Leadership and Developing Your People Are Two Important Cogs in the Cycle of a Successful Organization

When I am asked what type of training I do, I tell them my programs of instruction are focused on developing adaptive leaders. They then often state something like "your training seems to focuses its efforts on developing decision makers, is this leadership training"? My response: "is that not what leadership is all about, developing your people so they know their jobs and more?" The next look is the aha moment that sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension of what real leadership is all about. They begin to see that adaptive leadership focuses on developing people taking a holistic approach to the planning, preparation, execution, and assessment of training that goes beyond task proficiency and incorporates a focus on developing critical attributes in people and leaders of an organization by emphasizing the “why” behind actions and the consequences of decisions within a wider context. It brings new meaning to training, which is, how to do. Education or, how to think and develops people who can adapt to changing conditions and reach the outcomes the seek which are al too often complex and rapidly changing crisis situations.

Leadership and development are two important cogs in the cycle of a successful organization. You cannot be successful at one without the other and to do this requires, mutual trust. William Lind in The Maneuver Warfare Handbook says:

"Both leadership and monitoring are valueless without trust. The “contracts”… of intent and mission express that trust… that his subordinates will understand and carry out his desires and trust by his subordinates that they will be supported when exercising their initiative. In reality it is a series of contracts between commanders and officers. The commander, in his contract, pledges to make the result he desires crystal clear to his officers… to leave the officer maximum latitude in determining how to get the result, and perhaps the greatest change - to back him up when he makes mistakes."

The officer ensures that his actions serve the commander's intent; self-discipline is substituted for imposed discipline and initiative is constantly rewarded. The focus is on the situation, the crisis and the final outcome. Missions are defined in terms of the desired effect on the problem faced. When changed circumstances preclude the realization of the commander’s intent through the original mission, officers are expected to revise their plans accordingly.

Mission command is the name the United States Military gives to this bottom up approach to leadership. It fits perfectly into a Police Departments Mission, Vision and Values. Mission Command denotes decentralized leadership; it is a philosophy of command that requires and facilitates initiative in all levels of command directly involved with events in the community. It allows and encourages subordinates to exploit opportunities by empowering them to demonstrate initiative and exercise personal judgment in pursuance of their mission while maintaining alignment through the concept of the commander’s intent. The approach presupposes the existence of trust in the individual's ability to act wisely and creatively when faced with unexpected situations, independently from higher authority.

To get to this level takes a lot of hard work and an understanding that leadership is not an event driven phenomenon where leader puppet master their officers through orders and micro-micro-management. Leadership is a an day to day quest to educate, train and develop our people in innovative ways. Are minimum standards enough? . . . Can we do better? Does the ability to execute tasks and drills, in and of itself, get to the development of the type of police officers and leaders that we want? Traditional training and education may not meet all the needs of an 21st century police department… developing new approaches may be necessary.

What say you?

Stay Oriented!

Fred