After the Webinar: In Search of Excellence. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Dr. Kimberly Miller, Tina Buneta, Chief Doreen Jokerst and Cheif Deanna Cantrell answered a number of your questions after their presentation, In Search of Excellence: Lessons on Leadership, Life and How to Empower Female Leaders to Rise. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: What books or articles would you recommend women to read further, to reflect on how to progress in their careers? 

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Who wants to go first? I know all of you have suggestions so we’re going to let all of you go. Tina?

Tina Buneta: Brene Brown, Dare to Lead.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Perfect. Deana?

Deana Cantrell: I would say, you know, I just finished Mindset by Carol Dweck and so, I will say, that’s a great book.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Perfect, Doreen?

Doreen Jokerst: There was a couple for me. I know they had mentioned The Strength Finders book. I think that helps intrinsically as well, and emotional intelligence. I really like the book, Lean In. I actually really like the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People. Communication for me is something I continue to work on, because I come across maybe too direct at times. I actually learned a ton from the book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. There are reasons why it’s still on the bestseller list and when I talk to employees, whether communication style’s a little abrupt, or they come across curt or terse, when they speak, I pass out that book in our organization because I think it’s extremely important when it comes to communicating with people and really trying to get to the end result.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: I am, I have too many, I don’t want to overwhelm y’all ’cause I’m going to get to a bunch of questions. But I will say this one: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. All of the amazing women talked about that today, be an outlier. Take a risk. Be yourself. Be authentic. Don’t dim your light. Don’t try to fit into a box, So that’s one. And as the other one that I super love is Blink, that’s another really, really good one. I have a thousand more. But I was trying to think two that would be really different than the ones that were brought up. So, reach out to all of us. We can give you all the whole list of other things.



Audience Question: So, the next question I recently applied and did not secure a position as an acting assistant manager. What is the best advice to move forward from the loss and prepare for the next or opportunity to move up? 

Tina Buneta: If possible, seek feedback. Get feedback whether it’s from your assessors, just be open to the feedback. I found that that was incredibly helpful when it was provided. It gave me insight into seeing myself, through someone else’s lens, and it alerted me to areas where I could develop myself further. So, seeking feedback would be the first thing I would advise you to do.

Deana Cantrell:  I’ll just jump on that for a second and, say that seek the feedback for sure, but don’t take it too personally. You know, don’t let it wreck you. Because you may look at your way in one light and other people may see you in another and so, you take it for what it’s worth and let it sink in. And then go out and make the changes that you think are meaningful, you know, that you need to make in order to be what your organization is looking for if you need to make those changes.

Doreen Jokerst: I was just going to add, when you’re seeking that feedback, to their points, make sure that you’re open-minded with it, without taking it personally. I think it’s really challenging. All of us, I’m sure, myself included, have been passed up on a promotion. If I would’ve sought that feedback immediately afterward, I probably wasn’t in the best headspace because I really thought I should have gotten it. That’s the reason why I put in. I think a true sign a character, too, is not what happens when everything’s going your way in the successes but what you do with it when you don’t get it.  I would say make sure that you’re in the right mindset back to Deana’s point. Also, understand that when that feedback comes in, they’re going to have different perspectives. We’ve all seen the graph, where it’s a six, but depending on how you look at it, did this person see it as a nine? Did this person see this as a six? Because their perceptions are going to be different on that. But I would see what that looks like and then try to diversify even more different assignments or different opportunities, or special projects that might come about to understand things from a different lens, as well.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Perfect. So, I’ll just add a couple of things real quick. Number one, and I hope that this is a rare thing and that there’s nobody on this call that has experienced this now. So, my one caveat is to never compromise your character to get a position in a toxic environment. Because there is something to be said to be open to feedback and be willing to moderate yourself and do what needs to be done. But if you happen to be in a toxic environment, maybe you don’t need to moderate yourself, maybe you don’t need to change things, because you don’t want to get a position in a toxic, unhealthy environment for you.  The second thing I’ll say is really more about if you sit on a panel where you are assessing, If you’re doing that, number one, make sure you have objective measures you’ve talked about ahead of time, and it’s not your opinion because that happens way too much. Second, if you’re an assessor, or you’re a decision-maker, that doesn’t give somebody that promotion, give them valuable, constructive feedback. Don’t say things like, oh, man, it’s not your time, or I don’t know, they just didn’t really like you. Not helpful. Too many times, I hear from men and women who get passed over, they don’t get any valuable feedback. They don’t get a positive critique. Or they’re just beaten up with the feedback they get so they can’t hear it. So, if you’re ever one of the ones, that’s in the position of an assessor or a decision-maker, make sure that it for the people who aren’t successful, help them know how to do better next time.



