I have often discussed the direction our country is headed, the youth of our country, and how we can ensure that the country we recognize as America remains intact. These discussions have been both with like-minded people and people who hold opposing views.
Whether we agree or disagree on certain subjects related to the argument, there is one constant: Americans who care about this country want to see a better America for our future generations.
While discussions about the future of America may branch off in many different directions, they all seem to come back to a few basic topics. One such topic is the future of our children, specifically their role models, values and what our children are being taught or not being taught. This often comes back to leadership: leadership of adults who are responsible for raising the children, leadership of those in positions of influence for our children, and leadership of the people responsible for running our nation.
We must all recognize that there have been significant failures in the leadership arena, usually in the form of failing to set proper examples for our children— whether it is to better monitor what our children watch on television or online, or to have open discussions with our children about current affairs that affect them. It is our duty to ensure that the next generation is informed, guided, and has proper values instilled, and that duty falls on us as adults.
By this point you may be wondering where I’m going with this. Well it is rather simple: the same principle carries over to being a leader in the work you do. Many of us in law enforcement and the military—and in any position of leadership, for that matter—have a duty to guide.
Anyone who has the honor and privilege of being in a leadership position should hold themselves to the same standard as if they were leading their own children. If you have a child, you teach them what you know, and you allow them to make mistakes so they will learn. You guide, educate and provide for your children so they may do better than you.
These should be the same principles for those you have the opportunity to lead. Leading with these points in mind will allow you to build strong people and future leaders from within any organization or unit you are a part of.
Many times I see people who are put in a leadership role quickly forget these basics. They may forget that leading is a privilege and they have a much higher level of responsibility to those whom they are charged with leading.
Some people view their position simply as a supervisor rather than a leader. Each person who accepts such a role should have a clear understanding that they are accepting the fact that they will be held to a higher standard than those they lead, but they also should reinforce that a higher standard is also expected from those they lead. It should further be understood that it will require work, time, understanding, guidance, coaching, counseling, and sometimes discipline.
As stated previously, you are essentially parenting those whom you are responsible for, and if there is a failure, it often reflects on you as a leader.
Being in a leadership position, I have found that those I am responsible for desire to do well and to excel in whatever role they are filling. They look to me for approval as children look to parents for approval. Many of these people are driven just as much, if not more, by their own will to be the best at what they do. They want to be competent in their duties and successful in their careers.
This is where leaders must realize the importance of our roles, and that it is completely unnecessary for us to allow mistakes we have made to be repeated by those we lead.
As leaders, we must also have some humility, and this is one of the things I have seen many leaders, myself included, fail at. It is very hard to admit we were wrong or that someone under our charge may know more than we do on certain subject matters.
I can tell you from my experience that leaders who have humility are some of the most successful and effective leaders in our nation. They understand that it’s OK to make mistakes, admit and correct them. They understand it takes a team effort to be successful, and no one person knows everything. It is a collective effort, with people who have different knowledge bases and experience levels coming together to work toward a common goal.
If you are a leader or aspire to be one, remember that leading is a privilege. Take this privilege seriously. Strive to leave whatever team or group of individuals you are responsible for better than when you got it.