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RCMP Leadership Part II

Apr 11

G’day all! I am required in the LMD over the next couple of days so I thought I would give you something more to read and think about while I’m gone. (Settle down “Bobbo”, I’ll provide the “boys and girls” with my travel plans in a moment. That way they won’t have to exert themselves, while on shift, and can continue with the “soaps” they’re watching; and most importantly, keep their place on the couch!). Here’s where I want to go with this little piece. I’ll bet that you folks, like most, think that the position of “leader” is reserved for executives or senior managers? In truth this is not the case. The role is not defined by a title or a position but by behaviour. In other words, now catch this……….ANYONE CAN BE A LEADER; moreover, anyone can lead the “boss” if that person knows what she/he is doing.

Here’s the big picture. Some of the most famous individuals in history have been transformational in one way or another. That means that some have been praised e.g. Christ, Buddha, Geronimo, Iacocca, Lombardi, and Washington. Whereas others have been (justifiably) vilified e.g. Hitler, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Mao Tse-Tung. Transformational leaders come in all shapes and sizes; and from all societies and contexts. They have been of both sexes and have left their mark in fields ranging from athletics, through philosophy, to politics. I think it is of interest to note that very few managers and CEO’s are transformational in their leadership style (with Lee Iacocca being the great exception). Most of them are concerned with preserving the status quo (eh, “Bobby Boy”?)

OK, so stay with me on this… are an NCO, and your shift (team) is fiercely loyal to you. In comparison to other NCO’s at the detachment you are highly successful. What are you doing that others are not? I will suggest to you that it is something like this:

* You remind your team of the purpose of their work.
* You act as a role model i.e. you demonstrate integrity at every opportunity.
* You hold high expectations of your team members; but you walk the walk; you
hold yourself to the same standards.

Do you recall that I referred to Burns (1978) in the first installment on this topic? Well, Bass(1985) picked up the balls where Burns left off and added that a transformational leader was:

* first and foremost, a model of equity
* one who sets clear and attainable goals
* one who holds high expectations of self and others
* one who encourages others
* one who provides support and recognition of goal attainment
* one who is able to stir the emotions of followers
* one who is able to get others to look outside themselves
* one who can inspire others to reach beyond their grasp

This should all be starting to hang together for you? Have you recognized this in your section head, your shift supervisor, your unit chief, your detachment commander, your Commissioner? Would you like to be more transformational in your leadership of others? Try this:

* create an inspiring vision of the future in your section, on your shift, in
your organization.
* motivate others to buy into and deliver your vision
* manage the delivery of your vision
* build strong trust based relationships with your followers; if you’ve lost
their trust and are behind the eight ball, I don’t hold much hope for you!
As you may have gathered from other areas in your life, once you lose trust,
it’s tough to rebuild.

In sum, what I am saying to you here is YOU TOO CAN BE A TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADER!!! However, you must be willing to inspire trust in, and loyalty to you, your immediate game plan, and the ultimate end goal; all of this while holding high expectations of each team member and yourself. Here, in an abbreviated form are the key elements of a formula to restore your pride in yourself, others’ pride in themselves, and, who knows, maybe even the RCMP(?)

I. Idealized Influence

Offer yourself as a “charismatic” leader (granted not everyone is a Vince Lombardi or a Lee Iacocca, but you can all behave ethically) who is able to build confidence and trust.

II. Inspirational Motivation

Provide meaningful work for your followers that is consistent with the values of
your organization and the needs of the community you service; and the standards
you set.

III. Intellectual Stimulation

You encourage creativity by questioning the common assumptions that have been
made, and continue to be made, by so many RCMP transactional (see previous
article) managers for so many decades.

IV. Individual Consideration

You create a system (depending upon the size of the business unit and your
responsibilities) that actually (not just in theory) mentors the needs of
individual employees; you make everyone feel as if he/she is a part of the team.
(In a larger unit where your responsibilities are many, and your time is short,
you must have mentors you can trust.)

And to complete your game plan, here’s what you DO NOT DO:

* do not play the reward & punishment game (it has been tried and failed
miserably), it only addresses low level needs at best

* do not micro-manage the team to ensure pre-set standards are met

* do not avoid change, and instead put all your energy into rehabilitating
and cementing the status-quo.

* do not emphasize process (i.e. “this is the way we did it on the march
west, the way we do it today, and the way we will do it tomorrow, for
we are the Force!”) over outcome; look for new thinking, new ideas, a better
way or a different way.

* most of all do not listen to those who say, “It’s unrealistic and cannot be
done”, for they are the ones who made the mess in the first place, and benefit
most from maintaining (it) the status quo!

So once again, there it is! Let’s here from you? The gang (Eagle, Raven, Salmon, Cougar, Orca, Dogfish et al.) are getting tired of holding up your end. See you in a few days. Until I return, something (from one of the greatest “transformational leaders” of all time) to cogitate upon…….

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

— Winston Churchill

Dr. Mike Webster
Registered Psychologist

  1. One afternoon Seagull spotted Crow and landed for a chat. The former asked, “What is self-respect?” The latter answered,”Not, not self-respect.” Seagull looked quizzically, and asked, “It’s not actually self esteem?” Crow said with a twinkle, “I’m not bright enough to know.”

  2. EFAMIA permalink

    “Pinocchio Bob”

    Bending the truth OK if you get things done

    It WAS Phil Gaglardi who once declared…. if I told a lie, it’s because at the time I thought I was telling the truth!

    Of course everyone bends the truth a bit now and again, and characters like B.C.’s legendary highways minister could get away with it.

    Then there are those whose lies aren’t tolerated so well. People like the commissioner of the RCMP.

    Bob Paulson was trying to be funny when he addressed the Vancouver Board of Trade last week, telling his audience, that yes…. he was caught speeding on the Coquihalla last year…. and you should have seen the look on the officer’s face when he found out he’d stopped the RCMP’s top dog.

    Paulson was relieved, but also somewhat startled when the moderator said he wouldn’t ask him how much the ticket was for because suddenly the commissioner realized he put his foot into it.

    The wretched media weren’t as kind to Paulson afterwards, pestering the RCMP boss for details, when Paulson first said he never got a ticket, he’d made it up, but after persistent questioning confessed it did happen. And did he get a ticket?

    Well no… the officer didn’t give him a ticket. Was he getting preferential treatment because of who he was? “No” the commissioner snapped, and quickly ended the scrum with those he no doubt regarded as less than the scum of the earth.

    Indeed, plenty of people get off with a warning but they’re not the commissioner of the RCMP, who’s been trying to convince Canadians he runs a clean and accountable shop. And they don’t lie about it when confronted. Gaglardi has gone down in the annals of B.C. political history as a character, but one who got things done. The RCMP commissioner is more likely to be remembered as Pinocchio Bob.

    Listen to Jim Harrison’s editorials weekdays on Radio NL, and to the Jim Harrison Show at 9:08 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact him at


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