Dear Chiefs, Sheriffs, Colonels, Directors, Administrative Assistants and Training Officers

You know I love you dearly … but, dang!

After 30 years of working on your behalf, this must be said:

I am keenly aware of and consistently learn more about my responsibilities in front of any room of guests in our academies. I consistently call on each participant – having memorized their names within the first hour of any class – soliciting their opinion on topics at hand. I make the experience interactive because I know I don’t have all the answers. I favor seating arrangements with 4 to 10 people around each table so they can talk with and learn from one another. I do not hide behind a podium or on a stage – I prefer to move throughout the crowd so I can make personal contact with individuals. I vary the methods I use to get points across – from verbal explanations, illustrative stories, drawings on white boards, selected slides, questions of the group, to encouraging people to state their interpretations of the materials.

For the most part, those work exceedingly well for any group – whether Enforcement, Corrections, Civil, Fire, Communications, or Support Services – whether small, rural departments, State, County, or Federal agencies – whether line employees, first line supervisors or senior decision makers – anywhere in the United States. I am honored to be of service to those who are committed to investing in themselves – who are committed to learning.

However …

On average, roughly one-third of the participants in every leadership academy I conduct come to the course with … NO IDEA WHY they’re in the course NOR what to expect NOR what is expected of them by their agency NOR what the course topics are going to be.

That information is on each registration / course outline page … along with a downloadable pdf of the training flyer for distribution to them well before they show up at the training site. Remember: No Secrets; No Surprises.

Oh, and by the way …

  • Roughly one-half of participants show up to a week-long leadership academy without a pen or paper to take notes. Taking notes reinforces learning. Go here to learn more: Effective Note Taking …
  • And, there are always one or more participants in our academies who spend the requisite hours in the training room – and despite my hourly efforts to ensure that everyone is engaged – spend many of those hours looking down, surfing the net or texting on their cell phones. While I will continue to regard and treat everyone as adults by allowing people to leave their phones on during the workshops, such choices tell me and everyone else in the room that they don’t take training seriously. Such choices are a waste of public funds and send a negative message to other participants. Click on this sentence to learn how it clearly demonstrates lack of respect, lack of attention, lack of listening and lack of power.

Training must be viewed as an investment by all concerned from the newest employee to the Chief Executive. Supervisors must consistently reinforced the value of creating a learning organization. True leaders consistently create more value than the sum of the resources they consume. They are committed to LEARNING rather than simply “training … ” They are actively engaged rather than simply geographically present.

So long as training is a mere “expense” or people are sent without seeing the value for themselves and the taxpayer, your training budget – the future or your agency – and the future of your industry – are vulnerable.

Lead like you mean it. Pass it along, please. – s

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Article written by

Stephen L. Kent, founder and president of The Results Group, Ltd., has more than 35 years of leadership, training and facilitation experience. As a leadership & training consultant, he specializes in helping organizations design and implement programs to improve personal, leadership and organizational effectiveness, strategic planning, issues management and community engagement. Steve is a dynamic speaker who is known for his straight talk that gets right to the heart of key issues. He is the author of Strategic Planning & Organizational Culture For Public Safety Agencies and the novel, Covered With Montana - both of which may be purchased on He and his family reside in Oro Valley, Arizona.

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