Understanding Leadership

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Going from Good to Great, Part II

My post last month came from an outstanding book that I read titled, "Good to Great", by Jim Collins. What I truly enjoyed the most from the book was how Jim's research revealed some particular attributes of companies that went from ho-hum status to rock star status and stayed there. As you may recall from last month's post, of course a piece of the puzzle was the leadership. Jim described the leaders of the good to great companies as "Level-5 Leaders". What are level-5 leaders? Well, for one, they possess HUMILITY. For those of you that have attended GSPCC's leadership class, you know how important this characteristic can be. The second component of a level-5 leader is his/her relentless drive to accomplish goals.
Now, to give even more credit to Jim Collins, he and his research team felt that given their level of questions from people who work in industries other than business, they put together a follow up monograph just for what he calls the "Social Sectors", which are governments, non-profits, and basically any industry where the final product is a service without a profit.
After reading the monograph, I have some good news. The principals are basically the same. With respects to leadership, social sectors, especially police departments, need level-5 leaders. The original book and the monograph discuss another component known as the "Hedgehog Concept". I will let you read that from each book, as it would take much longer to explain here. For now, I want to focus on the idea of what a police department should be focusing on in order to be effective.
When it comes to a for-profit business, the measure of success is profit (there are other factors, but profit is the biggest measure of health). The more profit there is, the better the health of the company. How do we measure the health, or efficacy, of a police department, given there are no profits? Do we use arrests? Reports? Car stops? Pay???
Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton shook the status quo efficacy measure and flipped it around. Prior to Bratton, the typical measure of efficacy was......wait for it......you know where I'm going here......INTERNAL NUMBERS! How many arrests, stops, solved crimes, reports taken, calls for service, budgets met, etc, etc, etc. Bratton felt that the only measure to focus on were not the "input" variables (listed above), but the "output" variables, such as decreases in crime and traffic accidents, public opinion, and so on. These variables are often overlooked. This idea goes back to my previous article regarding supervisors that rely heavily on officer statistics for evaluation purposes. What supervisors should be doing is looking at the overall effect of input variables, which are outputs. Basically, is what we are doing having an effect? If the answer is no, then maybe a new approach is needed.
As you can tell, I am a fan of both the Good to Great book, as well as the follow-up monograph. I highly recommend that you read them both, especially if you are an executive level officer at your agency. I wish I had read it while I was still in law enforcement.
Tim

Thursday, February 1, 2018

From GOOD to GREAT

My post this month involves a friend of mine. I attended the 110th New Hampshire Police Academy in 1996. Also in attendance was a guy by the name of James Sartell (Jay). Jay was not in my platoon, so we did not interact that often. When we did, I always liked him and felt he was a very bright and gregarious guy.

Now, fast forward 20+ years. I had the privilege of meeting with Jay in Townsend, MA a few weeks ago. Jay had recently retired as the Chief of Police of the Hollis, NH Police Department. Jay had an outstanding career and had many personal and professional achievements. It was nice to talk with him and catch up. But this is not the point of this article. While talking, we discussed some our most influential books (Nerd alert). I told him how Jocko Willink & Leif Babin’s “Extreme Ownership” was one of my top five. Jay told me about a book that he highly recommended I read, especially as a business owner. The book he recommended was called, “Good to Great”, by Jim Collins. I took his advice and immediately bought the book.

Good to Great hooked me immediately. The book is a study of companies that went from “good”, or average, and greatly exceeded the world of average. To quickly define the good to great companies, each displayed tremendous positive growtn with respects to revenue produced and how the companies would exceed the yearly stock market average index. But the kicker was that the companies sustained this level of greatness for years and years.

When the research team analyzed data on the good to great companies, they originally left leadership out of the matrix. But Collins’s research team came back to him with overwhelming data that showed there was not only a correlation with the leadership, but what appeared to be a causation. Well, you had me at leadership!