Audience Question: What skills do you use to not take attacks personally? 

Dr. Kimberly Miller: So, Doreen, I’ll have you start with Doreen.

Doreen Jokerst: Great, well, I love the name. I love it. You know, that’s really challenging. And I think that comes with kind of how we talked about not getting into your own head, and that we have sometimes the worst conversations with ourselves. And so, it’s just one of those things that you have to look objectively. But when I look at those comments, I try and figure out where are they coming from with this and why do they think that? Is there something that I do that I’m not really aware of that I do? And so, it’s determined them to have this perception. Is there something I need to change? At the end of the day, as we discussed, there’s going to be people that agree with you and like the things you say, and at the end of the day, there’s going to be people that don’t agree with you. I don’t doubt since I’ve been the chief up here, there have been decisions I made that people are like, hey, that’s amazing and other where people are like, what is she doing? And so, I just think you have to look at those objectively and figure out, is there a perception issue? Or something that I can better reframe or better educate on? But I just think that comes with time, but as you promote and go through with an organization, you definitely have to have thick skin. I say it’s lonely at the top when those things happen. Sometimes people do try to take personal jabs just to bring you down, and I just say, you stay true to who you are. I always tell my husband; I just need to be able to sleep at night. So, I make decisions that are sound, within the best interests of the community, organization and the staff that we have because we would never achieve any of our goals if we didn’t have people that did not feel safe and secure in their positions to execute on those goals as well.  I do think it’s challenging, but don’t be too hard on yourself and beat yourself up over it.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yes, Deanna.

Deana Cantrell:  I would say also Doreen talked about it, she just didn’t say the word mindset but that’s exactly what it is. Mindset is about looking inward and not pointing to blame outward, not saying, well I don’t control what they do. So, I’m just not, you know. I don’t control how they looked at me. I said earlier that you do control your reputation. You may feel like you don’t, but you can. You can certainly influence that, you can certainly influence the way that people view you and perceive you. That is what you do and how you interact and how you communicate and all of those things. And so, when taking that feedback, the way that it doesn’t beat you up and having that mindset of, hey, I’m not perfect and I’m not everybody’s cup of tea either, right? But I will adjust. If I was asked, what my leadership style is I would tell you, it’s adaptable because you have to adapt to different situations. Every different people have read different situations, and you have to, you know, which means you have to communicate differently than people. Some people need this and that. When you take that feedback and understand that perception, but there are also is usually some kind of truth to show that perception as though it is something you’re doing. And look at it as, hey, great, I got this feedback.  It’s something that I can change, or well fine if it is not a toxic environment, like Dr. Miller just mentioned, if it, if it is things that, you know, you can work on and want to work on, I think, being open to that and understanding you control it. You control you, and you decide who you’re going to be and what you’re going to be and so I think that’s part of it.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Tina, do you have anything you want to add?

