To Strengthen And Preserve Cohesion Your Values...Equal Their Values

Danny Cox in his book, “Leadership When the Heat is On,” states; an organization will never rise above the quality of its leadership. With the 10 leadership characteristics as your guiding pillar of fire, you can lead some pretty wild folks successfully across a challenging desert and produce great results. When building a new team, the selection process is guided to some degree by what jobs you need handled.

That’s the easy part. Deciding who can best handle the job and/or is going to contribute the most to the team’s effort is more difficult. To determine someone’s potential as a team member, regardless of job description, I suggest you use the 10 leadership characteristics:

  1. Uncompromising integrity
  2. High Energy
  3. Good working priorities
  4. Courageous
  5. Dedication and commitment to hard work
  6. Unorthodox and creative
  7. Goal orientation
  8. Inspired and contagious enthusiasm
  9. Levelheaded
  10. A desire to help others grow and succeed

Danny Cox recommends you use this list as a 10 step report card for your evaluation of each potential leader using a 1 to 10 scale for each of the 10 characteristics. You might want to rewrite your own version of what constitutes a great leader, adding or substituting characteristics that are relevant to you and your organization. Remember that your criteria need to be consistent for everyone. Whether you’re assembling a new team or adapting an existing group to a leader or new assignment, consistency in your values is critical.

Values represent the set of principles common to all officers, elevated above that of individual ethics. Leaders who stand on that same elevated base with their officers share their motivations and views of the world with the officers they lead. Because of the unity that springs from values, leaders and police officers enjoy simplified communications, moral understanding and the implicit decision processes within our organization.

Law enforcement must embrace a unified philosophy, and decentralized approach to leading, realizing that “every officer is a problem solver” This philosophy then translates to a police department prepared to adapt, rapidly identify, and solve problems for the community it serves.

Leadership values of TRUST, STRENGTH OF CHARACTER, RESTRAINT and the understanding of WHY, we chose this profession and operate in a purpose driven manner, are to compliment classic values and attributes toward good law enforcement problem solving and decision making.

In addition to the recommended characteristics above from Danny Cox, these are the key attributes I believe a law enforcement officer should possess and aspire to:

  • Rapid decision maker -this enables rapid decision-making without conscious awareness or effort.
  • Critical thinker-the ability to achieve understanding, evaluates viewpoints, and solves problems.
  • Self-aware-an understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Social skills-the ability, to assess people’s strengths and weaknesses, the use of communication skills, and the art of listening.
  • Honesty-executes with fairness and straightforward conduct.
  • Forward looking-maintains situational awareness and able to anticipate problems and take calculated risks.
  • Inspiring-able to arouse unity, focus and execution.
  • Competent-possesses knowledge and critical skills and can translate “knowledge and skills” to real world problems.
  • Tenacity-resilient and able to adapt accordingly by maintaining focus of effort on overall intent of mission.
  • Open-mindedness-the ability to look at other viewpoints and options while continuing to learn, unlearn and relearn while solving problems

These leadership characteristics are designed to promote the quality of character in leaders and officers. This enables initiative, innovation and a bias for action to cultivate among all within the organization based on our mission and vision.

The values help describe rather than define the philosophy of command, and indicate what command and leadership qualities are required to support our approach to policing.

Key ideas include:

Decentralized decision making to accelerate tempo and gain initiative; mission tactics; a human approach centered on exploiting “human traits such as boldness, initiative, personality, strength of will and imagination;” implicit communications through mutual understanding, shared philosophy and experience; shared danger and privation; professional trust; familiar relationships and the ability to thrive in an environment of chaos, uncertainty and friction.

These types of characteristics enhance decentralized control or what the United States Army and United States Marine Corps are calling ‘Mission Command.’

‘Mission Command’ represents the preferred method of command and influence that guides their converging leadership and policing philosophies. Conduct of police operations, through decentralized execution based on mission orders for effective mission accomplishment. Successful mission command results from subordinate leaders at all echelons exercising disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to accomplish missions. It requires an environment of trust and mutual understanding. Which after all are based on the foundation of the values an, organization embraces.

In short I am suggesting that you look for the same qualities in new people you expect from yourself as their leader. Make sure you are not trying to clone yourself. Your simply setting forth what you believe constitutes the highest ideals in professional conduct and using those ideals as a standard measure.

Danny Cox says you can learn a lot from how someone tells you they intend to behave. To make a difference the values you identify must truly mean something to everyone in the organization. They must be values that are lived and breathed. When this is the case values lead to commitment because people know what is expected and what everyone in the organization believes in, which in turn leads to credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership and is what leads to the development of mutual trust. Trust is that glue that holds individuals and groups together. And the level of trust others have in you as a leader will determine the amount of influence you have.

Your values equal their values so be sure to lead by example or you’re not really leading at all.

Stay Oriented!