miserable officer?

Here are 25 ways law enforcement supervisors can combat anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability . . .

ANONYMITY

  1. Create a team atmosphere within the squad where it is believed that we is greater than I.
  2. When you get a new officer, meet with them individually and get them on board with the squad culture from day one.
  3. Recognize good police work in briefing. What you reward will be repeated.
  4. Have officers debrief good calls for service and share their expertise and successes with others.
  5. Get out of the office and on the road with your officers. Try to get on a call for service or backup each of your officers during each shift, if time allows.
  6. Rotating having officers conduct briefing training based upon their policing strengths and interests.
  7. Meet with officers regularly to discuss their career goals and seek out opportunities to help them fulfill those goals.
  8. Get to know your officers’ families. Create opportunities for them to all get together with the other families of the squad.
  9. Send handwritten thank you notes to your officers’ spouses or significant others to let them know that you appreciate the commitment that the families make to law enforcement, too.

IRRELEVANCE

  1. Making policing relevant is about getting back to the “why.” Know why you chose to become a police officer. Know why you chose to be a supervisor. Share your why with your officers. Get to know their why, find opportunities to relate their why to calls for service, and discuss the relationship in briefing.
  2. As a supervisor, you set the tone and create value in community service. If it is important to you, it will be important to them.
  3. Promote public commendations in briefing by reading them aloud for all your officers to hear.
  4. Teach your officers to be good beat cops and take pride in their assigned part of the city.
  5. Get away from the term customer service and focus on community service. The term customer service cheapen what we do as police officers and builds irrelevance.
  6. Have discussions in briefing regarding who your officers serve. Point out that they serve not only the community, but they also serve each other. Discuss that you, the supervisor, are there to serve them.
  7. Teach your squad to have a focus on finding solutions while on calls for serve; not on producing statistics, being a band aid, or handling them as quickly as possible.
  8. Exemplify and promote a culture of positivity on your squad through your actions, attitude, and effort.
  9. Provide good feedback and evaluations to your officers. In return, ask for them to do the same for you.

IMMEASUREABILITY

Of the 3 signs of a miserable job, immeasureability is the most difficult for law enforcement supervisors to deal with directly. There is no limit to the number of statistics that can be measured for each officer: calls for service responded to, self-initiated activities, arrests made, tickets written, response times, amount of time spent on each call, number of community policing activities, etc. The question becomes, are we measuring the right things?

  1. Clearly define what the “rock star” police officer would do on a “perfect” shift based upon the mission, vision, and operational goals of the department.
  2. Determine what statistics officers and/or the department have the ability to capture that correspond to the “perfect” shift. If part of the “perfect” shift includes community policing and/or positive interactions with the community, then a way to count those interactions must be determined, as well.
  3. Set specific goals based upon what the “perfect” shift would look like that clearly define what success looks like for officers and provide them with a way to track those numbers.
  4. Ultimately, whatever is chosen to be measured must be supported by the officers’ direct supervisors because the direct supervisors will give the statistics being measure their value.
  5. Supervisors must assist officers in seeing the positive perspective to their seemingly negative activities like making arrests or writing tickets.
  6. The question to be answered is how do you measure community policing activity effectiveness? Do you count the number of positive citizen commendations, the number of people that say “thank you” after being arrested/written a ticket, or the amount of time dedicated to solving beat problems? This is where the difficulty in the measurability of policing comes into play and must be answered by departments everywhere.

There are many more ways to combat anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability in policing. If these 3 signs of a miserable job are not addressed by law enforcement supervisors, then they will have to deal with the miserable officers they are allowing to be created.

“If you’re still not convinced that this makes sense or that it applied to you, this would be a good time to consider resigning your position as a manager and finding a role as an individual contributor.”  – Patrick Lencioni

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!