Tina Buneta: I think, just to reiterate the importance of having that network of support like external to the work environment, people who will be honest with you about your experience, and maybe sharing that feedback with them and allowing them to help you through digesting that feedback so that you know how to what to apply and what to not apply to yourself. Additionally, I learned to figure out a very valuable lesson at the moment, one time I applied for a promotion and did not receive it. The person who received the promotion, I went to their promotion ceremony. I applauded them. I congratulated them. And a mentor of mine, Jim Wolfinbarger came up to me after and I had no idea he was paying attention to me, but he said, I just want to tell you how proud I am of you for doing this and you have to know that in that moment of disappointment, there are more eyes on you than there are on the person who received the promotion. So, you have at that moment, you can be bitter or better. So, choose wisely but just know that your graciousness to Deanna’s point of controlling your reputation will go a long way.

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Beautiful, Tina. Thank you.



Audience Question: What advice would you have to get females to support each other in the department and to stop cattiness, negative competitiveness, and judgment? 

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Which of you want to take this? Because I know all of you have an opinion.

Deanna Cantrell: I’ll start. I think and I tell you this from experience when I was in Arizona and I think I was probably about the commander role I started really ??? and it’s about when I started mentoring people and paying more attention to be more intentional about leadership, is what I started really noticing it and thinking, I have a role in this.  I was at one point the highest-ranking female and a female friend of mine said, it’s important that we ????? few in that role. And then I was like, oh my gosh, I have a bigger role. I have a bigger responsibility than I thought I had. I have a responsibility to all these women, right, in my organization. So, what we did is, we got a few women together and we went to the Academy, and we would start there. And we would get all the women when they were on a break, because, God forbid you to pull them out of the classroom, and then that becomes a female thing and so we got all the females that were there. We talked to them and told them, hey, this is who we are, and this is what we’re about, and this is what we won’t accept from each other. This is how you are going to interact with one another. We are there for each other. We support each other. We uphold each other. We reach back and help one another. We mentor each other. All of those things and so telling them this is who we are, and this is who you will be in this organization and then creating those mentorships early on first thing when they come into the Academy with another female. Starting there and then creating all those mentorships throughout the organization. We started an organization called AZWIN which is Arizona Women’s Initiative Network, and I know there are some women from Arizona, I looked at the list from here, and if you aren’t familiar with it, you should look it up AZWIN that was created to retain, recruit, hire, train more women in policing and so having those, Doreen talked about it, not even knowing about some of the female organizations, and oh, why did they exist. We do have all males. Well, what’s different for women. In all organizations, not just policing. I think setting that culture, especially if you have a high-ranking female, like here the three of us, we have a role and responsibility in getting that culture for the women in our organization.

Doreen Jokerst: I would just add to that, if I may. I agree with everything Deanna just laid out. I would say for the person that asked this and other people on a phone call is number one. Don’t take part in it. It’s not easy when people get around and they’re like, did you see what she did over there? And before you know it, you’re caught up in this little thing and it’s certainly going downhill. Don’t condone and don’t partake in it. Dr. Miller gets to hear her compliment again but since I’ve been in this role, I was able to meet Dr. Miller and for me, it’s been great and I told her yesterday, I said, you are so great. You remind me of the female that fixes somebody’s crown without telling everyone she had to do it.  I think that’s great. I constantly reach out to her and say hey, I have something going on here. What do you think about this? Because she is going to bring in a different perspective without telling everyone, you’ll never believe Doreen just called me on this, how does she not know this and what does this look like? And so, I say surround yourself with strong women who are going to fix somebody’s crown without telling everybody that they had to. Don’t condone or partake because sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in those little mills before you know it, you’re in it. And two, in leadership roles, you should be setting that culture. In law enforcement right now, the national average for female commissioned officers is between 11 and 13%. My organization is currently at 19% and still growing. So, I think it’s great. I applauded as well. And so, it’s one of those things that you reach out as mentors, and you talk to people, but you don’t partake in any of those because sometimes women are the worst to other women. I had made a comment one-time that’s almost like they eat their own. Like, they just go in, and they’re stricter and hold to different expectations that are sometimes not even obtainable for somebody. And so, I say just be the friendly face out there and don’t condone or partake in any of that and then help set culture to if you’re in a toxic culture within your department.