Collins took it a step further and analyzed the leadership present during the good to great transitions. As Collins’s research team looked at many pieces of data, some specific traits of the company leaders began to emerge. As a person that researches and teaches leadership, what was revealed was not surprising to me at all. Collins dubbed these leaders as, LEVEL 5 LEADERS. What was a bit surprising was that the good to great leaders had only two very distinctive characteristics in common:

1.     Humility
2.     Unwavering Resolve – an unquenchable and relentless desire for the entire company to be successful

Let’s break this down shall we? Humility. No one wants to work for a conceded boss – at least I do not. I once had a captain (many years ago) that would only talk about himself and his accomplishments. He did some great things, but he would never discuss the life and achievements of the person he was talking to. It got old very quickly.

Some supervisors will confuse confidence with arrogance. They are the types that feel they need to always talk in any situation, especially meetings or professional settings. These supervisors often miss out on good information because they engage their mouths more than their ears. But the humble supervisor does not wish to “peacock” or constantly talk about their achievements. The humble supervisor lets their achievements, work ethic and work quality speak for itself. As Collins put it, it is the difference between a “show horse” and a “work horse”.

It is absolutely possible to be confident and not arrogant. It is okay to admit when you are wrong to your team. It is okay to apologize to your team. It is even okay to admit areas of weakness to your team. It is okay to ask for help. I ask my leadership students, does your team expect you to be Superman or human? When I think back to some of the great leaders I worked with, humility with confidence was always a defining factor.

The second element of the good to great leaders was their relentless passion to achieve their objectives. Collins stated, “Level 5 Leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce results”. We have many names for this characteristic – passion, drive, determination, spirit, etc. This makes perfect sense. Good to great leaders are able to keep their eye on the prize and develop systematic steps to get there. But what separates them from other leaders is their drive to reach that prize. Anyone can develop a strategic plan, but true leaders keep the team focused and push until the prize is achieved. In Robert Sutton’s book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, He calls this characteristic “grit”, and he lists it as one of the top five characteristics of good bosses.

Another interesting characteristic he discovered was that roughly 90% of the good to great leaders were developed or promoted from within the company. This element made me think about leaders within a police or corrections organization. It seems that sometimes, a town or city council will want to “shake things up” and seek a replacement Chief from outside the agency. I realize that sometimes there is no other option. An agency may have a young and inexperienced staff and no one is truly ready to step into driver’s seat. But given this data from Collins, I would caution town or city administrators to look inward at the people within the agency and first seek the “diamond in the rough” before looking outside the agency.

As you can imagine, I highly recommend this book. Thank you, Jay, for recommending it. Its usefulness can be seen in pretty much any industry, public or private. A link to purchase the book via Amazon can be found below.



Tim



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are we TRULY Using Our Evaluations Effectively?

