A Leadership Manifesto That Gets People Off the Street and Back into Their Homes:
How to Wage Peace in Your Community
By James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Member Emeritus
As presented at the FBI-LEEDA Conference, May 6, 2015, Austin, TX
My goal for this presentation is threefold:
First, to understand why people are so angry, recognizing the gravity of this situation as it destroys and divides police departments, the police personnel and their leadership from the people we serve, protect and defend.
My perspective is that job one has to be the restoration of the relationship between police leadership and the community. Restoration of these more important relationships will only occur when public confidence in police leadership is rebuilt and restored.
I spent time reviewing a lot of documents and talking to police professionals across the country in preparation for this talk, and I reviewed the interim report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century policing.
I have to observe, as a professional outsider to troubled situations, the level of denial within the police profession is especially troubling. We need to address this today.
This is at the heart of the problems this public institution is facing.
Second, I want to clarify what it is those of you in this room have to get done in your communities starting the moment you get home, if not before.
I want to talk about and clarify what you have to do, and how you have to talk about it and behave.
The fact is, national police leadership has decided to go down a pathway that is completely unachievable and largely fails to address the corrosive effects of this anger in communities all across America. They’ve chosen something called “legitimacy” and something called “relevance.”
What I’m going to talk about are two far simpler goals that you actually can and must achieve in your communities. I’m talking about “peace” and “trust.”
And third, I bring the specific tools you will need to get this process started, rather than waiting for national studies to be completed, politicians and others to get together to fund projects and programs. The need for action is now; the need for leadership is the greatest it has ever been and the need is growing.
The truth is, the solutions for the issues you’re facing lie within your own communities, from your community’s perspective. And as is almost always the case in America, two things are true.
The solution is going to come from the communities rather than from Washington.
And it will likely take things getting a lot worse than they are now before America will rouse itself and begin to relieve the situation.
This is the most peculiar and odd thing about living in a democracy. Democracies only make progress as a result of catastrophe, and even then we tend to undershoot what really needs to be done.
In my experience, that catastrophe – whatever it is – has begun to take shape.
Pick your city; pick your situation; pick your neighborhood – when a cop gets in trouble, we pretty quickly focus our anger, our fears and our emotions at those in charge, even over the officers involved in the circumstance. This is exactly where the community’s frustration should be focused – directly on police leadership.
Ultimately, my goal is for you to walk out this door in 90 minutes and have a sense of the ingredients of the plan you have to implement upon your return, rather than waiting for President Obama, a prestigious task force of really smart people, and a lot of outsiders – frankly, like me – who seem to think that they know the solutions for what’s happening in your community and how to deal with it.
The plain truth is, the solutions for the issues we’re facing today will come from the people in this room and people who we have yet to meet who will be in this room, on this same topic, next year, and perhaps for a number of years to come.
When you think about it, put 435 Congressmen and women, plus the President and his Cabinets in a room, and they couldn’t order a hamburger for lunch.
The most urgent, the most important, the most crucial, the most central defining solutions for all of the issues effecting the spectrum of police work in America is local police leadership.
So today, I want to talk about and put in your hands a manifesto of leadership tools, behaviors and ideas that you can take from this session, right now, back to your communities, back to your jurisdictions, and get started today on waging peace in your community, settling things down, bringing people together . . . to rebuild trust in community police leadership and in yourselves.
As with most leaders in crisis, you almost immediately fall into and live in what I call the YOYO Zone – You’re On Your Own – about just about everything.
The changes required to get to a new level of normalcy, community by community, needs to start the moment you leave this meeting.
There are lots of changes on the horizon and the question is: Do you intend to manage your own destiny locally, or are you going to leave it to someone else to do . . . Or until your successor can?
Take a look around this room, right now. You’re going to be meeting many strangers in the coming months and years, and losing the comfort and reassurance of many friends in that same period.
If you could examine the attendance for this meeting next year, large numbers of those here in this room today will not be at the meeting next year and will likely not be in police work as a result of what has to happen in America’s communities.
There have to be new faces, new energies; people willing to break with the past, disconnect the old networks and take a fresh look at what needs to be done from seven powerful vantage points.
This morning’s topics are crucial. They include:
- Communicating Intentionally
- Public Expectations of Ethical Leadership
- The Ingredients of Effective Leadership
- Behaviors That Build Trust
- Strategies That Wage Peace
- Avoiding Trust-Busting Behaviors
- Seeking Community Forgiveness
I want to talk with you specifically about what needs to get done to achieve peace and trust, including:
- Calming down communities and reducing fear
- Rebuilding respect for the uniform
- Reducing fear of the police
- Rebuilding community confidence in the police, especially police leadership.
- Find people, probably already in our ranks, who want to become the police of tomorrow.
Which leads naturally to a really important question:
We also have to decide, right at the beginning – what do we want to be? Who do we want to be?
- Adam 12
- Blue Bloods
- Law & Order Special Victims Unit
- Andy Griffith
You are already being defined by television. Wikipedia lists 16 pages of police-related television shows from around the world.
The collateral damage is mounting. Some of it is subtle, some of it is blatant, but the five most frequently mentioned problems are:
- Recruiting police officers is more difficult.
- Police officers are under enormous stress and demonstrably greater danger every single day.
- There’s a million distractions – cops wearing cameras, citizens videotaping routine police activities.
- Police feel that they’ve become bigger targets than those who are breaking the law.
- The ongoing war and threats from terrorists . . . many now coming from and being trained within our own country.
There was a cartoon recently showing neighbors in a community taking down the neighborhood watch signs and replacing them with neighborhood cop-watch signs.
Not very funny.
A manifesto is:
- A public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives or motives to help your officers understand what’s expected of them by the community.
- A sensible guide the community can use to understand and measure what it can expect of their police department, their law enforcement agencies and their law enforcement leadership.
It is up to every one of you to get this process started, if you haven’t already. And as you’ll see, taking individual responsibility – at whatever level you happen to work – will help the entire process move along more quickly.
This is the YOYO Zone.
Look at the bright side. Look at what you’re not being blamed for:
- The disparity between the top 1% and bottom 99% of wages in America.
- Failing public schools.
- The problems in the Middle East.
- Another divisive Presidential election.
A word about legitimacy and relevance.
Those who lead your profession have chosen to settle on the words “legitimacy” and “relevance,” so let’s talk about those words – both of which have extremely limited usage in the American lexicon.
And “legitimacy” has five syllables besides.
One thing I’ve learned in more than forty years of teaching, leading and testing communications during contentious circumstances and being a management anthropologist . . . the more syllables words have, the less likely anyone will hear them, heed them, or rely on them.
So, what are the Ingredients of Legitimacy?
- To be legitimate is to be recognized by others and have their consent and permission to proceed.
- Respectability. To be respected you need to be respectable.
- Trustworthiness. But to achieve this, you must be trustable.
- Integrity. This is conferred by others on you based on your past and therefore assumed, future behaviors.
Concepts like legitimacy and relevance are largely irrelevant when those red and blue lights are angrily flashing in your rearview mirror and you’re the one whose day is likely to be changed dramatically, perhaps in the next few minutes.
As one used to contentious circumstances in the community and the need for agreements, however small, one has to ask – what do these two words have to do with anything? The foundation of your public relationships is crumbling:
Public confidence, public consent and public permission to proceed are all being questioned.
Events of recent months have crossed a Rubicon which you can feel every day. A police officer’s word used to be their bond. The appearance of a uniformed officer brought some sense of comfort, contention reduction and a feeling perhaps of reassurance . . .
People are scared, angry, frustrated and the crazy, explosive, dangerous incidents just keep happening . . . the killing of apparently defenseless people by police officers who have lost the ability to discern who is a threat and who is not.
The result thus far is a dramatic change in relationships with individuals and organizations with the police. Various publics have now assumed a role of stakeholder and constituent rather than citizens simply subject to your commands and reliant on your protection.
Everybody is asking questions. Everybody is suspicious. Everybody is fearful.
We see the result on television news every night. We also see ourselves being portrayed in television dramas every night – being ripped from the headlines.
- More citizens are asking more questions.
- The ambiguity of the present situation empowers very small groups to stop very big efforts more easily.
- People without credentials have enormous credibility.
- Police organizations find themselves in the position of having to reprove and defend themselves somewhere, virtually every day.
- Public discussion and debate of police decisions and actions focuses more on embarrassment, humiliation and blame-shifting about the police function rather than progress, community programs and peace in your town.
Some parts of society will remain the same:
- We will always have an emotionally committed news media who act as alarmists, allegationists, interpreters, interventionists and speculators.
- The news media will always focus on conflict, controversy, confrontation and opposition. That’s been true since the founding of our Republic.
Now the media has much larger, more receptive audiences to play to about you.
- In addition, the newest issue that all of us in public life face is far more sophisticated, questioning publics who observe and now record our words and behaviors, then disseminate them for all to see and question 24/7, largely without response.
- The media are the very least of your problems.
- Rebuilding consent, permission and confidence will take time and relentlessly, constructive, positive, incremental progress, every day. The irritation of consent-building will increasingly be felt:
- Emotional communication replacing reasonable communication.
- Activism overtaking scientific investigation, facts and certainty.
- Exaggeration that overwhelms precision.
- Spontaneous grassroots manipulation involving almost every issue that arises.
- Personal self-interest, values and needs take precedence over the need for order, tolerance and calm.
- Personal fear will be an increasing factor.
- Complex, sophisticated analyses and attempts to study, analyze and explain what’s happening will cause more concern, fear and confusion rather than less.
Ironically, it’s the use of data-based justification that drives everybody crazy and emotionalizes everything.
Data never caries the day in controversy. It simply brings more controversy. Which brings up another extraordinarily powerful one-syllable word, a word which is at the core of peace and trust:
That word is talk. Generally, face-to-face.
Rather than legitimacy and relevance, whatever they mean in 32 different languages, I recommend that your goals be far simpler, stated in one-syllable words: Peace, Trust, Talk.
When we hear these words and these words are heard, they will powerfully penetrate and be seen, be heard, and be felt.
If you insist on striving for something called legitimacy and relevance, you are choosing a process that is extremely complicated, controversial and difficult for many to understand, or value.
What you do has to be about the community rather than about you.
Legitimacy and relevance are about you and things you need more than what the community needs.
The fewer the syllables, the greater the level of understanding that can occur, faster.
Your goals are:
- Peace in the community and
- Trust in your relationships with people.
- Talk that shares understandings and reduces contention and helps restore peace and trust.
We’re now beginning to talk about this manifesto of peace and tools for rebuilding trust.
A manifesto is a public declaration about what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, what you’re thinking, what your likely actions are going to be. It is the commitment to reestablish linkages with the community at every level and at every opportunity, continuously.
Everyone in this room can do these things without a mandate from Washington – or even a mandate from your state capitol. It is in fact a mandate that your community is waiting for you to pick up at the earliest possible time. Your community is waiting for you.
This is where we’re headed, today, in this room. I want to talk about:
- Communicating Intentionally
- Public Expectations of Ethical Leadership
- The Ingredients of Effective Leadership that Build Trust
- Strategies that Wage Peace Continuously
- Avoiding Trust-Busting Behaviors
- Seeking Community Forgiveness
Trust is a word that is used frequently throughout the various analyses that I’ve seen. Today I want to talk to you about how you get trust and how you keep trust.
These are the concepts that underlie what I think of as “The Seventh Pillar.” That’s the pillar that was ignored in the President’s Task Force report. Leadership Recovery – maybe even Resurrection.
When crisis occurs, as it has for the institution of policing in the United States, your major operating tool, the #1 operating tool you have, is communication.
Fail at this and the trouble continues. In the lexicon of crisis management, bad news always ripens badly.
The absence of communication is generally silence and what we’ve learned about managing crises is – and any astute public official knows – that silence in an emergency by the perpetrator is the most reputationally toxic strategy. Talking, right from the start and continuously, is really a process of detoxifying your relationships with your communities.
Before I start being specific about what you should do, let me remind you, very specifically, of those things that are causing the problems you’re having; those things that have to stop. These are the things I have heard frequently as I prepared for this presentation.
It’s these kinds of comments and thoughts that destroy leadership and public confidence:
- “The less we say, the better.”
- “Let’s wait to see who really cares about this.”
- “Why do they – whoever they are – want to know about this? They shouldn’t be interested. This is our issue. We are in charge.”
- “Only tell them what matters. They’ll just get nervous if we tell them everything.”
These attitudes are what is continuing the reputation corrosion you are facing.
And there’s more.
There are failure-driving behaviors, patterns which we can identify. Let me share with you just a handful of them.
- Don’t involve people in the decisions that need to be made from your perspective. Keep the group small; keep them focused; keep them exclusive; keep the public out.
- Hold on to information – failure to be forthcoming.
- Ignore people’s feelings. We’re going to talk about this. Ignore people’s feelings.
- Don’t follow-up. Take your time.
- If you make a mistake, deny it, deflect it or ignore it.
- Failure to speak in plain English or Spanish or Taiwanese or whatever language or languages you need to speak in.
- Be more bureaucratic. Put up additional barriers. Slow things down.
- Send out your most introverted technocrats and experts to interact with the community.
One of the most powerful axioms of crisis management is that speed beats smart most of the time.
The Profiles of Leadership Failure
- Denial: Refuse to accept the fact that something bad has happened and that there may be victims or other direct effects that require prompt public acknowledgement.
- Victim Confusion: Irritable reaction to reporters, angry neighbors and victims’ families when they call asking for help, information, explanation or apology. “Hey! We’re victims, too.”
- Testosterosis: Look for ways to hit back, rather than to deal with the problem. Refuse to give in, refuse to respect those who may have a difference of opinion or legitimate issue.
- Arrogance: Reluctance to apologize, express concern or empathy, or to take appropriate responsibility because, “If we do that, we’ll be liable,” or, “We’ll look like sissies,” or, “We’ll set a precedent,” or, “There will be copycats.”
- Search for the Guilty: Shift blame anywhere you can while digging into the organization, looking for traitors, turncoats, troublemakers, those who push back and the unconvinceables.
- Fear of the Media: As it becomes more clear that the problem is at least partly real, the media begin asking, “What did you know and when did you know it?”, “What have you done and when did you do it?”, and other humiliating, embarrassing and damaging questions for which there are no really good, truthful answers anymore because you have stalled for so long.
- Whining: Head down, finger in your navel, shuffling around, whining and complaining about how bad your luck is, about being a victim of the media, zealous do-gooders, wacko-activists, or people don’t know anything; about how people you don’t respect have power; and, that you “don’t get credit” for whatever good you’ve already contributed.
Now let’s talk about what you should do must do, have to do.
It’s about redefining and reducing the gap between the police and the community . . . rather than increasing the separation.
At a minimum, you need to begin slowing the growth of this community/police organization gap. It’s about reengaging the community from those crucial perspectives I spoke of just a few moments ago.
- Communicating Intentionally
- The Public Expectation of Ethical Leadership
- The Ingredients of Effective Leadership
- Trust-Building Behaviors – Getting, Keeping, Preserving and Protecting Trust
- The Lexicon of Waging Peace
- Avoiding Trust-Busting Behaviors
- Seeking Community Forgiveness
I. Communicating Intentionally: The Public Commitment to Communicate.
Over the years, I’ve developed a very powerful and helpful communication philosophy. At the same time, this approach defines my ethical approach to life, to work and to trouble. I call these “intentions” because this how I seek to operate my life every day, and to teach others to do the same.
- Candor – Truth with an attitude, delivered now (the foundation blocks of trust).
- Disclose, announce early.
- Explain reasoning and reasons.
- Discuss options, alternatives considered.
- Provide unsolicited helpful information.
- Openness, accessibility – Be available for the disasters as well as the ribbon cuttings.
- Be available.
- Be willing to respond.
- Truthfulness – Truth is 15% facts and data, 85% emotion and point-of-reference.
- Point of reference matters more than facts.
- Factual overload victimizes people and makes them feel stupid, therefore angrier.
- Unconditional honesty, from the start.
- Extreme Empathy / Apology – The atomic energy of empathy. Apologies stop just about everything, including litigation.
- Regret (acknowledgment) – A verbal acknowledgement by the perpetrator for their wrongful behavior caused unnecessary pain, suffering and hurt that identifies specifically what action or behavior is responsible for the pain.
- Accepting Reasonability (declaration) – An unconditional declarative statement by the perpetrator recognizing their wrongful behavior and acknowledging that there is no excuse for the behavior.
- Restitution (penance) – An offer of help or assistance to victims, by the perpetrator; action beyond the words, “I’m sorry;” and conduct that assumes the responsibility to make the situation right.
- Repentance (humility) – Language by the perpetrator acknowledging that this behavior caused pain and suffering for which he/she is genuinely sorry; language by the perpetrator recognizing that serious, unnecessary harm and emotional damage was caused.
- Direct Forgiveness Request – “I was wrong, I hurt you, yet I ask you to forgive me.”Apology is the atomic energy of empathy. Failure to apologize is an integrity lapse that causes the corrosive destruction of your reputation, personal trust and creates an impression of arrogance and callousness, that’s probably true.My advice in crisis? Call your insurance company, always talk to your lawyer, talk to your crisis consultant – then do what your mom taught you. Things will likely come out alright.Apology is always a leadership decision, never a legal decision.
- Responsiveness – Answering questions relentlessly in every situation validates your integrity.
- Every concern or question, regardless of the source, is legitimate and must be addressed.
- Answer every question; avoid judging the questioner.
- Avoid taking any question personally.
- Build followers and be nice, even in the face of anger or aggressive negativity. Anger and arrogance create plaintiffs.
- Empathy – Action always speaks louder than words.
- Action illustrates concern, sensitivity, and compassion.
- Act as though it was happening to you or someone you care about.
- It is literally impossible to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in any meaningful way, from the victim’s perspective.
- Transparency – No secrets (because important things and stupid stuff always comes out.) Prompt, complete disclosure is the foundation of credible transparency.
- Our behavior, our attitude, our plans, even our strategic discussions are unchallengeable, positive, and explainable.
- Our families would be comfortable reading about our actions, decisions, and discussions on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.
- Engagement – Face-to-face is the communications approach desired by just about everyone and every victim.
- Those who challenge us most will require aggressive positive interaction.
- Our base and those who give us permission to operate expect us to deal with unconvinceables and victims.
- Direct interactive response, even negotiation, empowers the initiator.
- Destiny Management – It’s your destiny, which only you can manage in your own best interest.
- Manage your own destiny, or you’ll find someone waiting on the sidelines to do it for you.
- Relentlessly correct and clarify the record.
- Prompt, positive, constructive elaboration of the facts preempts critics and empowers employees and supporters.
You can call this anything you like: communications policy, communication guidelines. I like the word intentions because it signifies that we are fully engaged in communicating in the most effective, honest, empathetic and open manner possible, all the time. This behavior can lead to an extraordinarily interesting and useful life.
II. The Public Expectation of Ethical Leadership
According to Will Durant in his book, “The Story of Philosophy,” he defines ethics as, “The constant striving for ideal behavior.”
Virtually every one of us understands the concept of trust and ethical behavior because our mothers taught us what this is all about. The concept of ethics constantly puts us in a position of questioning those things we do in terms of a comparison with ideal behavior.
The leadership of every organization must implicitly or explicitly recognize the ethical expectations of leaders by everyone else inside and outside of the organization.
Ethical leaders are expected to:
- Find the truth as soon as possible: tell that truth and act on it promptly.
- Raise the tough questions and answer them thoughtfully, now. This includes asking and answering questions yet to be asked by those who will be affected by whatever their circumstances are in your community.
- Vocalize core values and ideals constantly. What are they? Generally the values and ideals of an organization are usually those employees and others bring to work every day. Many of those being brought to the police station today are going to have to change.
- Most core values statements are convoluted, overly pedantic, and not easily discussed at the dinner table. If you can’t discuss these values, these concepts and these ideals at the dinner table in the evenings, you need to toss out what you’ve got, start over again and make them discussable with any audience or individual.
- Walk the talk. Be accessible and help people understand the organization within the context of its values and ideals at every opportunity.
- Ethics and values are top-down concepts at the beginning and throughout their lifespan.
- Help, expect and enforce ethical leadership. People are watching, people are counting and remembering, people know when there are lapses in ethics and when trust is broken.
- Be a cheerleader, model and teacher of ethical behavior. Ethical behavior builds and maintains trust. In fact, to have trust in an organization requires that its leaders constantly act ethically.
- When trust is gone or severely damaged, it is replaced by fear, uncertainty and doubt.
- There is a strategy for sustaining trust which is sensible, constructive, purposeful and effective, but requires the systematic participation and example-setting through communication and behavior by leadership.
- These strategies include providing advance information about why we do things.
- Who trusts someone who provides key information after it’s needed? Other tactics to consider include:
III. The Ingredients of Effective Leadership:
Waging Peace Requires an Extremely Powerful Shift in
Management Thinking, Communicating and Behavior.
1. BE POSITIVE. Eradicate the use of negative words.
- Promotes calmness
- Reduces contention
- Settles people down
- Shows the power of respect
- Shows the power of trust
- Seeking agreement
The Consequences of Negative Language
- Anger trigger anger
- Insults spawn tougher insults
- Abuse authorizes abuse in return
2. BE CONSTRUCTIVE. Eliminate the use of criticism as a means of teaching, coaching or educating. Eliminate criticism and you make friends rather than critics, or worse.
- Criticism is always negative, always destructive, always remembered.
3. BE OUTCOME FOCUSED. Focus on tomorrow rather than yesterday. Yesterday belongs to everyone according to their own personal perspectives and perceptions. Work to build tomorrow together. Start discussing yesterday and tomorrow never comes.
- Be a person of tomorrow, rather than yesterday.
