Negativity repels people. That is not the leader’s role.
The man I was speaking to was worn out, angry and beaten down. He was a high-ranking law enforcement professional in a large agency. It was the summer of 2020 and his agency, like a lot of agencies across the country were under fire. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis had created civil unrest and calls for police reforms across the country. His department was understaffed before the COVID pandemic and now had a large group of officers quarantined. The unrest in his city increased his staffing needs and the officers were running 12 hour shifts without days off, for weeks at a time. Morale was at an all-time low, and he was without answers.
I felt for him. He is a good man who had dedicated his life to serving others – as most people in law enforcement have chosen to do. I could hear his frustration and his weariness. But despite his circumstances, he wanted to do better. He wanted the men and women in his agency to rise above the negativity and be a light to their community. He wanted the department to be part of the solution to the ailments of our society that were playing out in front of him.
My role was to let him vent. Leaders – like everyone else – need a place they can vent safely. I was that place for him that day. He let it out, and I listened. Then I turned the tables on him and challenged him. I asked if the people in his agency had heard much positive talk from him lately. He admitted to me that they hadn’t.
He had been in our Officers of Character program (www.officersofcharacter.com) in the past, so all I had to do was remind him of what he already knew. Positivity attracts and negativity repels. If a leader is consistently negative, people will be repelled. Repelling people is not the leader’s role. In the midst of the circumstances his agency faced, he needed to be the one who brought a positive attitude to the workplace no matter what that day’s circumstances were.
We discussed the current work environment for law enforcement professionals and the impact it had on morale. I reminded him that if they were not receiving encouragement from the outside – community leaders, political leaders, the media – then it was his Duty to make sure it was happening from the inside. Morale is an inside job.
To his credit, he jumped on that statement. I could hear the energy in his voice pick up. He started bouncing ideas off of me. He hung up the phone with a warm “thank you” and a promise to update me on his agency’s progress.
Sometimes we all need an ear. Being that ear for someone who needs to vent can help that person release their anxiety so they can get back to exercising their Duty and being the leader that attracts people and doesn’t repel them. Sometimes just listening to another person and encouraging them is the most positive thing we can do for them.
Dig Deep Questions:
Has your attitude been attracting people or repelling them?
Who can you encourage today with your Positivity or by just letting them vent?
Taking responsibility and exercising Positivity is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Positivity part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Positivity, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.
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