The Dynamic Leadership Rule of Discipline fits very well within a progressive discipline model. Discerning where the offender is on the downward Path of Destruction described in the Dynamic of Restoration is the key factor in determining their character. There are five steps in the Path of Destruction: Independent Spirit, Wounded Spirit, Bitter Spirit, Rebellious Spirit, and Unrestorable Spirit. Interestingly, these five steps fit very nicely into a progressive discipline model that includes Counselling, Reprimand, Suspension, Demotion, and Termination.

There are specific steps in the downward Path of Destruction that a person will typically experience once he steps out from under authority. To gain a full understanding of the Rule of Discipline and the reasons behind ethical failures, it is essential to understand this process.

Path of Destruction

Path of Destruction

We start with the Faithful Spirit – protected from harmful and evil influences and acting in harmony with the principles of his authority. He takes the first steps out from under this protection by displaying an Independent Spirit. His life now becomes characterized by personal conflicts, particularly as his authorities attempt to reel him back into compliance. The conflicts often result from one or more of the three root character flaws at work in his life – anger, lust, and greed.

How this officer responds to these personal conflicts will, to a large degree, determine if he is restored into a proper relationship or if he continues further down the Path of Destruction. Left unchecked, he is headed to an ethical failure.

The next step in the process is the Wounded Spirit. This person blames other people or circumstances beyond his control rather than taking personal responsibility for the conflicts in his life. He fails to recognize that it is his own lack of character that is producing the conflicts and ethical crises in his life.

If you go around blaming other people for all your problems, it won’t be long before a Wounded Spirit will turn into a Bitter Spirit. A Bitter Spirit is just mad. He’s mad at all of the people that he blames for his problems.

The Dangers of Bitterness

Let me pause here to speak more about bitterness. Bitterness will destroy you. Bitterness is like a cancer that eats away at your heart and destroys relationships. The only difference between bitterness and a real cancer is that bitterness is contagious – it infects other people.

That’s why it is said, “Do not let a root of bitterness grow up among you to defile many.”

If left unresolved, bitterness often turns to rebellion. A Rebellious Spirit is no longer content to get mad, he wants to get even. And he will deliberately seek to undermine the authority of those that are over him, especially if he perceives them to be the source of his problems.

The final stage on the Path of Destruction is the Unrestorable Spirit. This is the person who refuses to be restored. He enjoys being a renegade and has no interest in being under authority. His life is characterized by the destruction and death of relationships.

Interestingly, when you superimpose a progressive discipline model to this diagram, you find that the five most common disciplinary options fit rather nicely. If someone is an Independent Spirit, perhaps all they need is counselling to be restored into a proper relationship with their authorities. If they are a Wounded Spirit, more serious discipline is called for. Perhaps a written reprimand is more appropriate. A Bitter Spirit may need suspension. A Rebellious Spirit may need to be demoted in a last ditch effort to salvage them. And an Unrestorable Spirit should be terminated if that option is available to you.

The good news is that, despite what you might think, there aren’t that many Unrestorable Spririts out there. But if you genuinely have one, AND your policy allows termination as a viable disciplinary option, I suggest you fire them. Otherwise they will continue to be a destructive influence within the organization.

Let me be clear about this, however. If you are unable to determine where a person falls on the chart, I STRONGLY encourage you to give them the benefit of the doubt. The tie should always go to the runner.

Sheriff Ray

About the Author

2 Responses to Progressive Discipline

  1. Naveed Butt says:


    Interestingly, I have been having a discussion on this matter with my boss! I think your concept is most equitable in sense that it ensures progressive discipline with a sort of check list agency wide! It gets everyone on the same sheet of music!

    While we have, in theory, the idea progressive discipline in our agency, it is often held hostage to individual interpretation and biases. In the end, this type of imbalance brings unintended or undesired results for the employee and the agency!

    Be safe in India, when ordering food be sure to remind them to tone down the spices!! Or load up on sweet mango lasi!! LOL!


