After the Webinar: Actively Caring for People – 7 Principles. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Bobby Kipper and Dr. Scott Geller answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Actively Caring for People: Seven Principles for Criminal Justice Organizations. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: So, what are some of those titles of those books, Scott, that you just started talking about? We’ll jot them down and get those published on the Resource page for the audience.

Scott Geller:  Let me give you the website where you could purchase the AC4P books/manuals, and where you can also read a review of each of them. The website is I have some of those books behind me. For example, here’s the AC4P manual for police and justice personnel that Bobby and I coauthored, “Actively Caring for People Policing: Building positive police/citizen relations.” It’s just a little over 100 pages; but it explains and illustrates how police officers could promote a more positive, psychologically-safe culture. Here’s one for schools: “Actively Caring for People in Schools: How to cultivate a culture of compassion.” We’ve published research that shows how to reduce interpersonal bullying significantly by turning attention to positive consequences for acts of kindness rather than negative consequences for bullying. Then, we have one for parents and another for college students. I could go on and on, but if you just go to that website you can see each of these AC4P manuals/books and read a review of each one.


Audience Question: Bobby, you talked about how all employees are responsible for the agency’s culture. Then, what should the role of the leader be in establishing or reinforcing that?

Bobby Kipper: It’s a great question, and I really think that it has to start with the leader, but it doesn’t have to end with the leader. I think one of the things that we look for in leadership would be a leader that could set those values and the principles of the organization on the front end. We have a lot of people who really want to talk about leading other people in the right direction, but they don’t give them a roadway for those people to get on. In other words, what do you expect of your employees? I mean, what is it that you want from them, as far as the way that they are operating the way they are acting, behavior. I mean, it can all be set out ahead of time. I like organizations that basically make their values clear and really talk about, how they feel about all of their employees in the organization, making everybody feel important and treating everybody fairly. These are all things that leadership has to be stated on the front end and introduced to everybody. When the leader gets up and speaks, people need to respect the fact that he really believes in or she believes in doing equity in the right thing. So, I think is set at the top and I think they have to deliver those principles and values front end and keep notifying, keep reminding people of their principles as you go forward.


Audience Question: How can we get those wrist bands and is there a different color for different professions?

Scott Geller: For the public, they’re green. For police officers, they’re blue. The green wristbands are available at and they come in sizes for adults and children.

Bobby Kipper: For the blue wristbands, you can e-mail me directly at my e-mail address. I’ll make sure that we are able to provide you some information, on obtaining blue wristbands for police personnel.


Audience Question: Is there one or maybe two of the seven lessons that are more important than others, or if we had to pick our battles, should we focus on certain ones first?

Scott Geller: Well, I think feedback is essential. Practice alone does not make perfect; only with behavioral feedback can we improve. But we need to learn how to give and receive feedback. That COACH acronym for feedback is relevant for parents, school teachers, caregivers, or leader in any organization – Care, Observe, Analyze, Communicate, Help. So, giving behavioral feedback effectively is crucial, but I also believe in Lesson Number 7—reaching a level of self-transcendence—believing that the best we can be is to help others, as in servant leadership. What if we could spread that lesson around. What if actively caring for people (AC4P) became the norm, something we expect to happen from ourselves and others? It relates to the term interdependency. I see this self-serving challenge among my students. They come to the university with a mindset of independence; I got to do it myself. I say no way; we’re in this together. We can always help each other. All of us have different information, different knowledge; and by the way, the more diversity you have in a group, the more synergy you achieve. With synergy the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When those parts are different, and they help each other interdependently, we achieve synergy. And, the more different the interdependent parts, the greater the synergy.


Audience Question: How does informational justice relate to transparency? And certainly, Scott, if you have thoughts, you can certainly share too. But Bobby you’ve been talking about informational justice. How does that relate to transparency?

Bobby Kipper: Transparency is informational justice. First of all, a good example would be where you have opportunities existing within an organization, and only certain people know about them. I’ve seen that happen before, where there’s a promotion made, or there’s a job transfer made. Maybe for somebody from, maybe from uniform into investigations. And many people in the organization did not know that there was even an opening for that to be considered. And so, when people feel like they’re in a closet, they’re not really kept in the loop. This happens in organizations and I would like to admit, people say, we don’t know what’s going on, and nobody talks to us about what the process is. And so, not only do a promotional process, which has gotten better, but, especially for transfer and special assignments and things like that. I think there is a vacuum, not at all organization. And that’s why we really talked about informational justice that everybody is on the same wavelength. They all know what’s going on within the organization and nobody’s kept in the dark.

Scott Geller:  Transparency leads to psychological safety; these concepts hang together. These qualities are actually lacking in my organization. There are too many silos, too much win-lose, and too much competition rather than transparency and interdependency. How about your organization?


