Who are you as a leader? How do you know if the decisions you are making are meeting your personal expectations? Do you take the time to weigh your actions, attitudes, and effort against a personal mission and set of core values? Have you taken the time to define your own mission and core values? How do you know if you are staying on path?
The other day, I was instructing a class on Leadership Accountability to a group of 20 officers, sergeants, and civilian staff that are currently in my department’s leadership development program. On the whiteboard, I put up the following quote to generate discussion…
We began discussing the importance of a leader controlling their actions, attitude, and effort when looking for solutions to challenging leadership dilemmas. Then one of the officers asked the following question, “I get that the leader must adjust their sails to control what they can control, but how do they know the direction to adjust them? What is the ‘right’ thing to do?” This was a phenomenal question for an officer that is just beginning to explore their own leadership potential.
The discussion continued among the group and the consensus was that a leader has to know, believe, and exemplify their personal mission and core values when choosing their direction. That was when another student asked me, “Sarge, do you have a mission and core values?” Due to my personal interest in leadership and the passion that keeps Thin Blue Line of Leadership going, I have spent more time than most thinking through and articulating answers to questions just like this. I looked at the group and stated, “I do and that is exactly how I know when I’m staying on P-A-T-H.”
I first addressed my personal mission – “Wherever I go and whatever I do, my mission is to leave it better than I found it.” It is from this personal mission statement that I developed my set of four core values. This mission and these core values lead every decision I make in my effort to leave whatever I am a part of better than I found it. To put it simply, it is my P-A-T-H.
P-A-T-H is an acronym for Positivity, Activity, Teamability, and Humility. I approach everything with this set of core values and that is exactly how I know how to control my actions, attitude, and effort. Not just when things are going good, but also went they aren’t. Here is how I explained my P-A-T-H to the group.
Positivity is NOT about walking around with a shit-eating grin on my face saying everything is wonderful, even when it isn’t. It is about having appreciation and gratitude for the good things in my life no matter how large or small they may be. Positivity is about having a “get to” attitude, not a “have to” one. I get to go to work, I get to spend time with my family, I get to do a lot of things that I appreciate more when I don’t consider them as things I have to do. It is about seeing the difficult things in life as challenges and not threats. Finally, positivity is about being solution-oriented and controlling the things I can control, my actions, attitude, and effort, in order to solve those challenges before me.
Activity is about doing the things I place value in and committing the necessary amount of effort to being successful in those activities. If the activity I am about to do will make my family, career, personal health, work environment, or marriage better than I found it that day, then I know I am doing an activity that has value. This is what leads me in understanding where to spend my time since the one things we all have equally is 24 hours in a day. While we all have the same amount of time in a day, we do not have the same amount overall in our lives; so activity is one of my core values so I remember to commit my time to those things that matter to me.
Teamability is about looking at the groups I am a part of, such as my family, my friends, and my work group, and thinking of each of them as a team I am a member of. As a team, we value our strengths, help to overcome weaknesses, and make sure everyone’s voice is included in decision-making that affects the team. Teamability is about being inclusive and by being an inclusive team we build influence with one another. That influence is built by spending time together, communicating openly and honestly, and then building connections with each other. Once those three things are occurring throughout the team, the bi-product is shared contribution to the team as a whole. Teamability, put simply, is about putting we before me.
Humility is about having a growth mindset and keeping my pride and ego in check. I’ll be honest, of these 4 core values this is the one I struggle with the most which is exactly why I included it as a core value. My worst decisions ever made in my personal life and in my law enforcement career have come when I let my pride and/or ego dictate my direction. Humility focuses me on consistently recognizing that I always have room for improvement as a husband, father, brother, son, friend, instructor, sergeant, leader, and person. Humility is about asking the right questions – What can I do? How can I make this better? What can I learn here? How can I share this lesson with others? As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
That is my personal mission and core values. They are how I know the exact direction to adjust my sails. I’ll end this blog with the same questions I started it with and challenge you to spend the time answering them…
- Who are you as a leader?
- How do you know if the decisions you are making are meeting your personal expectations?
- Do you take the time to weigh your actions, attitudes, and effort against a personal mission and set of core values?
- Have you taken the time to define your own mission and core values?
- How do you know if you are staying on path?
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!