After the Webinar: Rockin’ the Leadership Role. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar Presenters Drs. Ed Sherman and David Bond answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Rockin’ the Leadership Role: Lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: You talked about how communication is a pillar for effective relationships. How do we point out to a colleague, or a co-worker, or even a boss, who thinks they’re being clear, who thinks they’re a good communicator, but they really aren’t? 

David Bond: I’m going to go to the how question on there. I guess the soft approach, the soft opening, “Hey, I’m having a hard time understanding what you said,” or paraphrasing, “Let me see if I understood what you said, you said, A, B, C, and D, is that what you were saying?” Oftentimes, if a leader is unclear, “Yeah. That’s exactly what I said.” Then ask, “How would you like me to get that accomplished? How did you see that happening?” So, asking maybe a how a question would be right. First, flush, it’s not aggressive, it’s more assertive. If it’s your boss or a significant other, it comes across much more that I’m listening, I’m just not sure I get it. And so, you’re kind of asking the how instead of the why question that we’ve talked about. So that’d be my first thing.

Ed Sherman: Yeah. So, I think that is a great idea, David, and I’ll build upon that to say, invite people to participate in the conversation. If we enter into it by stating our viewpoint or asserting something strongly, their reaction or response could be one of closing down or possibly even defensiveness. So, if we’re trying to promote the communication If we start with as you’re saying, David, by asking the other party, “What do you think about this? How can we approach this? What is your idea about this?” Now, the tricky part is going to be if what they say is 180 out from what you’re proposing or what you’re thinking is not to telegraph that in your body language or in your speech and say that that is incorrect because again, you want the collaboration piece. You would like to work with the other person. You would like to build consensus. Now, again, understand, that when there’s a power differential, and you’re talking to your boss for example, it’s a little bit difficult to kind of no use the manner as though it is a peer-to-peer. But I believe that you still can do that. And they’re going to expect that you’re going to take a particular position. You’re going to expect that they’re going to take that position. If you can get away from sort of that figurative arm wrestle and shift to, “Let’s work together to find solutions,” I think there’s a better chance that it will be success.

David Bond: Sorry, just one more thing. Take a look at the styles of conflict management, whoever asked that question, I think it’s good for everyone. Everyone comes across conflict a little bit differently, and when you’re aware of what your skills are, and what other people might be, you might be able to come to a better understanding of how they’re looking at the issue.


Audience Question: You mentioned communication styles, and you touched on those again. Are there assessments out there to help us identify what our communication styles are?

David Bond: The personality and I guess communication styles that the personality that we’re talking about is that DISC. The Dominant is kind of a bigger picture. Just give me the big picture of it and let’s move forward. The Influential is more people-focused. How is this going to be a good thing for all of us around here? The Steadfast, steady as she goes. What are the rules, what are the policies or the procedures? Let’s not change anything until we have all the information, and even then, let’s not change everything. Then the Conscientious is very detail-oriented. And I’ll give you this example, if you opened up a new computer, the dominant would rip it open and plug it in. The conscientious would slowly open it up, read every direction, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, everything because it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t ——. Very detail-oriented. Steadfast would be, “Hold on before we do anything. What’s the process?” And the influential will be like, “Hey, let’s make this into a game, but let’s have fun with it and who’s going to start playing a computer game first?” So, that is great, if you don’t know your personality at work. Most of the time it works, That would be a great start. And you can get that online. You can do something probably for free online and get a pretty good idea of what it looks like, and what your team looks like. Or you can hire folks to come in and give you that personality assessment first. There are many others too, I’m not making any money off of DISC. That’s just something that I enjoy.

Ed Sherman: Yeah, I was just simply going to add that last point that you made, which is don’t be put off by the fact that some of these things are things that are used by clinicians or practitioners. Many of them are available to anybody who wants to use them. Many people within the HR realm use these assessments and so forth. So, do a little research, do a little scouting around, do your own homework, and see what meets your requirements, fit your need, and so forth. But there are training classes in person and online for any of these things. So, there’s a lot of good information out there, on how to utilize these tools.


Audience Question:  Do you find that these communication styles and personality types evolve over time, or are they pretty much the same over time? 

