Webinar presenter Rhonda Glover Reese answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Making the Roadmap Visible: Ascending to Leadership Roles in Law Enforcement. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: What was the name of that second video?
Rhonda Glover Reese: Here’s the link to the Youtube video, Yoann Bourgeois Performance.
Audience Question: You talked about having mentors. Should we have the same mentors throughout our careers, or do mentors shift and change, depending on where you are at in your career, your life changes, etc. And realistically, how many mentors should we have at any given point in time?
Rhonda Glover Reese: So, a couple of things. Mentors will change. And you’re going to have different mentors throughout your career. It just so happened that because I was with the FBI for 34 years I had a lot of the same mentors. Now when they retire, I got some new mentors and connected with different people. But if, you could have one mentor or you can have as many as nine, as it was clearly demonstrated when he. When we had that poll question. But the key thing is, is that you have a mentor. But you know mentors come and they go. Sometimes you have a mentor and you and they will be done with their mentoring, right? You’ve gotten everything that you can out of that mentoring relationship and there’s nothing wrong with that. Because when, you know, there’s a mutual split and there are things that you can do about. I mean, you know, you have that conversation. You have that conversation with the mentor. You want to continue to check in, but it’s an understanding that mentors are not going to be around all the time. They may not be able to serve you where you are. So, you have to get mentors that are going to be in a position to serve you.
Audience Question: Where or how do I even begin to start to find a mentor?
Rhonda Glover Reese: Well, a couple of things you too can do.
One, be on the lookout, you can be very quiet about it. You can just look around with the people that you’re working with. Who seems to be doing very well? Who seems to be moving up? Who seems to have all the answers? Have a conversation with them? Ask them out to get coffee and say, “Would you mind mentoring me?” “Would you mind us getting together?” If you want, we could do a sidebar conversation, so we could really strategize on it because I’d like to know where are you working because there’s an array of people in different positions on this webinar. And so, with varied backgrounds, the key thing is that’s where you start. You look, you’re looking, and you’re paying attention to the people that are around you. And even people that may not work there. There’s nothing wrong with connecting with people who work at another agency, who are doing some of the things that you’re doing, or they’re doing more. Look for people who are doing things that you want to do, and who are positioned where you want to be. Start there.
Audience Question: Do you think formal mentoring programs are as successful, or should we just naturally allow mentors and mentees to find each other and allow them to create those working relationships on their own? Are there pros and cons here?
Rhonda Glover Reese: Yeah, there can be some pros and cons. So, let me just go from my experience. I was part, I led a team of employees at the Bureau agents and professional staff, and we created the cross-cultural mentoring and sponsorship program. And we paired individuals with senior executives. So, just like the previous question about how to get a mentor. There are people that just don’t know how to get a mentor. There are people that are in senior-level positions, who do not know how to mentor. And so, we created this program to really cause a shift in what mentoring and sponsorship look like. And so, yes, it would be great if it were organic, that you would connect with someone that you know, or you connect with someone that you know, or you just kind of fall into it, because you work with them and all of those kinds of things. But for some people, it’s difficult. And that was some of the feedback that we received when we started the program. All mentoring should be organic, it should happen. It doesn’t happen for everybody like that. It should be both, there’s nothing wrong with having of formal mentoring program. I’ve created formal mentoring programs and I think that they are important. They’re incredibly important because they allow people to get into a space that they ordinarily would not be in. Just like it was very clear early on, there are people that do not have mentors. Now, there are varied reasons as to why they don’t. But I submit to you that the chance is they don’t know how to find someone. And so that’s why it’s important that you have a formal mentoring program that you have available for those who are interested in being in it.
Audience Question: How do you get clarity on what you want in terms of a career? Particularly for those who are mid-career and have been doing pretty well or are pretty comfortable in their career.
Rhonda Glover Reese: Well, the key thing. You see this is the thing we talked about, comfortability, we talked about being comfortable. And you can be very, very comfortable and happy where you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re interested in stretching, if you’re interested in going to the next level, then you want to really determine, you really want to understand who you are. And that’s one thing that you really have to do. You have to know what you want. What do you want to do, How, do you want to impact people? You may be in a supervisory position right now, but you don’t want to go any higher. You’re okay where you are because you see the impact that you’re making right there. And the same thing happened to me. I go back. I was the assistant Special Agent in charge I was number two in the state of Connecticut, and I wanted to go higher, but I was not able to do that. But I saw where I could make an impact. I saw where God wanted me to be, and that’s where I am now. It is helping people get out of their own way, helping people see where they want to be. Get to know who you are and get to know what you want out of your organization.
When you’re really not clear, think about coaching. Think about getting a coach. Think about getting someone to help you. And see that’s a thing, if you have a great relationship with your supervisor, that’s a conversation that you can have. Talking to your supervisor about what got you to where you are? What are some of the things that you did? And so those, those conversations, there’s nothing wrong with having those conversations with your supervisor, your leader. They should be doing that already. They should be having conversations with the people that they’re leading. They should be sharing that kind of information. But I do recognize that a lot do not.
Audience Question: So, does the “next level” necessarily mean moving up the chain of command?
Rhonda Glover Reese: No, absolutely not. No, it’s next level for you. The “next level” could be the next position. But next level could be you growing and doing better where you are. For example, when I was in New Haven, I was really prayerful about what I was going to do next, and what I was going to do in retirement. It became very clear to me that I was going to be a coach, and the reason why… I kept getting phone calls, that same day. When I asked a question, I kept getting phone calls from people who wanted to be mentored, they wanted to be coached. There were people that were calling, I need you to talk to my son, I need you to talk to my daughter. I need you to do this. And I knew right, then that I was going to be a coach. And so, I’ve worked on getting my certification to be a coach with a niche in career coaching. So, I got that, so I could continue to do better as a leader where I was. Right? All those resources that I shared with you, read some of those books or read any other books that you run across, that are going to help you do better where you are. So, if you don’t want to go higher, you don’t want to go to the next level of leadership in your agency. You can stay right where you are, but you can do better where you are. You can show up better where you are.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Making the Roadmap Visible: Ascending to Leadership Roles in Law Enforcement.