Must Read Book On Leader Development, Updated Kindle Addition: Don Vandergriff's, Raising The Bar:

Raising The Bar

Don Vandergriff book Raising the Bar Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War
is now updated and out in the Kindle addition . Raising the Bar is a book that defines organizational culture, leadership and training methods to develop and inspire learning organizations. The book was written with the United States Army in mind, but its message, speaks to and sets the foundation for those individuals and organizations wanting to do more as leaders than just find and document failures in those they work with, but instead remove those failures. Law enforcement officers, leaders and trainers will learn much from this book on how to shape and reshape our culture of check the box training and telling cops what to think and do versus teaching cops how to think and how to do.

This is my favorite book on training and developing. Don's book is mandatory reading at West Point and it has revolutionized thinking on how to develop decision makers. I have used this book for several years now myself adapting the concepts to law enforcement with outstanding results. My paper copy is highlighted and is such a constant resource that the pages are falling out. I am thankful I can now get the kindle version. If your a cop, leader of cops or trainer of cops and are reading this message...READ THIS BOOK!

Adaptive Leadership Methodology is what the book is about. Below are some of my thoughts on lessons I derived from the book and how we can apply them to law enforcement.

“The aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures in men, but to remove the causes of failure.” ~ W. Edwards Deming

Leadership is the process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective, and directs his or her organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Leaders do this through communication, and personal attributes such as ethics, values, knowledge and skills. Outstanding leaders, lead by example and insure that example is set to a high standard. The goal of this is to provide mission, direction and inspiration to accomplish organizational goals.

Leaders also must practice fairness. They commend work that is praise worthy and educate, coach and train failures in an effort to fix the causes of failure. If this education and refinement fails due to a poor attitude, on the part of the person who failed and that person refuses or makes no effort to change, then discipline becomes necessary. This discipline is done above the board and face to face with the person. I make this point because all to often recognition of a job well done is not seen for what it is or, its simply thought of as “he or she was just doing their job.” Failure is seen as a “must do something about this” type of situation and disciplining the person involved in the situation seems all too often the focus, a letter in a file or a suspension. There is no balance! The problems continue and we wonder why?

This lack of balance seems to those part of the organization to be unfair, morale issues begin to show themselves and productivity dwindles. A more detrimental component to this lack of balance and fairness that shows itself, is in the decision making realm. People in the organization stop making decisions and look for direction from above, when the answer and actions to be taken are clear. This is not because they think you “the leader” has the answers, it because they want whatever answer to the problem to come from you,no headaches if you make the call! Also decisions are slowed down to the point any opportunity to gain advantage is lost. In the law enforcement and security realms the decision that was not made could mean the difference between life and death or cause great embarrassment to and liability on the organization.

Adaptive leadership is the answer to this in my view because its premise is about adapting to circumstances. Whether on the street in the heat of a dynamic encounter or in looking for productivity and accomplishment of organizational objectives. No two people are the same and no two circumstances are the same so we must adapt. As leaders we must adapt to the situation or we lose our control. Control n the adaptive leadership methodology is not about discipline only. its not about micro-management. Its about developing and nurturing an environment of getting things done because we all have a common goal and are inspired to reach that goal.

Adaptive leadership is not free-reign anything goes leadership climate either. You do have control, but it is control through inspiration and direction and accountability not ;do this!, do that!, no I told you this! and hardcore discipline only style frequently seen today. Adaptive leadership is about setting high standards and a setting goals and making the extra effort (it will take extra effort) to create and nurture this environment. Accountability is the key. We hold ourselves and each other accountable to the high standards we set. How? Through training and constant exploration and learning as well as refinement through critiques and after action reviews. If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don't need control. They know what needs to be done, and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to the organizational cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchs and control mechanisms you need.Trust me this is not free reign leadership. It is indeed Adaptive Leadership!

Re-imagine a change in our organizational culture that emboldens how we lead those we work with, a culture that breeds, through inspiration and direction the type of organization where things “get done” with innovative and creative ways of solving problems, because we provide the ongoing training, education and learning, and provide the tools necessary, to give everyone in our organizations the advantage to reach the goals we set.


A culture of innovation is typified by an environment within which every single person in the organization is invested in the organization’s success and feels a responsibility to implement new and better ways to achieve organizational objectives. People are encouraged to try alternative paths, test ideas to the point of failure, and learn from the experience. Experimentation and prudent risk-taking are admired and encouraged. Experimentation is not a destination to be reached, but an unending process of trial, feedback, learning, renewal and experimentation again. The organization as a whole is agile, ready to learn, continually changing and improving. It is fast, flexible and never prepared to say: “We have finished getting better.” Innovative organizations depend less on forecasting, planning and control and more on scanning, agility and feedback. Innovative organizations embrace uncertainty, recognizing that an uncertain future potentially holds as many opportunities as it does threats.. -Brig. Gen. David Fastabend and Robert Simpson define in the article “Adapt or Die”: Excerpt from Raising the Bar: by Don Vandergriff