Positive Adaptive Leadership...Tools and Tips and Critical Questions To Explore in 2013 Inspired by Many Of Those I Follow

"Vision is what you see for tomorrow, and is an aspiration informed by insight and driven by desire. Your vision is a mental image of something that has not yet occurred or a state not yet achieved.” ~J Scott Shipman

  • Autonomy the urge to direct our own lives (Daniel Pink)
  • Mastery-the desire(INTEREST)to get better (Daniel Pink)
  • Purpose-a yearning for something larger than self (Daniel Pink)
  • Mutual Trust: Lubricant reducing "Friction" in decision-making and driving, influencing us to do the things that matter.

Five essential elements of a To Be or To Do Culture (J Scott Shipman):

  1. A measurable and realistic vision, pursued by engaged, competent, responsible and accountable people who strive for harmony.
  2. Individual insight is characterized by clarity and credibility of purpose, expectations, and communications.
  3. The freedom and expectation for individuals to act where experience and intellectual capability warrant.
  4. Agile and adaptable, able to successfully cope, learn, and shape unfolding circumstances, including failures, both internal and external to the enterprise.
  5. Guards the elements listed above for each member without regard to position so they and the enterprise can flourish and grow, and where applicable, gain a competitive advantage.

What drives and influences us, to do things that matter?

Accountability is a cornerstone of organizational cohesiveness. Accountability in a collaborative effort arises from the time and energy teammates spend in robust debate and discussion devoted to understanding and taking ownership of the shared goals and in figuring out how best to accomplish them TOGETHER.

A sense of accountability holds people responsible for performance and for results. Accountability lies at the root of leadership authenticity. A leader who does not hold himself accountable will find it difficult to lead others. Leadership provides a foundation for effective management: the operational rigor, processes, policies and people who must be in place to ensure that an organization runs smoothly.

Accountability underscores management because it reinforces getting things done right and done on time. While management is administrative, leadership is aspirational. It focuses on what must be done to ensure that the organization and its people succeed.

Accountability is essential because the leader must make difficult decisions. A leader who is not accountable to the organization will act in his, own, self-interest (or for a select few) rather than doing what the organization needs him to do; stand up for what is right.

Accountability matters. Not simply to the leader but even more so to the people in the organization who look to those at the top to mange effectively and lead well.

This takes you having great INTEREST in your job and those you work with as you all strive for continuous improvement in execution. Scott Shipman brought some great insight into the importance of INTEREST as it relates to developing insight, imagination and initiative. In short if you do not have an INTEREST in what you do then what motivates you to continuously improve? Without INTEREST what motivates you to explore tactical dilemmas as they are unfolding and gain insight as to whats going on? Without INTEREST why would you use your experience and imagination to think about tactical options that may be better suited to help you gain the initiative and resolve a crisis situation versus just following yesterdays plan? Without INTEREST would you develop those in your charge in a way that helps them improve so they make a difference? If you are not INTERESTED in what you do would you communicate effectively? Would you attempt to understand the problems you face and those you lead? Would your decisions be sound? Would you hold yourself and those in your charge accountable? Being INTERESTED in what you do drives how you execute and continually improve!

Leader/Teacher: Understanding the concept of leader as educator and trainer is critical to organizational effectiveness and a Results Focused Work Environment.

How do we make continuous improvement?

Overnight successes make for great stories, but that’s largely because they’re so rare. Success, the kind that leads to great organizations, is built on the foundation of a huge amount of hard work over time and is achieved by continuous improvement.

“Push to improve metrics and the metrics will improve for a while. Teach the philosophy of a job well done and the metrics will improve forever.” ~Simon Sinek

“Improve things little by little. Make sure that the process that caused problems this morning doesn’t cause problems this afternoon. The way to increase your hourly production volume is to recognize problems when they occur and to make the necessary improvements to prevent them from recurring.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“When you go out into the workplace, you should be looking for things that you can do for your people there. You’ve got no business in the workplace if you’re just there to be there. You’ve got to be looking for changes you can make for the benefit of the people who are working there.” ~Taiichi Ohno

“As much as possible, get the opinions of the people who are actually doing the work. Wisdom is born from the ideas of novices. The veterans will spout off about what’s possible and what’s not possible on the basis of their experience and a tiny bit of knowledge. And when the veterans speak, everyone else keeps quiet. So kaizen can’t even get started.” ~Taiichi Ohno

It’s up to us to raise the bar!