As a person who has spent the last couple of years teaching and discussing the foundations of good leadership, said discussions inevitably turn to department evaluations. I hear from some officers who say that their departments have evaluations but often forget to evaluate their personnel; thus, leading to a feeling that if the department cannot remember to complete them, then they must not be very important. I also hear from agencies that have robust evaluation systems in place, with monthly or quarterly evaluations that involve good discussions between supervisors and subordinates. And I hear about evaluation systems that fall somewhere in between.
One of the most frequent complaints that I hear regarding evaluations is the heavy reliance on statistics. What do I mean when I say statistics? It is the low hanging fruit that so many departments turn to in order to create a measure of efficacy. Why do I consider statistics low hanging fruit? Well, let's face it, pulling up "numbers" from an agency's RMS is relatively easy these days. We can pull up car stops, tickets issued, arrest numbers, and the list goes on. While I can see some uses for statistics, I personally feel that a supervisor, and their agency for that matter, is being a bit lazy when they rely heavily on numbers for officer evaluations.
Here is my argument - let's say I have an officer that LOVES doing motor vehicle work. The officer may stop 20 cars per shift. We all know this person. The people who stop many cars are generally active officers. They may be doing some drug interdiction as well. When one stops 20 cars per shift, one is bound to get arrests, such as operating after suspensions, DWI's, open containers, etc. This officer, statistically speaking, is a rockstar. The numbers play well with the active motor vehicle officer.
But what about the officer that stops 5-8 cars per shift but also patrols the neighborhoods, stops to talk with citizens, checks on businesses after they have closed? Statistically, there is nothing there to measure, but this officer is performing a very important police function. Here is another example: say an officer takes a theft report. The officer looks into the case and after a few weeks develops a suspect. The officer then asks the subject to come in for an interview and the suspect ultimately confesses. Statistically, a supervisor will see a case number and an arrest. But what the supervisor should be paying attention to is the good police work that went into solving the case. This part, the actually paying attention to work quality and effort, requires work on the supervisor's part. Simply pulling up stats would not show the officer's effectiveness.
So, what is the take away here? If your agency is heavily reliant on stats to show officer efficacy, then in order to stay in the good graces of the supervisors, the officers may look to put up numbers and nothing else. Good leaders will look at the big picture and note ALL of the work the officers are doing, not simply the numbers that can be spit out of an RMS.
I found an article regarding police evaluations that was published in the '70's. As I read it, I noticed that not much has changed over the last four decades. Here is the link if you would like to read it: http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/alt.html
If you are considering a remake of your evaluation system, let me give you some practical advice. First, ask the people that are getting evaluated what they would like to see in an evaluation system. Don't be afraid to ask your patrol officers. They are the ones with boots on the ground. They may very well have some good suggestions. Second, your evaluations should be more about the future than the past. A very good friend of mine, and good leader as well, uses the 25/75 rule. He feels that his evaluations on his personnel should be 25% about the past and 75% about the future. What do I mean about the future? I'm talking about setting goals and steps to achieve them.
When you think about it, a good leader will deal with problems and mistakes as they happen (DON'T EVER WAIT UNTIL EVAL TIME TO HIGHLIGHT MISTAKES). Therefore, there is no need to rehash mistakes that have been corrected. Why not use the evaluation as a platform for a leader and an officer to discuss where the officer wants to go, what s/he wants to be, etc. Why not use it as a platform for the leader to help the officer lay down some ground work for their ultimate goals? For example, if the patrolman says that s/he wants to be a sergeant, then the leader can recommend books to read or consider delegating tasks designed to enhance and develop the officer's skill set. In this manner, they will become better developed officers so that when they decide to go for a sergeant position, they are better equipped and more confident.
If you get anything out of my rantings here, I ask that you take a look at your evaluation system and ensure that they are painting a true picture of an officer's efficacy and not just funneling him/her into a numbers game. Remember, good and effective evaluations require work, but the pay off can be phenomenal.
Tim Jones

True Leadership Begins When You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone


Recently, Josh and I decided to add some important material to our first-line supervisor leadership class. While reviewing some material on leading up the chain of command, Josh disagreed with the tone of some of my slides. I saw his point, but I wanted to shake things up a bit and get people on their heels in thought. Basically, I wanted to get them out of their comfort zone. Well, this led Josh to look into the concept of comfort zones and leadership. What he dug up in his research is the topic of this month's leadership article - COMFORT ZONES are nice and cozy, but they kill many important characteristics that make someone a good leader.
We all like feeling comfortable. Whether it's our home life, our recreational life or even our work life. When one works hard to know their job and develop professional relationships, one also enjoys sitting back and living in the comfortable and competent world he/she has created. One of the most difficult times for a supervisor is when he/she is first promoted. Talk about being outside a comfort zone! There are so many challenges and new ideas to process and implement, it can be overwhelming at times. But, the supervisor learns the job, learns the team, learns how to work with his/her supervisor and ultimately becomes "comfortable" with the position.
The supervisor is so engaged with learning the new position and how their leadership style works within it, they often fail to notice how the learning process is what has made them better. It was the discomfort that developed them. Because of their blindness to "how" they have become who they are, and with their focus on "what" they have become, he/she may decide to live in the comfort zone, or the "I made it" zone. The comfort zone is nice, but as I said earlier, it is not where development takes place.
To quote Tony Robbins, "if you are not growing, you are dying". I can attest that this statement is true. As humans, it is our nature to better ourselves. Whether it is through pushing our bodies or our minds, We only become better when we push ourselves to new and better levels.
Josh sent me an article regarding leadership and the comfort zone. The author, George Ambler, discusses the three zones of leadership. In the illustration at the top of this article, one can see the three zones illustrated as a bullseye. The center is the comfort zone. This is a cozy place where we can handle what we know. But when one is confronted with a task or situation that one does not know, he/she is then pushed into the "learning zone". Many find this area to be uncomfortable. One is forced to learn something new. When I was a drum instructor, I would make my students do much, much more with their non-dominant hand. Talk about being out of a comfort zone. It was always awkward at first, but the benefits, in the end, were immense.
When Josh and I teach leadership, we tell our students that they need to constantly learn. Whether it's leadership techniques, technology, or the names of their subordinates' children, a quest for knowledge should never cease. This is living in the learning zone. I feel that we should all make the learning zone our comfort zone.
Ambler further talks about going beyond the learning zone and slipping into the "danger zone" (I dare you to not say danger zone without thinking of Top Gun!). This is the zone where the leader takes on too much. For example, an eager sergeant who truly wants to learn may volunteer to take on too many peripheral responsibilities or assignments. Although his/her intentions were good, the eager sergeant may soon learn that he/she cannot adequately run their shift and complete the tasks he/she volunteered to do. The end result is undue stress and the possibility of not learning the tasks as adequately as he/she planned.
So what is the end game here? Whether it is leadership, sports, a musical instrument, a new language, etc, you MUST go beyond what you already know (comfort zone) and embrace the occasional uncomfortableness of learning. One must be cautious and not take on too much for the sake of learning. If too much stress kicks in and one becomes more focused on the stress than the task itself, then adequate learning is not happening.
Article by George Ambler
Tim Jones, GSPCC