  2. Sheriff Ray says:

    You’re absolutely right, Naveed. This is the only model that I have seen that incorporates the character of the individual into the equation. We used it with great success at the Sheriff’s Office. If I am able to get it done before I leave for India, this week’s post will feature a real-life example of this principle in action…

    Sheriff Ray

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

“A few years ago, we brought the Police Dynamics program to the Cincinnati Police Division and were most impressed with the quality of the training and richness of the program.”
Mike Daly
Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

"I have attended training conducted by the Police Dynamics Institute in the past and know Ray Nash both personally and professionally. They have my whole-hearted endorsement…"
Sheriff Larry Williams
Orangeburg, SC

"I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this website. I was introduced to your video on the Dynamics of Authority through my father who is a police chaplain for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies here in Las Cruces. I have taught and applied the Dynamics model to my students when I was a teacher, and now to my department as a fire fighter."
Nathan Carr
Las Cruces Fire Dept.

“One of the greatest seminars I have ever attended in the 33 years I’ve been a Deputy.”
Walter Bolinger
Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

"I was so impressed by the (Police Dynamics) program that I purchased your video tape series. All Grand County Sheriff’s Employees subsequently viewed the tapes, and I have also mandated that all new Sheriff’s Employees watch it as well."
Glen Trainor
Grand County Sheriff’s Office

"It is with much enthusiasm that I encourage senior law enforcement executives to make attending the Police Dynamics seminar a key training priority for your agency."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK
former 2nd VP - National Sheriff's Association

"I am convinced of the benefits of the Police Dynamics program."
Jerry Martin
Delores County, CO
former Pres - County Sheriff's of Colorado

"Honestly, I’ve not been more impressed with a police training that I’ve attended in the last 20 years..."
Tom McClain
Chief of Police
Willard, MO

"I am a firm believer that Police Dynamics and Character First! equip the men and women that work for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office to do their job and do it better."
John Whetsel
Oklahoma County, OK

"If you believe that good character is an essential element in policing, you will want to send your key staff to Police Dynamics."
David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"This course was one of the best training sessions that I’ve been through. This concept will benefit me and the staff in my division."
Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

"[The Police Dynamics training] brings us closer together, more like a family … it reminds us of why we’re out there and what it’s about.”
Captain John Decker
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

"This class gave me the vocabulary that I have been looking for to praise and motivate my employees."
Police Dynamics participant

"We’ve built a much better relationship with each other. We’ve seen a decrease in complaints. We’ve become a family instead of a place to work."
Sheriff Howie Godwin
Highlands County, FL

“This shows us a new approach to recognize employees’ character traits - and to acknowledge them for those good traits versus, 'You did an excellent job…' It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"The Police Dynamics training that Ray Nash brought teaches the things that are at the core of being a good police officer – being trustworthy, being of good character…"
Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

“In the Police Dynamics training seminar, the officers are able to set a standard in their own lives of the kind of character they want to see in their community."
Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

"Character is the solution to the real problem in our community of crime. Character supplies the answer."
Hon. F.A. Schad
Former Judge
Burleson, TX

“I want you to know that my international and national career was very much influenced by your lessons and knowing you was of paramount importance for my job and career. Many Romanian police officers are grateful to you and to Character training."
Teofil Parasca
Assistant Superintendent
Arad County Police

"I would like to work more toward management by principles instead of rules – with an emphasis on character and guiding principles."
Chief Lynn Williams
Chickasha, OK

“We need to return to our basic character traits that made this country great. Ray Nash has the program to do it."
Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"We continue to benefit from your teaching and hire with a strong emphasis on character."
Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Grand County, CO

"Sheriff Ray Nash is an internationally recognized speaker that you and your staff will learn powerful principles from, while enjoying the lesson."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK

"Very comprehensive, a great resource manual for the future. The seminar was dynamic in every way. What a great resource for people throughout their day-to-day routines.”
Doug Carter
Indiana State Police