After the Webinar: Five Things Highly Effective Leaders Can Do During Turbulent Times. Q&A with Jonni Redick

Webinar presenter Jonni Redick answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Five Things Highly Effective Leaders Can Do During Turbulent Times.  Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Can you address the importance of understanding and establishing a sound delegation strategy and intentional planning? 

Jonni Redick: Delegation will be extremely important for you, especially in leadership, because so many things will need to be done. Unfortunately, one of the barriers to delegation is control. Depending on what rank you are, we frequently don’t delegate very well, and that’s part of our leadership that we need to practice and plan. For example, we know if we have large-scale incidents, for most of us, in our agencies, we know there’s going to be a component where we have specialized teams and massive resources that will come out. We also know the regular role-players we’ll need to have, such as our public information officer and other various roles and responsibilities. But what are some of the functions that maybe we’re not thinking of that we can delegate to staff daily that build their leadership and readiness for those turbulent times. Remember, delegation helps to build leadership in our people, and it helps us be more efficient. Delegation is a very effective strategy for leaders. 


Understanding how you define turbulence versus a crisis will be necessary. What is the situation, and what would you want to delegate? The best way to think about planning is to list all the tasks or responsibilities that are required of you in your role or the situation. Then assess what you need to handle. Consider what’s required of you to do and for those things that are not necessary, you delegate and now build into a team member to grow their leadership experience. The delegation includes making sure to have monitoring and follow-up. You can accomplish daily opportunities with your teams at varying intervals or checkpoints, starting with small-scale things. For example, daily news headlines, or even internal communications, create opportunities to use as scenarios for your “what would you do in this situation” leadership practice for yourself and your teams. Through the process, you’re building competency, confidence, and capacity for you and your team as you build trust, resilience, and more effective ways to respond. By practicing frequently, you’re also assessing their readiness for this type of responsibility and yours. Therefore, when something does come up, you know that these are the people you’re going to use to get the work done, and they will be better prepared. In closing, this is a general framework. 


Let go of the idea of control you have as a leader, develop by delegating, and daily practice creates preparation. 


Audience Question: Could this also be an opportunity to create more cross-functional or to cross-train certain individuals? So, they may not necessarily be the primary person, like the PIO, for example, but you maybe train a few of your senior lieutenants to start giving them those skill sets so that they had the ability to take some of the workload off of the chief or the captain or whoever. 

Jonni Redick: Absolutely. Especially in small agencies, you guys are probably cross-trained to do everything, wearing hats all the time. In larger agencies, you’ve got enough people where several individuals versus a few handle assignments. Whenever I oversaw a unit or division, I’ve always found the breakdown of knowledge and efficiency when the person is not there, whether it’s for vacation, illness, or vacating the position. Cross-training was essential to make sure that people had a fundamental understanding of the work and the mission we were doing, and there were backups to step in when needed. Operationally efficiency is critical to the work’s mission at all levels and for many positions within the organization. Remember, you need to establish those backups through your cross-training and be inclusive of everybody when you’re training; it shouldn’t be siloed for just a few. Strained resources make it almost a requirement for some form of cross-training. In these situations, I would recommend aligning the responsibilities so it’s not such a stretch for the person who is burdened with all the tasks. Additionally, often, people love their “kingdoms,” and they may have been doing the work for a very long time. Still, it creates inefficiency and disruption unnecessarily if you don’t have a plan in place for when they leave voluntarily or involuntarily. 



Audience Question: A lot of officers are still reluctant to seek out mental health assistance or mental health support. What more can be done, what more can be said, despite so many people saying, it’s important, and it’s okay to get help. What more can we do? 

Jonni Redick: A critical question. I will tell you that I think being vulnerable and transparent at higher levels of leadership within the organization will speak volumes to your staff. If we show that we are also experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, effects of the cumulative trauma, we are standing in our truth with theirs. We as leaders need to be vulnerable enough to talk about the difficult moments and our personal healing response and approach out loud to our personnel, not just in a room with a friend. We have chosen leadership. It’s not easy; it’s very hard. But we call ourselves role models, so we must be willing to lift the veil, unarmor, and model more of what can look normal when we talk about needing clinical assistance through therapy. 


It’s time to bring those conversations from the dark into the light. I know I would advocate for my personnel to seek out counseling, peer support, or therapy with clinicians as I had seen its value through the change in those who did use them. However, I didn’t seek counseling after a critical incident involving the loss of one of my officers for over a year. I’m no longer ashamed to mention it, but it has been almost ten years. Coming on in the late 80s and early 90s, we didn’t have the services we have now, which are still growing, and more work is needed. Although I went to see a clinical psychologist a year later, I changed my therapist after seeing one of my officers coming to see the same therapist. They didn’t know that I saw them, and it remained confidential that they were there. But I immediately reverted to my earlier years of “Suck it up, go out there and just do your job,” repeating in my thoughts. I didn’t want my officers to think I was broken or weak as their commander. I grew up conditioned in a paramilitary organization that did not focus on employees’ mental health at that time in the late 80s and early 90s. We didn’t have employee assistance programs resources like there are now or peer support with care and concern. We just didn’t talk about it. What I have learned through my leadership journey is being transparent and vulnerable is the best model of “support” we can give to our people. It speaks to the heart of our leadership service through empathy, more effective communication around mental health, and the courage to implement real programs, services, and assistance. 


Audience Question: Could you repeat the name of those couple of books that you mentioned earlier? 

Jonni Redick: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” Chip Heath and Dan Heath. “Futuring: The Exploration of the Future” by Edward Cornish.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Five Things Highly Effective Leaders Can Do During Turbulent Times.




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