Making Officers’ Lives Better
“Leadership is not a place you sit; it’s a choice you make.” John Maxwell
Like many who love sports, football season is the only thing that keeps me sane during the long, cold winter. With the conclusion of the Super Bowl, the winter blues can set in. An escape to south Florida and the beginning of baseball’s spring training season ensures my survival until the warmer weather arrives. My annual ritual allows me to enjoy quality time with friends, the ocean, palm trees, and some Florida sunshine. This year, my spring training comrades included a lieutenant from the New York Police Department (NYPD) and a close friend who serves as an assistant police chief of a south Florida police agency.
Sitting in the stands watching spring training baseball is the most relaxing activity I know. I am inspired by the young players aspiring to make the team, knowing their career often rests with a single performance at bat or play in the field. An ice cold drink, peanuts, and a hot dog make for a perfect day.
As someone might expect, many of our conversations revolve around police work and other law enforcement activities. As graduates of the FBI National Academy, we often discuss various law enforcement challenges and leadership issues. Both of my friends spoke passionately about the need to ensure the welfare of their officers. The lieutenant spoke of hating to be away from the office because he wants to make sure someone “has his officers’ backs.” The assistant chief talked about improving equipment and ensuring he knows of events in his officers’ lives: birthdays, a new baby, or running a marathon.
On this sunny afternoon, surrounded by cheering baseball fans, peanuts, and popcorn, I learned an important leadership lesson. These two police professionals represented “the essence of leadership,” which reflects caring about their officers, supporting them, leading by example, and embodying servant leadership. They espoused their leadership role as one to make their officers’ lives better. Making sure their officers have the resources to be safe and effective, truly caring about them, and protecting them in this challenging, complex, and noble profession called law enforcement is true leadership. The commitment by these two law enforcement executives to the people under their command will continue, whether in the office or at a spring baseball game.
Special Agent Michael O. McAuliffe, an instructor in the Leadership Development Institute at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.