What Is Courageous Leadership
It Is Needed More Than Ever
The concept of leadership has been taught, trained and written about more than any topic in history. The reason is simple. Everything good and bad that occurs is a result of leadership. From the atrocities the world has endured to our personal lives, leadership is the key.
Private industry understands the power of leadership and they pursue it in a dogmatic fashion for one reason. The failure of leadership will have devastating consequences including business failure, bankruptcy and even prison.
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Law Enforcement along with other government institutions are quite different. Poor leadership has horrible consequences but the organization and many times the bad leaders do not suffer or understand those consequences. If someone needs police services, they do not have the option to choose another organization and often times the employees within the law enforcement organization have limited options on other job opportunities.
While there are certainly some great leaders within law enforcement, there are equally some very toxic and destructive leaders and the profession is seeing the results. From lack of morale to recruiting problems and high crime, leadership or the lack thereof is the reason. Ultimately, our communities are suffering alongside the good men and women in law enforcement and there must be change.
Law Enforcement today must take a different approach to leadership. While there is more leadership training, books and resources available within the profession than at any other time in history, we are seeing obvious signs that something is amiss. While the CEO of a business answers to profits and losses, law enforcement is in a situation where leaders are answering to just about everyone about everything with the exception of our most important mission….crime reduction.
Much of the demands are built on false narratives that are destroying community relationships, officer morale and careers. While there are some excellent leadership training geared toward the profession, we were never prepared for what as happened in the last decade and that lack of preparation has had devastating consequences around the country. From the entire profession being labeled racist to billions of dollars in property loss from riots, our leaders have rarely been able to effectively lead. Major City Police Chiefs average a tenure of three years and the resignations and early retirements of law enforcement professionals reveal a troubling trend, that if not addressed, will alter the safety of our citizens for generations to come.
It is this reason that law enforcement can no longer rely on the leadership principles from the past and courage must prevail.
Law Enforcement Leadership without Courage has and will continue to fail. Courageous Leadership is not some fancy and complicated term only available to a select few. On the contrary, Courageous Leadership is designed for every law enforcement professional, at every rank, in every community but achieving it will not come without a cost. There are no trophies awarded in America today for telling the truth and defining those that are right. On the contrary, outrage and emotion rules and every cop in America can tell a story of when a leader gave in to the mob rather than standing up for what is right. Narratives and emotions have become the standard and anyone that doesn’t agree will be destroyed.
That is why leaders must be courageous.
Doing the right thing and taking the correct action in law enforcement leadership can get you canceled and even fired and it is this natural inclination of self preservation that has hampered law enforcement leadership.
Leaders can no longer be scared.
The idea of Courageous Leadership is nothing new. In fact, America would not even exist if it wasn’t for Courageous Leaders. Our way of life today was paved by men and women that went against the prevailing narrative of their day and courageously fought for what was right.
Fighting for right is the essence of Courageous Leadership.
In 1826, the wife of a slave owner, Sophia Auld, had the courage to do what was forbidden at the time. She taught a young Frederick Douglas the alphabet. Douglas would go on to take that teaching and learn to read and write and then taught other slaves to read and write. After his daring escape from slavery, he would become known as one of the most powerful orator’s in history. His intellect and profound speaking ability went against the horrific mainstream views of African Americans at the time and Douglas would go on to be one of the most influential abolitionists in history.
In 1525, William Tyndale went against the most powerful organization on the planet and translated the Bible away from Latin, paving the way for what would become the most published book in history.
In 1955, Rosa Parks could have easily gone with the narrative of the day and followed instructions on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama but she stayed in her seat and her courage played a major role in the end of segregation.
We look back on these examples of great men and women with awe and amazement but we fail to realize that their actions at the time were shunned by the masses.
Frederick Douglas was beaten for years after it was discovered that he was educating slaves. Rosa Parks was arrested and William Tyndale was executed.
Fortune Favors The Bold
We stand on the shoulders of countless Courageous Leaders that have shown us how to fight for what is right, despite the consequences.
Today is no different.
Nothing has changed for leaders today. There remains a narrative and a status quo that is endorsed by some of the most powerful men and organizations in the world and for those that dare go against that narrative, they will be pursued and punished.
And this is where leadership must prevail.
Courageous Leadership must win, regardless of the cost.
The Power Of One
If you believe in Courageous Leadership, you may think that you are alone and this is what will change through this SubStack, and the other resources that are being provided. Every leader that can convert and adapt to the philosophy of Courageous Leadership puts our profession closer to where it needs to be and we cannot waste any time.
I am inviting each of you to join the Tribe of Courageous Leaders that are working to making law enforcement and the communities they serve the best they can be. Courageous Leaders truly seek greatness and they will sacrifice whatever it takes to make that happen.
In the future, additional resources will be provided to help you but for now I encourage you to join me at the following locations and ultimately join other Courageous Leaders to bring generational change to law enforcement.
Tell others to subscribe to this SubStack.
Get the book that started this journey, “The Courageous Police Leader.”
Subscribe to “The Courageous Leader Podcast”
Consider bringing a Seminar to your agency or conference.
Recognize a Courageous Leader by nominating them for Leader of the Year.
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Dr. Travis Yates is a commander with a large municipal police department and author of “The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos & Lies.” His risk management and leadership seminars have been taught to thousands of professionals across the world. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy with a Doctorate Degree in Strategic Leadership.
The power of one is not a concept to be taken lightly! When we all unite under the banner of “a tribe of courageous leaders“ we can take the individual pinpricks of light in our country and unify them to spotlight the ineptitude and apathy brought on by disloyal leaders. Thank you, Travis!
Wonderful article. I really like the idea of nominating a courageous leader and holding them out as an example. You really touched all the bases on this one and brought it home.