Adaptive Leaders …Develop Strength of Character

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” -Abraham Lincoln

As police leaders we develop mission statements, vision statements and core values. We write and implement policy and procedures and rules and regulations. We develop training programs and ensure all officers participate. All this, in an effort to, develop us, into more effective police officer sand police departments. All this is an important part of the continuous learning necessary to be able to perform on the street, but doesn’t there have to be more to ensure all are engaged in moving the organization in a positive direction?

I believe there is a more critical role, in fact it my view it is the most critical role leaders of organizations play in developing because with out this important attribute very little, even despite our best efforts at the above  will be accomplished in a fluid and effective way. That attribute is character!

As soon as you become a leader in your organization you take on a great responsibility. A responsibility that transcends just you and indeed affects everyone in the organization you influence. As a leader through your beliefs, values and life and professional experience, you become the lynchpin by which all visions, missions, values, policies and procedures, rules and regulations are lived and breathed throughout the organization. You as the leader inspire how decisions are made and even whether or not they are made in a timely manner. Character matters and leadership challenges must develop strength of character.

“Character is a cohesive approach to conducting yourself, interacting with others, and representing the organization.” ~Travis Bradberry & Jean Greeves, Leadership 2.0: Learn The Secrets of Adaptive Leadership

Building Character...An Evolving Step by Step Process

In there book Leadership 2.0: Learn the Secrets of Adaptive Leadership, the author’s state; “Character is built over time through integrity, credibility, and valuing differences (acting on the belief that everyone has something to offer). The leadership challenges that will build your character are almost always complicated dilemma or difficult decisions.”  This observation it’s been my experience is very true. The day to day operational responsibilities we leaders have are a necessary part of the job and yes how we do this job has an effect on everyone in the organizations but the true test of leadership and character building comes when things go wrong and leaders need to take a stand.

The critical question then is did you take that stand based on the values and with integrity? Even if it did not shed a shining light on you the leader? For example; an officer finding himself facing disciplinary action for an action he took following your orders. Did you stand up and take the responsibility or did you come up with some creative reason he should have known better?  Character is made or unmade in situations like this. Taking on the responsibility even when it’s uncomfortable is where strength of character and leadership is created and nurtured. Selfless service is what leadership is all about and that selfless service is where character comes from and develops the bonds that are necessary for organizations to succeed in their most effective way.

“When you successfully pass tests of character, you strengthen your people’s relationship with and loyalty to your organization. If you fail, those working for you can’t reach their potential. It is never too late to build your character. Your people and organization are counting on it.” say Bradberry & Greaves. My experience has been the authors are spot on! To make people lust for the mission, vision and values takes more than just inspiring and will it takes strength of character. We are human however and sometimes lose our way. What do you do when you lose yours? How do you find it again and do you have the strength of character to find out how?

Stay Oriented!


5 star review: Outstanding Book-Handbook for Leaders