This is a handy reference for leadership behaviors that leaders need to demonstrate in the workplace in order to build greater levels of trust and achieve intended results. What follows is from a great little book, "The Leaders Pocket Guide" by John Baldoni


Create a shared vision and mission

  • Use organizational purpose to develop a clear and concise mission statement.
  • Communicate the vision clearly and concisely.
  • Support the vision with a strong link to the organizational mission.
  • Support the vision and mission with organizational values that reinforce positive behaviors.

Develop alignment with mission and strategies

  • Communicate the vision widely.
  • Invite each team (shift, division) to develop its own mission linked to the organizational mission.
  • Develop strategies that reinforce your vision and mission.
  • Invite team (shift, divisions) to develop tactics to support the strategies.

Build a high-performing organization

  • Create teams with individuals whose talents and skills complement one another.
  • Instill an innovation ethos that rewards individuals and teams for doing things differently as long as they are in line with the vision and mission).
  • Set goals that challenge the team to stretch and individuals to excel.
  • Delegate authority and responsibilities to team leaders. Hold them accountable for results.
  • Recognize individuals for exceptional performance.
  • Identify individuals worthy of assuming greater levels of authority and responsibility.


Be seen

  • Visit people where they work.
  • Stay in touch visually with your teams (shift, division).
  • Institute and open door policy so people can visit with you if they need to.
  • Hold shift meetings where the work is done.

Be heard

  • Deliver consistent messages. Make your messages clear, coherent, and concise.
  • Listen more than you speak.
  • Check for understanding.
  • Invite feedback from you officers.

Be there

  • Be accessible and available to help always.
  • Lead by example, by letting your actions speak louder than words.
  • Act for the good of the team (shift, division).
  • If sacrifice is required, be the first to volunteer.

Coach as you see, hear, and act

  • Schedule regular coaching conversations with your officers
  • Prepare for them in advance.
  • Develop an approach that is based upon constructive conversation where you can counsel, challenge, and encourage your officers.
  • Learn what makes individuals tick and leverage those motivators.
  • Provide constructive criticism that affirms individual contributions as well as provides insight into further development.
  • Insist that every officer has a development plan that covers work goals and professional goals.

Action Tips

  • Adopt the “what, not how” style of leadership. Give people an assignment and let them figure out how to do it for themselves. Make yourself available to provide assistance when asked.
  • Regard dissent as an opportunity to explore alternatives. Dissent is the best protection against groupthink.
  • When you make a hard decision, put the organization first, not yourself.
  • Praise your shift when it perseveres in the face of adversity. Be available to support officers and be their leader.
  • Look on the light side. Life is tough enough without being serious all the time. Allow for some levity.
  • Make a habit of meeting and mingling with all levels of your organization. Listen more than you speak.
  • Consider roadblocks as opportunities for learning as well as opportunities for you to lead.

Questions to consider in assessing yourself as a leader

  • Does your shift know that it is your job to set expectations and follow through on them?
  • Does your shift know where you stand on the issues?
  • Does your shift look to you to explain their roles in fulfilling our mission?
  • Does your shift believe that you have what it takes to help people do their jobs better?
  • Do your officers believe that you have their best interest at heart?
  • Do your officers believe that it’s your job to help them succeed as individuals and as a team?
  • Do officers acknowledge your leadership when they bring their problems to you
  • Does your shift trust you to make tough decisions?
  • Does the shift feel comfortable in raising alternative views in your presence?
  • Does the shift recognize that you are one who tries to do what is best for the organization?

These are some thoughts inspired by folks I follow I want to explore more deeply in 2013. There are many more folks I follow not mentioned individually here but they have no less influnece on my thinking. Many fellow Boydians,,ancient and modern strategists, many cops and cop developers. Many of those from the community who may agree or disagree with some police methods and tactics and question the legitimacy of our actions. Many from the military, scientists, research and developers, and the business world who strive daily to make a difference in what it is they do. Many of you, know who you are, many may not, but and I thank you all as well, for the influence you all have had on the shaping and reshaping of my thinking. My hope is that it makes a difference in cops being more effective and safe while performing the difficult job they have!

Stay Oriented!