March 26, 2024

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Leading Up in Public Safety

 
Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all my friends in the emergency services. Today I’m talking about leading folks who are senior to you.

To “lead up,” don’t just blame your boss for shortcomings. Take ownership of the relationship and try to lead your boss in the right direction.

When we think about leadership, we usually think of it as coming from the top down. Generally, we’re expected to follow our bosses’ lead. But leadership is more complex than that. Influence can, and often should, flow both ways.

Let’s look at three examples.

First, a key moment before the Battle of Gettysburg. After identifying a large Confederate force, General John Buford didn’t wait for a command from his boss, General John Reynolds. Instead, he sent Reynolds a message: “Send up the infantry in the morning.” Reynolds trusted his subordinate and did just that, laying the groundwork for a Union victory.

Next, consider Winston Churchill. He tended to focus on details instead of strategic responsibilities. To keep Churchill on task, his army Chief of Staff Alan Brooke found that it helped to discus their military experiences in the First World War. These conversations created mutual respect, which allowed Brooke to influence and support Churchill. Their partnership is considered a crucial element in Britain’s victory in World War II.

Lastly, we have Lieutenant Commander Queeg, a fragile and paranoid character from the novel “The Caine Mutiny.” Rather than support and influence Queeg during a typhoon, his officers simply mutiny. Although the leader of the mutiny is acquitted, both his and Queeg’s careers are ruined. The officers are publicly reviled for failing to support Queeg when he needed them the most.

What do these three examples teach us? To “lead up,” don’t just blame your boss for shortcomings. Take ownership of the relationship and try to lead your boss in the right direction.

Are you a Buford or a Brooke? Or are you an officer on the Caine? The choice is yours.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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