Massachusetts State Police
President and CEO of All-Hazards Incident Command Solutions
"Do more than the right thing, also do things the right way ..."
Why they're a Crisis Leader:
Barry and I met while working on some of the same projects. His subtle but authoritative grasp of the incident command system (ICS) is unrivaled.
As a result, I’ve frequently beaten a path to his door when I needed the most accurate and thorough understanding of ICS principles.
And I’m not alone. There’s high-demand for his instruction and consultation. The quote that I attribute to him is perfectly suited, too.
As you’ll see, Barry learned the importance of doing things the right way as a young leader, and to this day, he still personifies that attitude.
#1 "What is a Crisis Leader?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What is a Crisis Leader?"
So one of the first questions is what is a crisis leader?
And I think it's a multi-faceted question.
Maybe it depends on what type of crisis you're talkin' about if we're talkin' about incident management,
I think that person has to be well educated, well-schooled, have the ability to think on their feet, work quickly, work with others and have that leadership quality that is either trained or just deeply ingrained in that person.
The second side of that is my experience then tells me that if you're dealing with people in crisis, meaning a personal crisis, well that takes a certain amount of empathy and compassion.
The people that would have that empathy and compassion are probably those folks that have been in a similar situation or a life situation to cause them to create that understanding and generally, those people will make a better-informed decision that's supportive of that person in crisis.
#2 "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
So, an example of when I might have relied upon some crisis leadership.
Several examples of dealing with the public.
When I was working homicide, dealing with people that have, my last three homicides were children under the age of two that had been raped and murdered.
And in that case there, of course, you want to solve the crime, but one of the most important things is reaching a conclusion for the family that's gonna be supportive of them in the long term, and in the long run.
And sometimes that's hard to translate.
So I think that as far as dealing with that, that became, to me, a yardstick by which I would measure the success of whether or not I had done a thorough investigation, or completed that investigation properly was:
Had I satisfied that requirement, that I had done as much as I could for that family, in order to reach a positive conclusion for them that was gonna last them for quite some time?
'Cause the last memories they had of their child were the most important ones. And we certainly didn't want to drop the ball and leave them kind of in a bad spot.
So, I think that kinda highlights the most important part.
The other part of that would be, some of the personnel I had working for me.
We had folks that ran through some hardship in their lives and had difficulty. We really had to take that into consideration when we're dealing with folks, if we don't, we're kinda leaving them a little bit short, I think.
#3 "What do you know now that you wish you knew then?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What do you know now that you wish you knew then?"
So a question comes up, what would I do now if I had, that you wish you what I knew then, and I think one of the things that I've learned over time is I've had to teach myself to listen better.
We tend to be in law enforcement crisis-driven, meaning you present me with a problem, I'm gonna give you a solution and probably in very short order, and I'm gonna solve that problem fairly quickly for you and for the folks around us.
We learn to do that. One of the problems with that is we don't become very good listeners.
And we really need to get to the point where you start to listen, not just in your personal life but when you expand beyond just being a responder, so to speak, and get to the point where you need to be that leader all the time.
You have to take the time to be deliberate, slow down, listen to people, listen to their issue, their problem, the crisis that they see it, how they're presenting it, whatever their paradigm is and their approach.
I think it allows you to then create a circumstance where those people are going to be more effective and do their jobs more effectively. Because you can't do their job for them.
You have to allow them to do their job, so I think one of the things I wish I had learned earlier was just to become a better listener.
#4 "What advice would you give someone who wants to improve their own Crisis Leadership?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What advice would you give someone who wants to improve their own Crisis Leadership?"
Okay, what advice would you give someone who wants to improve their own crisis leadership skills?
I think, no matter what your position is in life, and I've learned this over time, sometimes the person that you might think is the least probable to become the strongest leader in the room, a lot of times that person is indeed the best leader in crisis or otherwise.
Some people have the innate ability to be leaders, other people learn that ability. West Point, Annapolis, we have a lot of places where we can send people to learn to be leaders, but those folks that have that innate ability, boy we really got to seek them out and develop those folks.
So, I think that what people need to do is maybe begin to look at those leaders around them, emulate those behaviors, they're gonna be positive in the long run. The listening skills, the ability to be empathetic, exercise some compassion for other folks.
I think those qualities make you a stronger leader, and I think from a business standpoint, nine times out of 10, if you treat your employees well, they're gonna treat your business well.
And, the same thing happens in public service. If you treat your employees well, they're probably gonna treat their service well.
Now, by treating your employees well, sometimes that means that we have to discipline them. Sometimes that means we have to take 'em aside and say, hey, not for nothing, could we have done this better? Or, did you think of this approach instead?
So, treating 'em well doesn't mean we ignore bad behavior. Sometimes it means we have to take corrective action.
It's the manner in which you take that corrective action that'll determine whether these people are gonna to continue to work for you, and whether you're gonna be successful as a leader.
#5 "Who is a Crisis Leader that influenced your career?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "Who is a crisis leader that influenced your career?"
Who was the crisis leader that influenced your career the most?
And, I remember, there was a lieutenant, an older fellow, he's still around, he still does a lot of work for our agency, but, he was a very, very, very tenacious and thorough investigator.
And I remember one time, I had, someone called into internal affairs and made a complaint against me. And, it was just those types of things, where I shouldn't have gotten a speeding ticket, or, he was a little bit rude, or whatever, and, the lieutenant that came down was okay, but I asked for this other lieutenant in internal affairs, who I knew was probably the most thorough, tenacious, get-the-job-done, and probably most likely, to either convict you, or exonerate you.
And knowing that I was in a position where I hadn't done anything that really needed to be disciplined, I pushed to get this particular lieutenant.
And then years later, he became a fairly good mentor to me. And, the reason for that was because, sometimes people say, let's do the right thing. And his position was always, let's do things the right way. And I think there's a significant difference between that.
He never had the position of doing an investigation, and say, let's do the right thing, he always just said, let's do things the right way. And having done things the right way, I think you develop an opportunity, or a likelihood, that you're probably gonna have a better success, not just in life, but in your career, by doing things just plain the right way.