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Mark Thrasher offers this month’s Journal article. Mark is a machine shop owner in Indiana, and an Army veteran and former Indiana marshal. He has insight into current leadership questions not only from the business perspective but also from the military and law enforcement perspectives.
By Mark Thrasher
Leadership is the ability to effectively influence people to accomplish both simple and complex missions.
Effective and dynamic leadership will influence and direct people into areas where THEY never knew they possessed the ability. Leadership is to some degree a “God given” ability; however without the proper guidance and mentorship, it may never be fully developed. Great leadership is never so insecure as to NOT allow those under him/her to fail. Conversely, leadership is the ability to focus on the strong points in the team and develop those areas that need improvement. GREAT leadership is governed by a variety of factors.
Loyalty is what holds a team together. Navy SEALS are made up of very common people who as a team are unstoppable. The bond of loyalty to each other is so strong that death of yourself is far less important than death of a team member. As police officers you have to know that the person to your right, left, front and back is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect you. Likewise, YOU fear more for the well being of your partner than you do yourself. This is not to say you are reckless in your actions, but you develop a “team” mentality rather than a “self preservation” mentality.
Loyalty is driven largely by dedication. This dedication is far greater than the mission at hand. The current mission is only a “cog” in the overall plan. If you only had dedication for “one” mission, the war would be lost. Ask the Japanese in World War II. The Kamikaze was a last ditch effort when all hope of success was lost. An entire country’s fate hinged on the proverbial “hand full” of pilots willing to sacrifice their lives to the cause, and as a result, the country failed its people.
Loyalty and dedication is about serving a cause that is greater than yourself and only feeling success when the “Team” succeeds. Senseless sacrifice does not support success. Leadership does not allow misguided personal sacrifice. It is de-moralizing to the effort and seldom makes the team stronger.
Something has to be the glue to hold the “Team” together. Honesty and Ethics are the glue. Our word is our bond. This is what military officers live by. If I tell you something, it is true. You never need to question that. Likewise, you must be willing to accept honesty. This is not always what you want to hear. Sometimes it goes against your very fiber. Ethics is the sense, responsibly and honesty to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Values and morals shape our destiny. The old adage: “you are the friends you keep” is very true. If you associate, train, socialize and promote professionalism, you will be the same. As police officers we need to always be aware of our surroundings and the company we keep. With the onset of the “Social Media” blitz, this is even more important.
Officers need to monitor personal sites and be aware of who is on them. Police, clergy, and teachers are held to a higher standard by the general public. If they see you, a police officer, walk out of a bar falling-down drunk, credibility, respect and honor are all brought into question. If you choose to be a police officer, you must be willing to live to a higher standard. As a person that has lived the military life, owns a business, and done police work, I believe all these occupations are a life style, not just a job. It becomes who you are and not just what you do. If it does not…. Your success may be limited.
And finally, the most dynamic factor is perseverance. You may possess the aforementioned traits, or a large part of them, but perseverance is key. Are you willing to keep going even when the adversity is overwhelming?
As a police officer, quitting is not an option. You can’t just stop when things get bad. You can never “back off the gas” when a brother/sister is in peril. You very well could be the only hope. The ability to press through fear, anxiety and apprehension, and to adapt to a constantly changing situation should be the benchmark of excellence for every police officer.
Leadership in your community—that is demonstrated through dedication, excellence and love of country—will be seen by your comrades. Never settle for second best in yourself or those that work for you. Allow them to rise to their highest level of expertise; allow them to excel at what they are good at. Allow yourself to learn from anyone and everyone. This is the mark of a leader!
[As always, anyone interested in submitting an article to the Journal is invited to do so by emailing: email@example.com with a copy of the article attached to the email.]