5 Leadership Skills I Learned as Chief of Police, and Use as Dad
I accepted my first law enforcement command assignment in 1992. I was still very new in my career but, I was promoted as the commander over a multi-jurisdictional drug and violent crimes task force.
From then, until my retirement as chief of police in August 2015, I’d held leadership positions at a large nationally accredited agency. I’ve served as a division commander over a detective bureau, special ops section and uniform patrol division.
In addition to my 12 years in an undercover narcotics team and 16 years on SWAT, I finished my career with the last 5 as the chief of police. To tell you I’ve been in the thick of things for a very long time, is to tell you the truth. I’ve learned lots during the most difficult of experiences.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about leading people is knowing how to serve them. Aptly enough it’s called “Servant Leadership.”
I’ve had many rookies ask when they would get promoted or get to be in charge. It was sometimes distressing as not every situation was about an eagerness to lead but the assumed status they secretly sought over their peers. My response was pretty typical, “Once you’ve learned to serve.” Of course, that wasn’t the answer they wanted.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 3:15-17
The lessons I’ve learned during those years of leading also apply to the most important leadership role you will fulfill. Being a parent to your biological child can be challenging. Being a parent in the blended family can be downright tough.
Your child has known you and your ways since conception. Blended kids have no base of reference other than you’re the new adult in their parent’s life that isn’t their other parent. Talk about a tough crowd!
Believe it or not, it’s usually the adult who bails on the blended family by giving up on their spouse’s child, rather than the other way around. This cuts both ways as the step-parent vies for the attention, love and affection of the kids’ parent.
They are your responsibility, not your competition. Dr. Scott Silverii
These are 5 truths I’ve leaned upon during my career. They’ve served me well having moved up the ranks from a rookie patrolman to the city’s top cop.
I also use them daily as the chief in my own blended household.
Never lie to them – This should seem simple, but it’s not. Don’t lie even about the smallest of things.
Never speak harsh to them – Spirit crushing words rarely heal, and are seldom forgotten.
Always lead from the front – There’s a huge difference in “Go,” versus “Let’s Go.”
Consistent in discipline – No one responds well to wavering behavior that teeters on varying ends of the spectrum
Trust but confirm – You’re still in a position of authority and must ensure that they are following the rules.
Focus on finding or creating small scenarios where you can teach the child or children something you know or enjoy. Have patience, and use the moments to build common ground, not to punish them for unfamiliarity.
While it may be easy to boss kids around, practice holding yourself to a higher standard of mentoring. They don’t need a job site foreman, they need a decent adult who won’t let them down like their biological parent did to them and their parent. And who knows, you might end up enjoying them after all.