After my unsuccessful run for Congress, I finally got around to recording a new Police Dynamics training video. I based this one on a post by Dan Weigold on his blog Coach With Heart. I’ve been following Coach Weigold’s blog for a few years and we have sometimes “chatted” about principles of ethical leadership. And his recent post on Authentic Leadership is so consistent with the principles of Police Dynamics and the SHIELD Program teachings on Reflective Leadership that I asked him for permission to use it in this training session.
Coach Weigold identifies six components of authentic leadership (the components are his and the commentary mine)…
1. Compelling vision (does it inspire others, creating meaning)
The ability to impart vision is a key leadership skill that is often overlooked. A carefully crafted vision and mission statement, founded on the core values of an organization, are essential for inspiring others and setting expectations. For those of you interested in building a culture of character within your agency, I suggest you take this vision-crafting process one step further by identifying 10 essential character qualities that you consider absolutely critical for success and include them in your policy or standards manual.
2. Employee input and participation (leaders need to listen)
I once asked my Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes, if we should get some input from our deputies before we initiated a particular operation. His response was, “Only if you want to know what’s really going on…!” Many leaders lose the ability to actively listen, or never developed it to start with. That’s why Dr. George Thompson, founder of Verbal Judo, was fond of saying that the opposite of talking is NOT “listening.” The opposite of talking is “waiting to interrupt…”
3. A trusting environment (vulnerable, authentic, genuine, transparent)
My faithful viewers have often heard me say that trust is the fuel that drives coactive relationships forward. This is fundamentally true with internal relationships as well as external ones. Trust flows from a foundation of integrity, which itself is a factor of both character and competence working in tandem. General Norman Schwarzkopf said, “Leadership is a potent combination of character and strategy. But if you have to be without one, be without the strategy…”
4. Ensure the values and standards are consistently applied and are known by everyone
I cannot overemphasize the importance of being the standard bearer within your organization. A leader bears the standard of excellence. Failure to clearly articulate, model, embrace, and enforce standards are all leadership failures.
5. People are held accountable for results (someone checks on the results)
Another quote from my Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes, that I have found to be true over and over again: “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” He often reminded me that failure to discipline is another leadership failure. Find an older dictionary and look up the word discipline. Fundamentally it means training that molds, corrects, strengthens, and perfects moral character.
6. An environment of excellence
If you think about it, this is really the essence of leadership. It’s the ability to motivate others to higher and higher standards of excellence. Don’t confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence is the process and motivation to do something really well. Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
After asking Coach Weigold for permission to use portions of his post on authentic leadership, he asked me a very compelling question. He said, “What is the biggest ‘awareness’ challenge you face in training new police candidates?”
After giving it some thought, I responded that it was being aware of what we represent. Because we represent something much bigger than us–the law, the Constitution, the agency, the ideals of the police profession, and ultimately the people that we are sworn to serve. This is a profound shift in thinking that obliterates the ego in the process. And an officer’s ego is typically what gets him in trouble. Believing that you are representing yourself (your goals, agenda, ego…) is the first step towards a major ethical failure. This applies to leaders, too. Because when we lose sight of who and what we represent, it’s our own egos that get us in trouble as well. So I might add a 7th element to Coach Weigold’s list: