Today’s public safety professionals face incredible challenges: from life and death situations to agitated citizens, from on-going public scrutiny to ever-changing laws, and rising expectations. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges public safety staff face is how to deal with the sheer volume of it all.
- The four characteristics of resilient leaders
- Effectively dealing with adversity
- Demonstrating behaviors that inspire followers
- Enhancing interaction with those you lead
- Creating a culture of organizational resiliency
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Ed, you’re a new presenter for our community. Tell us about yourself!
Ed: I’ve worked in the public safety field for more than 40 years. I became a firefighter and paramedic shortly after graduation from high school in the 70s. My father had been both a firefighter and federal agent, and following in his footsteps I also transitioned to law enforcement after being a member of the fire service. I went through the San Diego police academy in 1980 and served as an officer for the city and later as a deputy for the county and worked in a number of roles, functions, and assignments.
One interesting facet of my experience was as a post-blast investigator having been trained by both the ATF and FBI. In an era in which bomb threats and bombings were not uncommon, it was gratifying to work and train with experts in the field and to be able to pass that knowledge on to help others evaluate and minimize threats and risks. Through professional affiliations, this assignment provided the opportunity to connect with other members of the public safety community within the specialty from around the nation and the world.
I subsequently worked for the California Department of Justice in several capacities including as a Criminal Intelligence Supervisor. I enjoyed the cooperation and collaboration that existed as a member and coordinator of a joint federal, state, and local law enforcement group. Having varied perspectives from members of the team with diverse knowledge and experience aided in accomplishing goals and enhancing skill sets.
Throughout my career, I was interested in helping others and pursued training and education in counseling and related topics such as critical incident stress management and peer support. Upon completion of a doctorate in clinical psychology, it seemed to be a natural progression of my career to give back to the public safety professions by serving as a mental health clinician specializing in assisting members of the emergency services.
Resiliency is an innate characteristic that humans have
and can further hone through awareness and knowledge
that allows them to persevere in the face of adversity.
JCH: We’ve heard about a lot of types of leadership – transformational leadership, transactional leadership, servant leadership, crisis leadership, etc. Without giving the whole webinar away, what is Resilient Leadership?
Ed: Resiliency is an innate characteristic that humans have and can further hone through awareness and knowledge that allows them to persevere in the face of adversity. Into every life, some rain will fall and there are a number of ways in which we can each react and respond to such challenges. One way is to be “knocked off” by the difficulties encountered and suffer less desirable outcomes and diminished wellness. A much better way to respond is to develop and maintain a style that accepts and acknowledges hardships as inevitable occurrences that can not only be successfully overcome but also help strengthen a person’s fortitude by being able to move ahead.
Resilient leadership allows the concepts of resiliency to be taken to the next level beyond personal implementation to benefit others by modeling and applying the principles in a way that is likely to positively influence those exposed to the techniques. The various leadership models and theories all offer helpful information and contributions to the body of knowledge in their own right about how to be effective in leading others. What resilient leadership offers, besides the common core principles of leading, is how to do so in a manner that can be sustained over time while individual and organizational wellness is maintained concurrently with the effective accomplishment of goals and objectives. Without resilient elements as part of the leadership style, human factors may not be fully taken into account and can result in detrimental effects upon leaders and followers and ultimately produce decreased morale, motivation, loyalty, and productivity.
Developing and maintaining resiliency
should be something that all persons aspire to
if they seek to be successful in their personal and professional lives.
JCH: Why is resiliency becoming such an important topic today?
Ed: It is in the best interest of all parties concerned that the people who make up organizations, particularly public safety organizations, be healthy, well, and successful. If such people are not provided with the proper resources, guidance, and training they may become ineffective in performing their duties. Developing and maintaining resiliency should be something that all persons aspire to if they seek to be successful in their personal and professional lives. It is therefore essential that organizational leaders demonstrate and promote such characteristics in order to set the tone in a manner that motivates others to emulate such principles and practices.
Theories of management and leadership have evolved and will continue to evolve over time. Typically new ideas and approaches are borne out of necessity to solve problems and produce better outcomes. Resilient leadership can clearly be seen as a solution to the long-standing concern about how to maximize peoples’ effectiveness over time. Without a means to buttress one’s ability to bounce back after being beset with challenging situations, decision makers and those working for them can experience problematic and sometimes debilitating physical and psychological effects and consequences. Clearly, this can have a significant effect on the organization and its provision of services. Resilient leadership provides a means to maximize the likelihood that members of an agency at all levels effectively cope with adversity and have greater wellness and longevity.
The principles of resilience are active — not passive —
and therefore are well suited for integration
into the public safety professional’s repertoire.
JCH: You have a lot of professional experience in the justice and public safety profession. In your experience, why is resilience so important for Justice/Public Safety professionals in particular?
Ed: Simply stated, justice and public safety occupations are highly demanding. Life throws enough curve balls each person’s way that it is important to have skills that increase one’s ability to rebound from difficult and distressing situations just to maintain homeostasis. To add on top of those personal issues all of the challenging matters that public safety professionals are called upon to manage and potentially resolve creates a burden on the mind and body that necessitates tangible and specific countermeasures. The principles of resilience are active — not passive — and therefore are well suited for integration into the public safety professional’s repertoire. People can exercise more control in their lives than they may realize. Resilience provides the tools to allow every person to harness that ability.