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Case for NOT Doing it by the Numbers

As a person who has spent the last couple of years teaching and discussing the foundations of good leadership, said discussions inevitably turn to department evaluations. I hear from some officers who say that their departments have evaluations but often forget to evaluate their personnel; thus, leading to a feeling that if the department cannot remember to complete them, then they must not be very important. I also hear from agencies that have robust evaluation systems in place, with monthly or quarterly evaluations that involve good discussions between supervisors and subordinates. And I hear about evaluation systems that fall somewhere in between.
One of the most frequent complaints that I hear regarding evaluations is the heavy reliance on statistics. What do I mean when I say statistics? It is the low hanging fruit that so many departments turn to in order to create a measure of efficacy. Why do I consider statistics low hanging fruit? Well, let's face it, pulling up "numbers" from an agency's RMS is relatively easy these days. We can pull up car stops, tickets issued, arrest numbers, and the list goes on. While I can see some uses for statistics, I personally feel that a supervisor, and their agency for that matter, is being a bit lazy when they rely heavily on numbers.
Here is my argument - let's say I have an officer that LOVES doing motor vehicle work. The officer may stop 20 cars per shift. We all know this person. The people who stop many cars are generally active officers. They may be doing some drug interdiction as well. When one stops 20 cars per shift, one is bound to get arrests, such as operating after suspensions, DWI's, open containers, etc. This officer, statistically speaking, is a rockstar. The numbers play well with the active motor vehicle officer.
But what about the officer that stops 5-8 cars per shift but also patrols the neighborhoods, stops to talk with citizens, checks on businesses after they have closed? Statistically, there is nothing there to measure, but this officer is performing a very important police function. Here is another example: say an officer takes a theft report. The officer looks into the case and after a few weeks develops a suspect. The officer then asks the subject to come in for an interview and the suspect ultimately confesses. Statistically, a supervisor will see a case number and an arrest. But what the supervisor should be paying attention to is the good police work that went into solving the case. This part, the actually paying attention to work quality and effort, requires work on the supervisor's part. Simply pulling up stats would not show the officer's effectiveness.
So, what is the take away here? If your agency is heavily reliant on stats to show officer efficacy, then in order to stay in the good graces of the supervisors, the officers may look to put up numbers and nothing else. Good leaders will look at the big picture and note ALL of the work the officers are doing, not simply the numbers that can be spit out of an RMS.
I found an article regarding police evaluations that was published in the '70's. As I read it, I noticed that not much has changed over the last four decades. Here is the link if you would like to read it: http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/alt.html
If you are considering a remake of your evaluation system, let me give you some practical advice. First, ask the people that are getting evaluated what they would like to see in an evaluation system. Don't be afraid to ask your patrol officers. They are the ones with boots on the ground. They may very well have some good suggestions. Second, your evaluations should be more about the future than the past. A very good friend of mine, and good leader as well, uses the 25/75 rule. He feels that his evaluations on his personnel should be 25% about the past and 75% about the future. What do I mean about the future? I'm talking about setting goals and steps to achieve them.
When you think about it, a good leader will deal with problems and mistakes as they happen (DON'T EVER WAIT UNTIL EVAL TIME TO HIGHLIGHT MISTAKES). Therefore, there is no need to rehash mistakes that have been corrected. Why not use the evaluation as a platform for a leader and an officer to discuss where the officer wants to go, what s/he wants to be, etc. Why not use it as a platform for the leader to help the officer lay down some ground work for their ultimate goals? For example, if the patrolman says that s/he wants to be a sergeant, then the leader can recommend books to read or consider delegating tasks designed to enhance and develop the officer's skill set. In this manner, they will become better developed officers so that when they decide to go for a sergeant position, they are better equipped and more confident.
If you get anything out of my rantings here, I ask that you take a look at your evaluation system and ensure that they are painting a true picture of an officer's efficacy and not just funneling him/her into a numbers game. Remember, good and effective evaluations require work, but the pay off can be phenomenal.
Tim Jones

