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Toews demands action: An Addendum to “Out of the Cake”

Nov 24

My goodness, doesn’t this sound impressive; Mr. Toews is demanding action on the gender bias problem within the RCMP?  I’m sure this will increase the confidence of some Canadians.  However, I would like you to consider this.  In my opinion, the RCMP is in a very low state of readiness for change.  It has, over the last several decades, under each new Commissioner, undertaken a plethora of changes that have resulted in a membership that is “change weary”, fatigued, and cynical.  They are skeptical about the motivations behind the senior executive’s efforts to bring about change.  And their relationship with senior leadership is characterized by mistrust; the senior executive has over-promised and under-delivered for decades.

One of the catalysts to “snap your head back, turn around change” must be a leader that the membership can believe in.  All Mr. Toews’ demands, even if they do make it into action, will be regarded with the same cynicism as previous (incremental) efforts at change, by the RCMP membership.  They need a leader they can believe in.  Mr. Paulson is showing us that he is not that leader.  Do you recall in my “Out of the Cake” piece I mentioned being inundated with emails and telephone calls, from RCMP members, following the Commissioner’s visit to Vancouver?  Here’s another one I thought you might enjoy:

“Mike, this guy’s [Mr. Paulson] a joke.  Period.  Total Harper [Toews?] puppet.  He had a great opportunity here and he failed miserably.  He had a chance to showcase his leadership.  He could have met with the two groups most affected by Adrian’s death.  Talk about the incident.  How we are feeling.  Maybe share some of his experiences with us.  Offer some words of wisdom.  Not a chance… he escaped out of the arena faster than Elvis after a concert.  I expected more of him.  His speech actually upset members.  No doubt it was written by a political PR machine in Ottawa.

The RCMP is badly in need of a charismatic/transformational leader.  Leadership of this type is based upon an emotional connection between the leader and those lead.  Transformational leaders are able to effectively gain trust by demonstrating confidence and self determination while creating an optimistic and compelling vision for the future.  It should have been Mr. Paulson who went to Mr. Toews with a compelling vision of the future for the RCMP.  Those lead tend to identify with a “turn around” leader (e.g. values, goals, ideals) which usually produces greater commitment and cohesion.  This process often translates into a desire for those lead to become more invested in achieving goals tied to the vision.  This is how a truly transformative leader could get the attention of the RCMP membership and ready them for change.  He must break their “bunker mentality”.  A truly transformational leader (e.g. Gandhi, Lombardi, Jobs, King) helps, through his/her emotional connection with those lead, to shape attitudes, motivation, and ultimately behaviour.

Unfortunately, Mr. Paulson is squandering his chance to forge an emotional connection with his members.  He is increasingly being viewed as cold, distant and abrupt.  He is losing their trust.  It seems that he has come by his nickname of “sandpaper” quite honestly.  He is all about defending the status quo.  He has presented no inspiring values, goals, or ideals and consequently appears to be “more of the same”.  He has an exchange-based relationship with his members; that is, they will be rewarded for compliance and punished for their inability to contribute to the “economy and efficiency” of the Force.  (His relationship with his members will be framed in Bill C-42).  He is risk-avoidant and functions in accordance with the present state of the Force, rather than looking into the future in the hope of achieving something much greater.  He does what he is told to do.  Mr. Paulson has no vision; he is mired in the past, he prefers clinging to day-to-day operations and efficiency.  He is afraid to connect emotionally with his membership.

Mr. Toews is now demanding a plan with “specific, objectively measurable milestones”.  Remember what I said in “An Open Letter…” about the difference between outcomes and behaviours/policies?  Both of these characters are flailing around in the dark without a specific gameplan to reach their “milestones”.  (Do you think that the coaches in tomorrow’s Grey Cup don’t have very detailed gameplans that will allow them to reach the “specific, objectively measurable” milestone of a win?)  Where is a public advisory board when you need one?

In closing, and to be somewhat practical, here are four characteristics thought by scholars to be critical to a transformational leader:

  • Idealized influence/charisma – always leading by example; making an effort to build trust and respect; never asking those lead to do anything you wouldn’t do.  Has Mr. Paulson fought for improved working conditions for RCMP members?
  • Intellectual stimulation – promoting creativity, innovation, and contribution from all those lead; challenging the status quo to develop better ways of doing things; creating opportunities for learning and development.  Was the rank and file consulted on Bill C-42?  Was the rank and file consulted on the gender bias issue?
  • Individualized consideration – supporting and encouraging all followers; focusing on helping every member to succeed; recognizing individual contribution.  Hey, S/Sgt. Chad do you feel supported and encouraged?
  • Inspiration/motivation – communicating a clear inspirational vision; displaying passion, conviction, and optimism.  Can you tell me what Mr. Paulson’s  inspirational vision is?  Bill C-42?

Dr. Mike Webster, R.Psych.

One Comment
  1. anon permalink

    I agree that the RCMP is behind in the female recruitment drive. Let’s not take away from the big picture here. The reason this has come to light is because over two hundred female RCMP officers filed complaints of sexual harassment. What about the rest of the RCMP members who are harassed daily? Where is Paulson on this issue? The RCMP is still status quo on this one.


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