Imagine a Police Culture Where People Wake Up Every Day Inspired to Go to Work

“As a leader, we are not responsible for the results. As a leader, we are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.” ~Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of favorite authors on the topic of inspirational leadership. He understands people and what makes them tick. His methods inspire people to do the work not because they have to but because the want to. His vision asks us to “Imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work, feel safe while they are there, and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves.” In a police culture that all too often seems, to focus on individualism and I instead of, TEAMWORK and WE, his vision is refreshing and one I think we in policing should focus on shaping in our profession. The rapidly changing world and the threat climate of today demand a police culture where individuals act as one to accomplish organizational goals.

In his briefing Organic design for Command and Control, John Boyd (my all-time favorite strategist) laid out the ingredients needed to pursue a unifying vision, vitality and growth in an organization. They are:

1) Insight, the ability to peer into and discern the inner nature or workings of things;
2) Initiative, the internal drive to think and take action without being urged;
3) Adaptability, the power to adjust, or change in order to cope with new or unforeseen circumstances;
4) The final ingredient Boyd discussed is harmony, the power to perceive or create interaction of apparently disconnected events or entities in a connected way.

In order to leverage these attributes takes self-aware and selfless leadership.
Without insight there can be no orientation to deal with both present and future. Without initiative there can be no vigorous effort. Adaptability implies variety and rapidity. Without variety and rapidity one can neither be unpredictable nor cope with changing and unforeseen circumstances. Without harmony of effort an organization is not as effective as it could be dealing with problems.

As leaders we must develop people who can adapt to situations or we lose control. Control in the adaptive leadership methodology is not authority only. It’s not about micro-management. It’s about developing and nurturing an environment of getting things done because we all have common values and goals. People willing to hold ourselves and each other responsible to the high standards we set. How? Through education and training, constant exploration and learning as well as refinement and continuous improvement through critiques and after action reviews.

When you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don't need control in the traditional meaning of the word. Instead control comes from people taking joy in responsibility. They know what needs to be done, and they do it. The more trust developed the more people will devote themselves, to the organizational cause, on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchs and control mechanisms you need. Trust me this is not free reign leadership, it is leadership that understands the need to develop and inspire its people.

Re-imagine a change in our organizational culture that emboldens how we lead. Re-imagine a culture that breeds, through inspiration and values the type of organization where things get done through systems wide problem solving in innovative and creative ways, because we provide the ongoing training, education, and provide the tools necessary, to give everyone in our organizations the advantage to reach the goals we set. Imagine a culture of innovation that is demonstrated by an environment within which every single person in the organization is invested in the organization’s success and feels a responsibility to implement new and better ways to achieve organizational objectives. A culture where people are encouraged and feel safe to try alternative paths, test ideas to the point of failure, and learn from the experience.

Can you imagine this type of culture? I can, and we are more than capable of developing it. All it takes is self-aware and selfless people willing to trust one another and work together.

Stay Oriented!
Fred