Commanders Section: Don’t Apologize for Excellence!
STL Joseph Garcia
Who would you say are the top teams in the special operations community (regardless of law enforcement, military or corrections)?
Delta, Navy Seals, British SAS, Singapore Ghurkas, LAPD D-Platoon, Dallas SWAT, NYPD ESU or the NYPD Hercules Unit, Alexandra SOT VA, Fairfax County, Chicago PD SWAT German GSG9… The list could go on and on, along with plenty of passionate arguments.
If your answer didn’t start with your team, my question is why not?
Notice that I did not ask you a question about just the military SpecOps teams—I also added police and corrections. Regardless of your budget or status, having an elite unit begins with you as a leader.
If your people respect you as a leader, and you respect and esteem them in turn, you should by all means consider your unit among the top tier. I have seen young commanders and leaders adopt a know-it-all attitude or a dictatorship role with the unit. Your people are not blind; they know whether or not you’re simply a figurehead or a true leader.
I recently saw a young, new commander undergo some intense pressure. Out of this process emerged a leader, forged through hardship and steeled with a resolve to fight for his people. He now runs one of the most progressive units in the Northeast US.
In a short period of time, he worked closely with his administration and team leadership to get on the path of excellence. Reducing his team from 50 to 24 operators, he had to cut friends and professional colleagues for the final team.
Today he has a smile on his face. His administration has purchased over $700,000 towards the department’s Special Operations Program. You might be thinking, Great. His department won the lottery. But what does this have to do with excellence? Simple: It took a genuine leader to sit down with his top operators and research what they wanted to do to get to the next level. What drove him to it was that he noticed his team showed signs of:
• Know it all attitudes
• Poor listening
• Absenteeism from meetings and training
• Lack of focus
• Poor attention to detail
• Failure to take training seriously