Audience Question: What a good point.  When I think about management and leadership so often, managers and leaders think that if they just say it once, the employees have heard the message. So, it leads into that conversation around internal communications, and not assuming the employees heard what you said the first time. Sometimes, an employee has to hear it again and again in order for the message to sink in. Scott, you’re nodding as if you’ve heard this story before about the importance of internal communication and repetition and over-communicating with our employees.

Scott Geller: Oh, yeah, and we also don’t just say it. We want to get them to react. It’s not top-down control. We need to hear from them, and sometimes they’re not listening because they are not part of the process. They don’t feel involved. I should say: They don’t feel part of the process. Psychological safety means they feel involved; they believe they are learning from and contributing to the organization, and they feel comfortable challenging management or the status quo.


Audience Question:  Having been in the trenches, as you have, Bobby could you share 1 or 2 ways that you think a law enforcement agency or probation agency could realistically implement these core lessons or core thoughts? And certainly, Scott, if you’ve seen a law enforcement agency, or prosecutor’s office,  implement some of these, that would be great, too.

Bobby Kipper: First of all, I really think it’s important to employ more positive consequences. And I think part of the consequences include that behavioral feedback. People want to be recognized; they want to be identified. I mean, part of our goal in life when we set out to do anything is to achieve. I’ve never met a person who has a job and said, I really don’t want to achieve here. I don’t want to move on, and I don’t want a pay raise. I don’t want a good evaluation. I think people want to be recognized for what they do, especially when they do it well. And I don’t think in a lot of the justice organizations that’s done. I think that we sort of wait, and we’re sort of passive about the way we pat people on the back. And I’ve been a party to that. I think we need to change that. I mean, I think it’s also the way we train our people who are leading or managing the people they need to know, that they’re not. They’re more than just managing behavior; they’re also coaching people to do the right thing. And I think that’s extremely important. I think one of the other important lessons is empathy. Sometimes we just fold our arms and say to ourselves: “It’s not my problem.”  When somebody is working in your command or working under your supervision, it is your problem, and we need to make sure that we understand that some people are hurting and need to be treated. They don’t need to just be in a silo by themselves. So, I think it’s crucial to be empathic as a leader, and let people know when they’re doing well.

Scott Geller:  The topic of self-motivation is relevant and critical here. Leaders need to know how to inspire self-motivation in themselves and among others. And, because anyone can inspire self-motivation or self-directed behavior, anyone can be a leader. So, how can we inspire self-directed or self-motivated behavior? As we discussed in the Webinar, and I emphasize in my 15-minute TEDx talk on self-motivation, promote and support those three C-words—Choice, Competence, and Community. Give people a perception of having some choice in the process to which they are contributing. Use supportive feedback to enhance one’s perception of being competent at doing worthwhile work, and promote and support an interdependent actively-caring-for-people (AC4P) culture.

Host: That’s that psychological safety that both of you were talking about earlier. That when an employee or officer doesn’t know what they’re doing, or isn’t sure, or can’t remember, they feel okay to go ask the question and not feel stupid or belittled. That’s great. I see how the whole thing connects.


Audience Question: How does psychological safety lead to or connect to relationship vulnerability?

Scott Geller:  Wow! Yes, psychological safety is all about building interpersonal relationships, is it not? It’s about connecting with other people. It’s about feeling a sense of community or belongingness. “I feel included; I believe I’m learning through my interactions with my colleagues; I believe I’m contributing to our mission; and guess what, I can challenge the status quo. If a manager is saying something I don’t quite get or I don’t agree with, I feel comfortable asking questions and even challenging that.” If you ask me, that’s about developing positive and productive interpersonal relations, isn’t it? We can talk about psychological safety between two people. Between you and one other individual: Do you have transparency, interpersonal trust, equity/justice, and empathy? All of these words connect not only to groups but also between two individuals, as a definition of a positive and productive relationship.


Audience Question: So, applying these seven principles that we’ve just been talking about. How do we handle a director who is a micromanager? How would we employ these seven lessons that you both of you have just taught? How do we help them or coach them to be different, or how do we as an employee react to that micro-manager and encourage them to be different?

Scott Geller:  Wow, that is a heavy question. That person is asking how to change their organizational climate or culture? How can we get to that manager who doesn’t seem to get it? Well, let’s start with empathy. Maybe he or she doesn’t know any better. S/he needs to be educated, which is not the same as training. Training with behavioral feedback comes after relevant education. We do have books, manuals, and articles that teach those lessons. That person, like many others, could be “unconsciously incompetent.” They just don’t know; and so, with empathy, we teach them, and share with them, the lessons we’ve talked about today. Just sit down with that person and ask, “May I share with you some of the leadership lessons I learned today, based on psychological science? They are not based on common sense, although it might feel like common sense; and if it does, that is good. These lessons have been demonstrated empirically to be the best way to build positive/productive interpersonal relations—the kind of positive culture we all want for interdependency and psychological safety.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Actively Caring for People: Seven Principles for Criminal Justice Organizations. 


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