- The people who follow you want to know more about tomorrow than they do about yesterday.
- Understand the difference between the manager’s role and the leader’s role.
- Live in yesterday and you never will get to tomorrow.
4. BE PROMPT. Defeat critics, bloviators and bureaucrats. Reduce cost, reduce the production of victims and angry people, find out what’s going to happen sooner, make better mistakes next week.
- The greatest tool for changing cultures
- The greatest trigger for resistance within an organization
- The 20-30-50 Rule is always in effect.
- It takes a generation.
5. BE PRAGMATIC. Start where the truth begins. Get the getable, know the knowable, do the doable, achieve the achievable, find the findable, temper the overly optimistic.
- Pragmatism keeps our feet on the ground.
- Pragmatism as a habit allows us to quickly evaluate and reduce the expectations of ideas and potential solutions.
6. BE RELENTLESS IN SEEKING POSITIVE, INCREMENTAL, PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT EVERY DAY. Teach those around you, below you and above you to ask these questions of themselves every day.
- Your personal improvement and your ability to expect, coach and trigger personal improvement in others depends on how well you learn yourself from the day’s activities.
Leaders teach daily personal assessment strategies. Example:
Ask yourself the five crucial questions related to personal daily progress:
- What do I know now that I didn’t know when the day began?
- What’s the most important thing I learned?
- What’s the most interesting thing I learned?
- What questions arose today that will need answers by tomorrow, or sooner?
- What will I change tomorrow and do better based on what I learned from today?
Day’s End Progress Questions for Leaders
Leaders automatically ask themselves several questions at the end of each day. This is a discipline that will ensure that even your most frustrating day is rewarding and important for you or someone else:
- What leadership lesson did I learn today?
- How can I apply that learning to something I’m currently working on or something I want others to work on?
- How many times did I effectively repeat, restate, reemphasize and renew a rule, a guideline, an incentive, an instruction, a virtue, value or idea others needed to know more about to do their jobs better?
- What specifically did others learn from me today?
- How or what have I improved in some way for someone else today?
- How did my leadership improve today?
- Is my leadership the strategic, positive force that drives individuals, organizations, cultures and societies forward constructively every day?
- Am I being intentionally constructive, providing relentlessly positive approaches that help everyone?
- Am I sincerely interested in helping others have important, happier, more influential, constructive and successful lives?
IV. Waging Peace / Achieving Trust:
- Teach managers and those in charge to communicate in positive ways, change the language of management to simplify organizational goals.
- Institutionalize management commitment to lead the workforce toward the kind of behaviors the community is anticipating.
- Simplification leads to more positive outcomes and encouraging others to understand what’s required and what’s necessary.
- Understand what the community is expecting and commit to leading the workforce toward the kinds of behaviors the community wants to see.
- Revamp organizational infrastructure so that employees can access information and decision-making with more freedom and more certainty.
- Communicate in real time. Say less, but make it more important – but say it now. Once you’ve said it, write it down and disseminate it inside and outside the organization.
- Begin building community expectations and values in vision into the infrastructure of the organization.
- Let these important ideas that lead to peace, permeate the language of the day, the language of relationships between officers and their leadership, between officers and the community.
- This behavior – like all change behavior – starts at the top.
- Find ways to communicate promptly. Get the word out. Habitually detoxify rumors, foolish ideas and the mythology that gets in the way of good police work and good community relationship building, maintenance and repair.
- The most powerful tool for detoxifying situations and mitigation of contention is aggressive, prompt, positive, constructive communication.
V. Trust-Building Behaviors
- Provide advance information.
- What is trust?
- Most of us learn it from our mothers. It’s something that most of us inherently understand and recognize when we’re doing it – and especially when we’re not doing it.
- The biggest trust builder is providing information before people need it.
- The biggest trust buster is providing information people needed late, if at all.
- Trust begins internally.
- Asking for input. Troubled leadership often has so much on their plate they resist seeking other views, especially internally. Ask for input, rebuild trust in return.
- Relentlessly answer questions. Answering questions is the first requirement of leadership integrity. Answering questions is the most powerful tool leadership has to build trust. Questions answered settle people down. Questions answered help people refocus on what’s important.
- Trust is mostly built by answering people’s questions – questions you know they have; questions you know that they would like to have answered; questions that they’re afraid to ask.
- The power of answering questions – especially those that remain – is enormous.
- It is the most powerful tool leaders have to give evidence of their own integrity.
- Answering questions settles people down.
- Present police culture and a climate of fear decreases the willingness of employees as well as the public from asking questions.
