In our profession, there appears to be a startling lack of something that most professions hold near and dear – leadership.
When we hear about leadership in the security field, it usually is in regard to somebody messing up, such as with five Blackwater officers committing manslaughter, or supervisors raping their subordinates (Inter-Con). Obviously, these are two rather extreme examples that highlight negative publicity that poor leadership is prone to produce.
In my own company, there are two “watch commanders” for two separate four-day rotations. I am one of them. It seems as though every time I come back on shift, I hear yet another horror story concerning my compatriot and his leadership style. He and I practice two methods of the same ideal – he comes from a Marine background and I come from a bottom-up, customer service-oriented background. Those two differing backgrounds have helped us develop two different leadership strategies.
The other watch commander uses blunt, in-your-face tactics much as a noncom (non-commissioned officer) in the USMC would do while dressing down a subordinate. I use a methodology developed over years of abuse by supervisors and managers in positions of perceived authority which we’ll call “managerial humanism.”
There are obvious distinctions between military leadership and managerial humanism. Whereas one is only concerned with immediate results, the latter is concerned with both immediate and lasting results.
The other watch commander, bless his heart, has the interests of the company in mind when he directs a subordinate to shape up or complete a task, but he is only concerned with the task or issue at hand and does not require much critical thinking from our officers. I, on the other hand, offer my officers advice on how to complete the task assigned, make sure that they understand the directive, and then compliment them on what they’ve done right before critiquing what they’ve done wrong or haven’t completed at all. Military leadership in the civilian arena allows for immediate results, but doesn’t allow the officer to grow. Managerial humanism encourages the officer to complete the task, compartmentalize the goals and objectives they used to complete the task, and then allows them to use these same goals and objectives as a basis for completing other tasks assigned to them in the course of their employment.
While contract security is generally a profit-making enterprise, it shouldn’t preclude the company from encouraging their officers to perform to the best of their abilities. As a general rule, security is low-paying work, and clients place high demands on the security officer for such a low rate of pay (of course, most clients look at what they’re being charged per hour and somehow believe that figure is what the officer is getting paid).
The long and short of this post, I suppose, is that managers and supervisors need to take into account that, without the security officer, our business dies. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule – those officers who simply want to collect a paycheck to perpetuate their meager existence or meaningless lifestyles – but the majority of officers out there want to do well. A true leader should ask how their officer is doing, ask them if they have any questions, share an anecdote, make sure they understand the scope of their duties; anything to help the officer along. Simply saying “fix this, do that, don’t do that, do as I say” will not produce anything but negativity and a high turnover rate.
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03-03-2009, 01:34 PM #1
LeadershipMost of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.
-- Peter Drucker
03-03-2009, 02:04 PM #2Senior Member
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
Sgt C, thank you for bringing this thread up. Leadership is a subject near and dear to my heart, as there's such a lack in so many careers and industries.
In one of my several career-incarnations, I worked for several years either for, or with, a Federal lands-management agency. Formal leadership training, and home study, are both required and encouraged; there is a wealth of excellent study material (everything from course-work to online libraries) available through them.
One of the points that I find interesting, is that a lot of the better material, and more progressive ideas surfacing in Fed agency leadership, was originally USMC product (also, a lot of USN Seals, pilot training, etc).
But, as you state, often times we don't see the result of that training in the field... Some of the absolute worst disasters I've worked for/with have been the "class brains", in the classroom, but couldn't lead a dog across the yard.
(One of the proudest moments of my working life was being demoted (1st and only time) by one of these Wunderkinds; I figured that if he didn't like the way I was leading, I was doin' it right... and he eventually was fired in disgrace from a civil-service position).
By the same token, (quite by accident; I desperately needed a job, and would have taken about anything at the time) I most recently ended up working for a company/facility where management leads by a Just Culture Society philosophy; the irony is that the Fed lands agencies have been trying (mostly unsuccesfully) to achieve this for a couple of decades. And the managers at this company have never even heard of it! Just comes naturally to them...
SecTrainer recently posted an excellent article in another forum that more immediately addresses your comments (re: valuing/empowering security employees); perhaps he would post a link to it here...?
03-03-2009, 05:53 PM #3
There are many things to being a leader. I have learned enough in 15 years to know that i still need to learn. I have also learned that you can learn from someone doing it with a style that you disagree with, or has limited scope, such as the idea that berating someone into doing a task to produce the desired result
I have learned that what you say about sharing anecdotes, use of constructive criticism, and a supportive ideal, really goes a long way towards producing effective security officers.
Above that i find that if i challenge them, my people usually meet it, sometimes exceed it, once in a while surprise you, and on those rare and hopeful occasions, teach me something.
When i make those that work for me feel like they matter to me, then i matter to them, the site matters to them, and the site employees matter.
When the client and their employees see that they matter to us, they respond in a positive way, for a win-win situation.
One of the performance score criteria used at my site is trust and respect. My client in a discussion with me asked "How do you quantify trust and respect?"
I respond with the idea that while the score is actually based on customer service, i want (client) employees to see us as someone to turn to in time of need, regardless of what that need is.
That is how we provide value added service, and in turn create respect for us, which fosters trust by everyone, since we are seen as the ones with the answers, or the facilitators of ideas, not just as protectors.
SecTrainer said it best when he said the employee is always right
03-03-2009, 06:02 PM #4Senior Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Haymarket, VA
Sgt Campbell, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I've have written many times that people and led things are managed.
The security industry cries out for leadership at all levels; however, as long as it remains a dog-eat-dog business and companies are guided by minimums of liability by their carriers, it will remain as it is now.
Enjoy the day,