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Keep the Fire Burning

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be sent to the FBI LEEDA Command Leadership Class. I did enjoy the class and the instructors were outstanding. The material was relevant and I learned a great deal....But, there was one small segment that had the most significant impact on me.

On the last day, there was a Captain from a corrections agency that said something that was pretty profound. He stated that he had been to several leadership courses and would always leave pumped up and ready to be a better leader and create positive change within his agency. But, he said that within two weeks, due to the agency's culture and other factors, he would be right back to where he was mentally prior to the class. I also had a student at one of my command leadership classes that said he left my first-line supervisor class all pumped up, but he got the wind knocked out of his sails due to the amount of work that was waiting on him when he returned to his agency.

The reason I mention this is that we as LEADERS need to work hard to avoid losing our fire...our drive to make ourselves and our people better. In Robert Sutton's "Good Boss, Bad Boss", he talks about the five mindsets of effective leaders. One of them is Grit. This is a leader's ability to stay the course and look at leadership as a marathon, not a sprint.

It is very easy to fall into a rut once you are comfortable with your position and things are moving smoothly. This is good if your goal is to be a manager. But if you want to be a leader, ruts are no place to be. Ruts inhibit vision. Ruts are easy and they do not require a lot of thinking or effort. It is easy to see why supervisors fall into this trap. In a way it's efficient, right? The least amount of effort getting the desired output - management.

Well, I don't teach management. I teach leadership. Leaders avoid ruts and spend time keeping their people out of ruts as well. To quote Tony Robbins, "if you are not growing, you are dying". Leaders must have vision. They constantly look at their span of control (their bubble) and look for ways to make it better. Very good leaders will talk with their people to get their input on what should improve and how to do it. Good leaders are students of leadership and constantly look for ways to improve their leadership skills (training, books, articles, etc).

To keep the fire burning, we must constantly seek to improve ourselves and our people. This act requires effort. If you want to be a leader, know that there is work involved. I'm not saying that you must pull off astonishing changes and events to be deemed a leader. Even small events or changes can have significant effects on your span of control. As long as you are making the effort and steering clear of the rut, good things can happen.

To illustrate this point, here is one of my favorite TED talks:

Lollipop Moment

I'll conclude this post the way I end my leadership class - With Andy Andrews's seven decisions. They have helped me in life and with leadership.

1. The buck stops with you. If your people (and yourself) are not improving, whose fault is it? IT IS YOUR FAULT! The buck stops with the leader.
2. Seek wisdom. Good leaders are not afraid to ask for help...especially from their subordinates.
3. Be a person of action. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, right? Again, to quote Tony Robbins, "knowledge is not power, it is potential power - action is power". Have the vision to look for ways to make improvements and then have the courage to take the first step.
4. Have a decided heart - Again, have the courage to take the first step.
5. Choose to be happy. Yes, happiness is a choice. There are people who go through heart wrenching ordeals and still have the ability to be happy. Why? because they choose to be. Being happy will spread to your people and work/life will be better for them and you.
6. Have a forgiving spirit. I teach a whole section on emotional intelligence. One of the biggest mistakes people and supervisors make is that they hold grudges. This act is toxic. LET IT GO AND MOVE ON!
7. Lastly, but most importantly, stay the course and look at leadership as a marathon. Avoid ruts and be a symbol of inspiration for your people.

