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Chief, Sheriff: How’s your EQ?

By: Bill Kicklighter Published:

(Updated: )

More often than not, law enforcement agencies are structured as paramilitary organizations. There are ranks, policies, procedures, direct orders and chain of command that must be followed.

It's for very good reason. There are situations in our society when we all need the brave men and women in police uniforms to charge the hill (or criminals), without question or hesitation. In times like that, law enforcement officers have to proceed with confidence in their mission, their training, their fellow officers and their leaders.

So what about the times when there isn't a charge-the-hill event happening? Those times when officers within your organization are facing real world personal or professional challenges or experiencing (maybe even creating) a conflict with coworkers?

Better yet, they have a new, creative idea to help the agency serve its community or potentially reduce crime and would like to approach agency leadership with the idea. These are times when they are being, well, emotional human beings and need guidance, assistance and support.

How does your agency leadership respond in those situations? More importantly, what kind of environment have you created within your organization to help your officers know how to handle these challenging events or to provide the freedom of creativity to present new ideas to leadership? If it's an area you don't pay a lot of attention to or it's not a strength of your organization, you're not alone. Most law enforcement agencies, and its leadership, are much more IQ than EQ.

IQ testing has been around since the early 1900's and is commonly known as a measure of one's intelligence. Many people who climb the ranks within a law enforcement agency have a relatively strong IQ and are good at evaluating facts to form logical conclusions. IQ helps make them good crime solvers.

Ask many law enforcement leaders about their EQ, however, and they'll look at you like Mr. Spock did when Captain Kirk said something completely illogical or emotional.

So what is EQ? In straight-forward terms, EQ, or emotional intelligence (quotient), is about being aware of not only your own feelings, but also the feelings and emotions of others. It's about listening and presenting responses that are appropriate to the other person's situation and emotion.

That sounds easier than it really is for most people. Many law enforcement leaders think they have no deficiency of EQ because they have successfully handled many calls for service over the years involving emotional people. Other, more seasoned cops-turned-leaders might think it sounds like a bunch of wimpy psychology stuff and not what they signed up for.

As a law enforcement leader, you understand that education and learning throughout an individual's career should never stop. If you want your agency personnel to perform at their highest potential, display a positive outlook, maintain strong morale and serve their community with the right attitude, don't be afraid to consider placing some focus on your EQ and that of your agency leadership. It won't make you a weak leader. It will reduce stress for your employees and will strengthen their view of you as a leader.

Studies have shown that only 15% of professional success is due to IQ. The other 85%? Yep, EQ and all the other characteristics that make up our personalities and drive our behaviors. Imagine the increased performance and success of your agency if you could tap into and apply the other 85%!

Want to reduce turnover in your agency? Focus some time and effort on your EQ. High turnover is often a direct reflection of an agency's low EQ level.

So, what can you do to improve your EQ? There are a number of things, but here's one simple action that will improve it immediately... Listen. Truly listen to others. Try listening with the intent to learn rather than the intent to respond. It's not as easy as it sounds, but it will immediately improve your EQ and the way others perceive and respect you.

Here's a succinct way to remember it: Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. That's not the kind of agency you'll want to leave as your legacy.

Bill Kicklighter is the Founder and CEO of Kommander Software, Retired Chief, 9-1-1 Director, Entrepreneur, Father and Eternal Optimist. Blessed and thankful.

Please feel free to reach out if I can ever be of assistance to you or your agency or if you would like to achieve a best-practice off duty detail program.

Matthew 5:9

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