My Struggle

imgresThis morning I will begin to teach a new course on campus — “Police Leadership in Changing Times.” It is for upper division criminal justice students here on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Designing this new course has been enriching and challenging. I have attempted to pull together the past and present (with a glimpse of the future) for these aspiring criminal justice leaders.

My experience with leadership spans half a century: from being a sergeant in the Marines, to developing department-wide training in crowd control while I was still a police officer, being engaged in police reform as a chief of police for over 25 years, as a church leader for two decades and now as a university teacher.

The problem is this. And its about this year’s presidential election. The problem is, for the most part, Donald Trump will not fit into what I have learned about leadership or my paradigm for it.

He now is one of the most visible leaders in the world and his behavior does not comport to my vision, experience, and current study with regard to the practice of leadership.

I say this because I think, more than ever, good leaders today need to stand up and give voice to what’s right; to praise good leadership practices and to critique those which are below standard.

Many of us have learned there is a “best way” to lead people in a free and democratic society over the course of our 200+ year history — I hope President Trump can learn what that is and with humility and patience, practice it. Old dogs can be taught new tricks.

And when we don’t see and experience leadership practices which help people grow and thrive, we must speak out just as the little child did in the well-known story by Hans Christian Anderson about pretense and truth.

imagesThe Emperor’s New Clothes: An Excerpt

“‘But he hasn’t got anything on,’ a little child said.

“‘Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?’ said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, ‘He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.’

“‘But he hasn’t got anything on!’ the whole town cried out at last.

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, ‘This procession has got to go on.’ So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.” [The End.]