Here is a link to Andy's book illustrating these points in a fictional tale:

The Traveler's Gift

Tim

Friday, September 30, 2016

What drives our people?

Hello everyone. It has been a while since I've posted. I retired this summer and I took the opportunity to chillax a little. It was nice. Now, I'm back to building my training business and enhancing the careers of public safety personnel.

While I was chillaxing this summer, I had the opportunity to read some material and watch some videos by Tony Robbins. I have to admit, I always knew who he was, but I never really paid attention to him. I must say, I am a very big fan now - and I'm not always easily won over.

What I like about Tony's teachings are that they look at the root causes of why people do what they do. With most people, actions are driven by emotions and emotions are driven by psychological or human needs. A foundation of Tony's talks is understanding the six human needs that drive people. Said needs are:

1. Certainty - We need to know what is going to happen, or, at least have a good idea as to what will happen. We do this by creating routines and setting attainable goals with mapped out steps. It's predictable and provides consistency in our lives.

2. Uncertainty - What? Uncertainty? You just said certainty. Believe it or not, we also need some variety in our lives. As long as the variety is pleasant - serendipitous. As Tony says, if the surprise is something we don't like, we call it a problem. Taking a spontaneous weekend trip with our partners or mountain biking on a trail you've never ridden before are good examples of positive uncertainty.

3. Significance - We all want to be relevant, or significant, in some fashion. Of course, some want this more than others. We have a need to be recognized for our accomplishments. Whether it's obtaining a PhD or a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, we do it for our own sense of accomplishment, but also for the recognition, which equals significance.

4. Love & Connection - We all crave love; it's human. If we don't get love, we will accept a connection, which, according to Tony, are the scraps of love. We all want to feel love and connection with our family, our close friends and our coworkers (well, maybe not all of our coworkers). It satisfies a significant part of our emotional needs.

5. Growth - If you are not growing, you are dying. That is a philosophy that Tony uses. He says that there are no plateaus in life. He adds that we must grow personally, in our relationships, at our jobs, even as parents. I tend to follow his philosophy because it is in my nature. But, I can see where some people like ruts, or plateaus. I suppose it goes back to certainty.

6. Contribution - This is straight from Tony - "Life is really about creating meaning. And meaning does not come from what you get, it comes from what you give. Ultimately it’s not what you get that will make you happy long term, but rather who you become and what you contribute will." 

Now that I've listed the needs, Tony adds that we are all unique on which needs we focus. He also adds that the way the needs get met can be positive, neutral, or negative. For example, let's take the need for recognition. Some may look for it by making themselves better in academics (Master's or PhD). That is a way to be recognized positively. How about the person we all know that always has bigger problems than everyone else. They are sicker, have less money, a crappier life, etc. These people are seeking recognition, but in a negative way.

I am only scratching the surface of the point that Tony makes. Just understand that emotions drive action. But what drives emotions? Is it solely extrinsic or intrinsic needs? It would seem that much of what drives us are these six intrinsic needs. Knowing what these needs are, how can we as leaders use them to be of service to our people?

In my opinion, we have to start with ourselves. Take a look at the six needs and analyze yourself. What drives you and how does it effect you as a leader (positive or negative)? After your self-analysis, look at your people and see what drives them. If you have a person that seeks positive recognition, foster it and direct it. If you have people that seek negative recognition, call them out and illustrate that they are taking themselves, and the team, in a negative direction. Maybe, if they actually see and understand what they are doing, they may change the negative behavior.

I realize that I'm taking a broad topic and funneling it down into a blog post. But I highly recommend, as a leader, you familiarize yourself with Tony's six emotional needs to better understand what drives you and what drives your people. I have incorporated this concept into my leadership classes with very positive results. What do you think?

Here are a few links to Tony explaining the six emotional needs:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_asks_why_we_do_what_we_do?language=en

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240441

Tim