There are professional standards for so many things… even within the justice profession. But very few of our professional standards involve setting expectations regarding the character of the people who serve and protect our communities.
Join this recorded webinar as Ray Nash is back to discuss building leadership standards that
- Establish the Standard
- Embrace the Standard
- Encourage the Standard
- Embody the Standard, and
- Enforce the Standard
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Ray, you’ve been in the justice profession for a long time. How have you seen management and leadership evolve during that time?
Ray: There was a time in the evolution of our profession (as well as the culture at large) where character could be somewhat taken for granted. Virtue was integrated within most all of our social institutions. But a shift took place where we stopped promoting good character. We focused instead on education and professionalizing our police forces, often called the Professionalization Era of Policing. Consequently, we have very well-trained officers who often don’t have the internal fortitude and moral foundation to make ethical decisions when confronted with stress or temptation.
As we get deeper into the Community Policing Era, the focus has shifted to the importance of building trust-based relationships with the community as an essential component of our crime-fighting efforts. Trust flows from a combination of character and confidence. Both are important. But out of the two, character is the MOST important. So my efforts have been to promote principles that integrate the character component back into our management and leadership strategies. The E5 webinar will touch on five important aspects of this effort.
The best leaders are those who take care of their people,
knowing that if they do that, their people will take care of them.
JCH: Your topic is really about an agency establishing standards. What are the biggest mistakes agencies make when discussing, proposing or managing standards?
Ray: Almost all professional standards found within justice-sector agencies are performance, behavior, or achievement-based standards. Frightfully few of them are genuinely character-based. We have ethical rules of conduct, but they are all behavior-based — you do this or you don’t do that. Character is the inward motivation to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances or regardless of the costs. It springs from the heart, not from actions. So we are taking the concept of ethics and taking it to a much deeper and personal level: the internal motivations of the heart.
This is much more challenging than merely having a list of rules to follow. We have to reach below the surface to make a connection at a deep, gut-level in order to impact behavior long term. It’s been said that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. But I think character is the best indicator of future behavior. So if we can implement principles on an organizational level that encourage and promote good character, we can impact future behavior on a large scale. In the E5 webinar, we will specifically address the need and process of implementing character-based standards within an agency.
JCH: You talk a lot about leadership types of topics… what leaders shaped your own leadership style over your career?
Ray: I have certainly had the opportunity to mentor under great leaders who I respected greatly. I have also seen many failures that have served as powerful lessons of what not to do. But I get much of my personal inspiration from great servant-leaders from history. The best leaders are those who take care of their people, knowing that if they do that, their people will take care of them. Some of my favorite historical leaders are George Washington, Cyrus the Great, Stonewall Jackson, and, of course, the Greatest Leader Who Ever Lived. Incidentally, He said, “I came not to BE served, but TO serve” and, “He who would be greatest among you must become the servant of all.” These words and examples have inspired me to strive for that attitude toward those who have served under my command. And, hopefully, I will have the opportunity to inspire others who come after me.
Trust flows from a combination of character and confidence.
Both are important. But out of the two, character is the MOST important.
JCH: Thinking back to your younger self as a police chief… what do you wish you knew then, that you know now about management and leadership?
Ray: Again, the important role that character plays in organizational and personal development. Character provides the internal fortitude and resiliency to deal with pressure and survive long-term in all four of the deadly arenas: the streets, the courts, the media, and the profession itself. I wish I had learned early-on the lessons of being “under authority,” self-control, giving up my right to be angry, controlling my own emotions, forgiving quickly and not harboring bitterness, and not taking it personally when my authority was challenged. My mission at this stage of my career is to share these principles with other current and future leaders in the law enforcement, public safety, and justice professions.
Click Here to Watch “E5 Leadership.”