Accomplishment #6

 We worked to change the department leadership style from Directive to Servant Leader.  We removed the rank-has-its-privileges mindset among supervisors starting by eliminating the reserved parking for captains and chief and making the captains and chief pay for their take-home cars like everyone else.  We also now make the chief and captains wait in line for a new car like everyone else. 

I love it when my views are challenged and many have risen to the task.  Getting input from lots of angles inevitably generates better decisions and I humbly accept that.  I have a guiding role, but those closest to the problem often have the best solutions on implementation.

My desire to have more participatory leadership has had mixed results.  I was initially a little naïve in that I thought everyone would welcome me and know that even if imperfect, my motives were pure.  I see the world in a very positive way, but unfortunately, as cops we’re faced with the worst and it has the potential to jade us.

Lessons Learned:

Inter-department communication is much harder than I thought it would be.  I got so caught up with innovating new ideas and juggling all the demands of being chief, that I didn’t spend enough time with the front line.  My leadership was strong with the people I worked with directly, but weak on face-time with the troops.  I should have stayed more tuned into the street work.
As far as communication goes, I’ve learned that if people aren’t being regularly supplied with accurate information, they will make stuff up.  As suspicious as we tend to be, I’m surprised that some cops are so gullible when it comes to believing rumors.  I’m terrible at staying up with (or caring about) the rumor mill and I think that may have hurt us as a department.  That is a reality I should have paid more attention to.

Speaking of lessons learned, I got caught flat-footed on the wage restructuring between Detectives and Patrol.  Following the city-wide study, both increased, but Detectives increased more than Patrol.  I had no idea it would create such a ruckus.  I consider myself a pretty good student of human nature, but simply missed this one.  I initially viewed it as the crabs-in-the-bucket syndrome (the saying goes that you don’t need a lid for the bucket if you have more than one crab because they will pull each other down), but I now understand that many viewed it as a matter of fairness. 

An interesting Harvard study illustrates this point.  Students were asked whether they would prefer:

a.      $50,000 a year while others got half that or

b.      $100,000 a year while others got twice as much.

A majority chose (a). They were happy with less, as long as they were better off than others.
I still don’t personally accept the premise and am a little baffled and disappointed in human nature, but I should have been prepared for the reality of it.
I’m extremely gratified that so many of the men and women of the Idaho Falls Police Department will confront me if they believe I’m headed down the wrong path.  This is a dramatic shift from the past.  I believe I’ve earned this trust because I listen and act on their insights.  I also love it that our captains lead from the front and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.  The department is in good hands.