Tina Buneta: So, everything that Deanna and Doreen said, so I’m not going to reiterate that, it’s all very well said.  I would just add. So for me, when I became aware of it, it was kind of an epiphany and I realized that the reason women are doing that to one another is that because we’re trying to fit in. We’re trying to fit in with the men and so we’re trying to be one of the men. By joining in on those implicit bias and stereotypes and how, you know, and we’re competing with each other for that, like, slot of acceptance, because there are so few in our mind, right? So, we’re doing that. Once I became aware of that, and then I was able to kind of articulate that to others helping with that self-awareness within a female group is important, but, again, it just drives home to set the standard, set the expectation, and do not allow that to occur in under your domain.



Audience Question: What is the top advice you would give to a brand new 20-something female police officer? 

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Tina, I’m going to start with you on that.

Tina Buneta: So, as a mother to 20-somethings, I think that you are on the verge of, it’s like you’re entering this industry, you’re entering your career at a really unique time. So, if I were you, I would just pay attention to the climate and the world and just know that you can stay true to who you are as a female. With your female strengths and know that there is the world is calling out for them right now. And so, if you feel like you have to stifle yourself, just be patient because it’s coming. As women, I’m here to tell you, we’ve been preparing our whole lives for this moment in time. So, hang in there. You’re going to be great and congratulations.

Doreen Jokerst: I had to reflect on that question because I thought it was actually a really, really good question. I would say, I wish I would have changed sooner. I wish I would have figured out these things sooner. I wish I would have reached out to a mentor and different female organizations sooner. I did not know about them. So, I would advise, number one, if they don’t have a mentor, to reach out and try and get one that can help them with these paths. Number two, to look inward and not feel like you have to fit the mold because police work is changing. It’s evolving, and there’s a call for change. So, see what that looks like and definitely be a part of that change moving forward and don’t feel like you have to fit in. This world is created on people that think differently and are different. I think that’s great and that’s really what has propelled it moving forward. So constantly challenge the norms, look for different solutions when things come about. But take the advice now and figure out, hey, what are some of the things that I can do now that I don’t have to do later, that I learned today, that I can input right away?

Dr. Kimberly Miller: Perfect, Deanna, bring us home?

Deanna Cantrell: I would say everything that Tina and Doreen said I think is so smart and the only thing I would add to that, you don’t sell yourself short. You know, there’s all those the confidence gap Doreen brought it up. If you Google it, lookup, competence gap and it’s the one that says something about Atlanta and click on that one. It’s a compilation of a whole bunch of different studies about women and gender differences and gender gap and that kind of thing. And so, I would say, look at that, it’s really, really good. When I say don’t sell yourself short, is, you know, don’t make your own last doing for yourself, meaning put your name in the hat. You know, there’s a study about if you needed 10 job criteria, criteria to put in for a job, men will only need to be six. And they’re like, yeah, I mean, I’m solid I’ll throw my name in the hat. What’s the worst that could happen? I get told no, who cares. Women, we are our worst enemy. We have to meet all ten and if we only meet nine and a half, we weren’t even put in. Like, no, I meet nine and a half. I can’t. I’m not qualified. It is not true and so you have that confidence in yourself. Put your name in the hat. Even if you go through, and you and you don’t get the job, you got great experience in the process. Right? You studied hard. You learn new things Doreen talked about, I think, in the beginning. And so, I would say that. Don’t sell yourself short. Put your name in the hat, and work hard, super hard, because everybody is looking at you. You’re a different blade of grass. You’re a blade of grass that’s picked up a little higher than others, because you’re other looking, right. And just because of that, people, are going to notice to you, and pay more attention to your successes, and your failures more importantly. So, you know, I think that’s what I would add, to it, but really well said.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of In Search of Excellence: Lessons on Leadership, Life and How to Empower Female Leaders to Rise.  


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