Ed Sherman: Well, I would say that… So, let me make a distinction here between personality and behavior, and I think what we would say, and I’ll be interested in what David’s comments are on this. Generally, it is believed that personality characteristics are enduring, whereas behavior is something that can be changed, it’s not always easy to change. So, thankfully, in in the world as change agents, as David and I are, in much of what we do, we plant seeds, and we offer ideas. People who are ready to change and willing to change may accept those things and may be able to move forward with them. So, their style, their personality may remain the same, but they could be open to changing their behavior, to doing something different. And, so, it is always, or I encourage people to at least try if you think there’s some value to be gained by suggesting new ideas and new approaches. But I will say that if you do not get the reaction or response that you hope for, there are levels of readiness to change. Some people are completely ready and open to change. Some people are contemplating change. And some people may be in the state of thinking, “Hey, I’m good, I’m fine, there’s no problem with what I’m doing, why should I change?” So, don’t get put off by that, and just recognize those differences may be there but people definitely have the capacity to change.

David Bond: Totally agree with that, and in situations, I think you have a choice to evolve to learn. You’re here for this hour, on your own time, your own valuable time, taking this and hopefully picking some things up, using this to jumpstart some other research. There are thousands of people out there that aren’t doing this, though, right? They are happy, just the way they are. I kind of look at it as, some people are surrounded for change by Styrofoam, and they can push easily through it. Some people have chain link fence and other people have reinforced concrete and rebar in there and they’re just not going anywhere. It’s what you can do as a leader. That’s how I look at what you can do, and how you can modify. You may be a high D, you may be a high C, but in your capacity as a leader, you can modify that. It may be your default, It may be your default, just like Ed said. But you can, your behavior can change. You can be a situational leader when you’re talking to someone here, you can share it in a way that you think is best for them to take it in and to follow that direction or to collaborate. And then you can change that by someone else. And I would say, think of it as a brand-new officer. Let’s take a brand new officer, just out of the Academy. You’re probably going to share something different with them instead of maybe a 10-year seasoned or nowadays it’s a three-year season veteran there. So, you’re going to share that a little bit differently because they have different experiences and different knowledge bases.


Audience Question: What are some tips for supervising somebody I just don’t like? 

David Bond: I think anyone who’s been a supervisor for a minute has probably had this same concern, the same issue. And this is how I would come in from, you know, quite a few years now of therapy, and working with a lot of people that, when they come in, they’re struggling with co-workers, they’re struggling with people in their lives, as Karen says, they just don’t like. And two things. And this is going a little political on you, sorry about that, Karen, and everyone else. But we tend to see in others what we don’t like in ourselves, and it’s not necessarily the actions, it’s the emotions underneath it. So that would be my first thing is to check, are we seeing them with maybe some traits that we don’t like ourselves? So that would be the first thing that I would, I would think about it, is, check on that. And here’s the other thing. As a supervisor, let’s just talk about work right now, not outside of work as a supervisor you want to be as congruent as possible in your role. You’re not your biases at work, or not your liking, you’re not your dislikes at work. You are congruent. And I like to use actors and actresses, and big movie people. When Denzel Washington plays The Equalizer. I believe he can do all that stuff that he does, and spoiler alert. I won’t tell you about the movie, but he’s such an incredible actor, whatever he plays, I believe in that. And so, if you stay in your role as a supervisor, whether you like or dislike that person, doesn’t really matter as much. It’s what’s best for the team what’s best for the agency and what’s best for the employee. Very, very hard to do, because you’re kind of suspending that feeling that you have underneath there, but I would say, try those two things, that would be my take on that.

Ed Sherman: So, I will, I will mention the quote that many of us will have heard and I will paraphrase it from Robin Williams, who said, “Be kind to others because we never know what struggles they’re dealing with.” And as a supervisor, you may know, and if it’s appropriate, there may be times when you can inquire or ask about that. But it goes back to the thing, we just may not know the reasons for their behavior. Now, I understand that doesn’t necessarily make it easy, even if we do know the reasons, but we can have a little bit more empathy, but the fact of the matter is, as David has said, we do not have to love them. We don’t even have to like them, necessarily, but we do have to have respectful interaction with them, not only as a peer in the workplace, but definitely, and specifically as a supervisor or leader.


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