- Really listen. Demonstrate that you have heard. Change something meaningful meaningfully.
- The proof of trustworthiness is making changes that are the result of someone else’s suggestions.
- Rather than a sign of weakness, making changes in your behavior, in your policies, in your procedures based on the suggestion of others is proof of leadership – and more importantly, proof of trustworthiness.
- Stay in touch. Most problem remediation strategies emphasize forgetting. Rebuilding trust requires that we remember.
- Get back to people.
- Stay in touch, even after the situation has been remediated or resolved.
- Checking back, when it appears you don’t have to, is again, an extraordinary act of leadership and of integrity.
- Speak their language. Tell stories that illustrate the behaviors expected of everyone including leadership.
- Bring audiences into the decision-making process, especially the victimized or otherwise harmed. These people need a platform to talk about their pain and suffering and who caused it. The result is trust or neutrality rather than anger and contention.
- But this isn’t police work . . . Yes, it is now – and will be for some time.
- A vigorous, ongoing, productively interactive approach to community relationships is essential to trust.
- The proof is in giving credit for changes, improvements of any kind, to those who actually suggested these improvements, ideas or helpful thinking.
- Remember what trust does. Trust actually acts as a neutralizing force in a relationship. Many things can remain unsaid in a good relationship, but in a relationship of trust, things that need to be said, get said. Questions that need to be asked, get asked. Answers that need to be derived and developed, get derived and developed.
- The ultimate effect is a feeling of comfort, a feeling of respect . . . all those things we’ve lost that need to be recovered.
Often one of the most serious ongoing challenges to building trust and ensuring positive relationships with your community and employees is what it takes to establish trust in the first place. It is by far easier to recognize the pattern of those behaviors and attitudes that damage trust, or at least bring credibility into question.
- If we want respect in the community, we have to be respectable.
- If we want to be trusted by the community, we need to act in ways that trigger a sense of confidence in those around us every day.
- We know who most of you are because you wear a uniform. We recognize and probably fear rather than respect.
- We need to look at that uniform and the perception it has among the citizenry and determine what is the impression we’re seeking.
- Remember when we talked about fear. Fear is the absence of trust. Fear is extraordinarily corrosive. Fear is an emotion that blinds and sometimes infuriates.
VI. Avoiding Trust-Busting Behaviors
Trust is fragile. Experience demonstrates that a bond of trust, once broken generally makes re-establishing a relationship tougher. The challenge is to identify those behaviors and attitudes to avoid that can fracture the bond of trust. These examples are generally pretty obvious, yet happen far too often:
- Arrogance: The absence of empathy. Taking action without consulting those directly or indirectly affected. Making decisions unilaterally, without important input from key partners.
- Broken Promises: One of the crucial bases of trust is that each party can rely on the commitments of the other, both implied and explicit.When those commitments are broken without prior notification, understanding, explanation, and warning, the first element of the relationship to suffer is trust. Losing the safety of commitment can call into question most other elements of the relationship as well.
- Chest Beating: The mindless, needless, and useless flogging of reputation, achievements. Unwarranted self-congratulatory, self-validating behavior puts distance between those who want to be trusted and those who need to trust. It is a form of self-deception through self-talk.
- Creating Fear: This usually occurs when something you do damages or threatens to damage someone’s core values without their permission, knowledge, or participation. It could be the appearance of deception; it could be the feeling of unreliability in the relationship.
- Deception: Misleading intentionally through omission, commission, negligence, or incompetence. In a relationship, deception creates a feeling of separation and distance. Deception also creates a sense of disappointment because the individual, product, company, or organization failed to recognize that, at the very least, there should be a sense of candor between the parties no matter what the circumstance.
- Denial: When mistakes are made, errors in judgment occur, a product under-performs, or there is a negative surprise, failing to promptly come forward and relate the circumstances candidly, with empathy for those who are affected, changes a relationship of trust into one of suspicion and caution.
- Disparagement: Any time you hear the phrase, “They have their own agenda,” or “He’s uninformed,” or “It’s politically motivated,” you immediately suspect that the exact opposite is true, and you’re likely to be right. All critics and opponents have friends elsewhere. Some of those friends are your friends as well. Victory is never achieved through disparagement. Disparagement causes suspicion, damages relationships, and creates permanent critics. Enemies accumulate.
