Good Advice for an Aspiring Leader… from Barney?

My former Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes (every Sheriff needs a Barney – and I NEVER get tired of that joke…), gave a very well-thought-out response to the request for guidance on aspiring to leadership. I had to include it as a separate post. Here it is:

That is some of the soundest advice that can be given and, if followed, the young man will do well. Taking the path of least resistance will make a mighty river and a mighty man, both crooked. Here area couple points he may want to consider.

1) It is the love and passion of the leader, for the enterprise and for the followers, that creates a soul and brings organic life into the enterprise. This creates the “esprit” were the unit will move as one…military, law enforcement, sports team, or business. That reminds me of a quote I came across–What better expression of love is there than to create life—and how can life be sustained without love? True leaders, as the ancients taught, are followed without any coercion because the leader has “turned their soul to some noble purpose”. The greatest leader put this all together as he spoke of the sacrificial nature of leadership birthed in love…”Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (followers). Jesus. Men and women who go into harms way correctly must possess a love for each other and not be driven by hatred for the evil force they oppose. Love is the stronger emotion…love for the unit and love for each other will sustain them in the greatest adversity.

2) Then there is the little talked about subject of followership. Try to find a book on this subject, yet to be a great leader you must first be a great follower. Remember the childhood game—Follow the Leader? Followership is not only a prerequisite to leadership, it is also a continuing role. When you think about it we must be able to fulfill both roles for much of our lives. In law enforcement/military the Sergeant is following the Lieutenant while at the same time leading the corporals. If the lieutenant is a poor follower then this will taint “the sarge” who may inflict this on the corporal. The lieutenant was most likely a poor follower and should have never been given the additional responsibility—they should have been given the opportunity to be a corporal once again. This is why good leadership at the top is so essential—ensuring that good followership is in place throughout the organization. I call this “bi-directional” followership and it is a close relative of bi-directional loyalty.

Keep your powder dry,



The Peter Principle

You may be familiar with the Peter Principle that states,”In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” First espoused by Dr. Laurence Peter, this principle essentially means that, within an organizational structure, employees tend to be promoted as long as they perform competently. Sooner or later, they are promoted to their highest “level of incompetence” where they are no longer capable of performing well. And here they tend to remain stuck.

The Peter Principle I talk about here is different, however. This Peter Principle involves the Apostle Peter who was one of Jesus’ disciples who lived at Capernaum where I filmed The Centurion video. Peter was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee and being there gave me an opportunity to talk about this important leadership principle, which I have to credit to my Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes (every Sheriff needs a Barney)…

You can read more important leadership principles from Chief Barnes at his blogsite:

For those of you interested in seeing more of the Sea of Galilee, plus our wonderful meal of St. Peter’s fish, here are a couple of additional videos. Also featured are our guide and Biblical historian, David Dekker, and my travelling partner/cameraman, Gary Curry.

While we were at this restaurant, we had the opportunity to meet a famous Israeli general.



Super Vision and the Men of Issachar

Filmed at the City of David in Jerusalem, in this video I talk about the principle of Super Vision as it applies to character-based leadership. When King David was assembling his army in Ziklag, the Bible chronicles the number of men who came from each tribe. Except in the case of the Tribe of Issachar. The Bible does not give us the exact number of men. It only says that there were “200 chiefs.” These were the supervisors of David’s army. The Bible says they “understood the times and knew what Israel had to do.”

This was a critical dimension in David’s army. And it is a critical component of any law enforcement or military organization today. Police Dynamics is all about understanding the times so you will know what you, and your jurisdiction, has to do.

Editor’s note: I misspoke about the number of chiefs. The Bible says it was 200, not 300. Maybe I was getting it confused with Gideon’s army. Or maybe I was just sleep-deprived from camping in the desert

Polish the Tarnished Badge – Introduction

A few years ago, the Charleston Post and Courier started a series of newspaper articles called Tarnished Badges. In it, they traced the problem of renegade police officers in SC and how they were impacting the profession of law enforcement.

At the National Sheriff’s Association Annual Training Conference in 2008,  Franklin Smith and Sheriff Ray Nash co-presented Polish the Tarnished Badge – the five steps to setting the standard from a character-based leadership perspective. This video is the first in a series taken from that training workshop.

Know the Condition of Your Flock

The Shepherd

Know the condition of your flock

I just finished reading Larry Kreider’s most excellent book, 21 Tests of Effective Leadership. It really helped me re-focus on what makes a great leader and recommit myself to becoming the kind of leader I am called to be.

Larry had a bunch of great quotes on leadership, but one that stuck out with me was a quote from former Secretary of State Colin Powell in the chapter called “The Vision Test.” He said:

“… find ways to reach down and touch everyone in a unit. Make individuals feel important and part of something larger than themselves.”

This is a variation of the principle: Know the condition of your flock. An effective leader knows the importance of trust-based relationships within the organization. If you are a supervisor, you should make it a point to touch base with everyone that is directly under your command or a part of your team at least once a day if at all possible. In this way, you will build the relationship and know their condition. This is an essential ingredient for servant-leadership.

Remember: the greatest Leader who ever lived said, “I came not to be served, but TO serve” and “He who would be greatest among you must become the servant of all…”