VII. Seeking Community Forgiveness
Seeking Forgiveness is society’s requirement for relationship, trust, and credibility restoration. Adverse situations using this template are remediated faster cost a lot less, are controversial for much shorter periods of time, suffer less litigation, and help the victims come to closure more quickly. Obtaining forgiveness involves completing the nine steps below.
To achieve success in the shortest possible time, these steps should be completed as quickly as possible: like start them all today. Skip a step or be insincere and the process will be incomplete and fundamentally fail.
- Step #1
Candor: Outward recognition, through promptly verbalized public acknowledgement, that a problem exists; that people or groups of people, the environment, or the public trust are affected; and that something will be promptly done to remediate the situation.
- Step #2
Extreme Empathy/Apology: Verbalized or written statement of personal regret, remorse, and sorrow, acknowledging personal responsibility for having injured, insulted, failed or wronged another, humbly asking for forgiveness in exchange for more appropriate future behavior and to make amends in return.
- Step #3
Explanation (no matter how silly, stupid, or embarrassing the problem-causing error was): Promptly and briefly explain why the problem occurred and the known underlying reasons or behaviors that led to the situation (even if we have only partial early information).
- Step #4
Affirmation: Talk about what you’ve learned from the situation and how it will influence your future behavior. Unconditionally commit to regularly report additional information until it is all out or until no public interest remains.
- Step #5
Declaration: A public commitment and discussion of specific, positive steps to be taken to conclusively address the issues and resolve the situation.
- Step #6
Contrition: The continuing verbalization of regret, empathy, sympathy, even embarrassment. Take appropriate responsibility for having allowed the situation to occur in the first place, whether by omission, commission, accident, or negligence
- Step #7
Consultation: Promptly ask for help and counsel from “victims,” government, the community of origin, independent observers, and even from your opponents. Directly involve and request the participation of those most directly affected to help develop more permanent solutions, more acceptable behaviors, and to design principles and approaches that will preclude similar problems from re-occurring.
- Step #8
Commitment: Publicly set your goals at zero. Zero errors, zero defects, zero dumb decisions, and zero problems. Publicly promise that, to the best of your ability, situations like this will be permanently prevented.
- Step #9
Restitution: Find a way to quickly pay the price. Make or require restitution. Go beyond community and victim expectations, and what would be required under normal circumstances to remediate the problem.
Rules for Winning
- Refuse to be distracted.
- Bare down on your positive objectives.
- Consciously reduce the media’s influence.
- Control with positive power.
- Wage peace from the start.
Avoid Distractions . . . Including Irrelevant Questions:
- Why do people with no real credentials or expertise get credibility from the public, press and government?
- Why do we – who have expertise – have to keep proving ourselves?
- How is it that the more completely we explain something, the facts and data still get used incorrectly . . . and we get blamed for it?
- Why do reporters, public officials and experts get away with misusing the data?
- Will the media ever learn (do they even care)?
- Since we’ve devoted ourselves to resolving this terrible problem, don’t we deserve better than this?
- What’s the secret to convincing the unconvincibles?
- How much science/evidence is persuasive?
Avoid Killer Messages:
- Butt out.
- Don’t worry.
- The benefits outweigh the risks.
- It’s the precedent we can’t afford to fix.
- We’re only human; accidents will happen.
- Everything in life carries some risk.
- Your data is soft.
- Trust me.
- It’s the media’s fault.
- It’s only a few on the fringe who really care.
The Recipe for Failure:
- Lack of discipline
- Lack of preparation
- No concept of victory
- No will to win
How do we want to see ourselves? Millions already have an opinion and an impression.
- Adam 12
- Blue Bloods
- Law & Order Special Victims Unit
- Andy Griffith
Conclusion #1: You are in charge of your own leadership recovery.
Conclusion #2: The more simple, sensible, constructive, helpful, useful and positive actions you take on a continuing basis, the more rapidly your reputation will be recoverable.
Conclusion #3: What is happening to the police in this country are the things that tend to redefine the careers of leaders, including many in this room.
Conclusion #4: Beware of smart people using big words to make everyone look foolish and stupid. The community belongs to the people who live in it. What we’re seeing right now is the ability of the owners of the communities to take them back from forces, people and issues they don’t like – or that they fear.
It’s your destiny. Fail to save it, and someone else will redefine it for you.
The goals are:
James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus
If you have questions, or would like to dive more deeply into the subject of this blog, you can reach me 24/7 at email@example.com; 203-948-7029 (voicemail, email, text). I look forward, as a friend and colleague, to helping you achieve the objectives you’ve set for yourself for having a happier, more influential, successful and meaningful career.
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