Chief of Police; University of KY
Chief of Police; University of KY
"Keep learning throughout your leadership journey ..."
Why they're a Crisis Leader:
Joe Monroe has earned the title of a crisis leader every step of his journey so far.
And unlike some people that reach the apex of their careers by crawling over others, Joe’s legacy includes a wide and deep wake of other devoted, competent, and successful leaders that he has cultivated along the way.
One of the other factors for Joe’s success as a crisis leader is the extraordinary network of other crisis leaders and other resources that he actively maintains. It’s a rare moment when he doesn’t have a relationship with someone to help in virtually any situation and even more rare that those contacts wouldn’t drop everything to help Joe.
Joe’s willingness to share what he knows to anyone who asks epitomizes his role as a crisis leader who is committed to leaving a lasting legacy.
His focus on leaving a useful legacy made such an impact on me that it inspired the name for this book project.
#1 "What is a Crisis Leader?"
Click to read a transcript of the answer "What is a Crisis Leader?"
So, what I feel like a crisis leader is is somebody that can step into a role at a moment's notice and manage a critical incident.
So that takes a lot of skills plus it also takes a lot of education into experience.
But more importantly, it's somebody who is very able to think very quickly on their feet.
By thinking very quickly on your feet, you're able to process things at a rapid pace more than somebody that's not a critical thinker.
#2 "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Part 1 of 2:
Click to read a transcript of answer 1 of 2: "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Probably an example that I could use to talk about a time when I really had to focus on crisis leadership is recently here, we've had an incident that involved a father and his two sons who were leaving a football game, and upon leaving the football game before it was actually over, they were leaving early, and they were struck by a drunk driver where all three were injured, and the three year old little boy was fatally injured.
His injuries were catastrophic and they resulted in the ultimate death of the individual.
So when you look at the leadership on that critical incident, we first had to look at how to secure the scene after we got the safety for the scene taken care of, but we also looked at, of course, the injured were already transported immediately to the hospital.
When I got to the scene, one of the things I noticed, there was the shoes laying in the street, but I also noticed a young boy sitting on a porch that was crying and a woman, who appeared to be the resident of that house, was consoling the young boy.
That ended up being the two year old brother, five year old brother, of the deceased three year old. The shoes actually belonged to him.
So he was hit as well and lost his shoes, and his father had already been transported, his younger brother had already been transported with the injuries.
So my first priority was to secure the scene and then take the young child, the five year old child, and reunite him with his father and his mother, who was on the way to the hospital.
So that was that first life safety priority in a crisis.
The second was securing the scene and then starting the process of evidence collection and getting that whole initiative moving, with calling in the resources from our partners to make sure that they were properly documenting the scene, 'cause we knew it was going to be a fatality.
The third piece of that is, as this was unraveling, the game started ending.
This was a major traffic route for us, for our exit, so we immediately had to contact our command posting and come up with an alternate traffic management plan to reroute this traffic away from this road now that it was closed because of it.
We actually put out messaging of a critical incident that involved a fatality, so we could make sure that people understood why we were closing the roadway and reduce the negative impact that we were going to receive for closing that.
We received no negative feedback from that, altering that traffic plan.
So that was probably one of the most forefront that I can recall in my memory of an example of crisis leadership that you had to put a lot of the skills you learned, a lot of the stuff we talked about in an emergency, special event planning, all come to fruition very quickly.
Part 2 of 2:
Click to read a transcript of answer 2 of 2: "What's an example when you relied on your own Crisis Leadership?"
Another piece to that whole situation was post event, we had to look at doing critical incident stress debriefing for our team, including myself, where we were processing the death of this child and the impact it had on us, 'cause we all had small children that age.
When you have officers who are performing life safety CPR on a three-year-old, trying to save his life, and realizing that he is gonna be a fatality, that plays a heavy toll on first responders.
So that was a critical component that evolved into this whole thing in the end is, you had to focus on the crisis leadership and making sure that you looked at the human piece of it and getting that mental health.
#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?"
You know if you stop and think about it as you evolve through a career you always look back and you're like, gosh I wish I had knew about this or that long before I'm at the point I am now, because it would have made you a better leader.
So one of the things that I think is important to look at is that journey you make in a career depends on identifying the journey in other people's career, the experiences that they went through and you learn from them.
You take the knowledge that you learn and apply it to your career.
To say, okay, I don't want to make that mistake that this chief made or this fire captain made, or whoever.
So you're identifying these critical points that you can learn from and not make those same mistakes, and I think that's probably one of the most important things you look at.
I look at a lot of things from leaders going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln, things that people are like, well that doesn't really apply to modern day, but the principals actually do.
That's the whole thing, that you look and evaluate the whole totality of the circumstances, what you can take out of it and apply to your current experience as you move forward in your journey.
#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?"
So when you start to think about what would I tell somebody, a young chief or a crisis leader, in a position that they're up and coming what advise would I give them to be a better leader as they evolve?
Probably the first thing is identify your weaknesses.
Identify what your weaknesses are, focus on them and how you're gonna improve them. Whether it's learning from a peer, a mentor, or seeking out that training that's gonna make you that better leader.
One of the things that I did in my journey was I always looked at five to 10 years out.
I never focused on that zero to five because by the time you are looking on the zero to five five years is already gone.
So you have to be ahead of yourself and look at five to 10 and 10 plus out. And that's kinda the way that I structure our organization.
As a chief I'm focusing on 10 years out or more.
I wanna develop these young leaders to be critical thinkers and handle critical situations by giving them the resources they need, the training they need, and let them apply it and have those real life experiences.
Because even if you take it and do it in a small format, for a small event or an incident, they're gonna learn from that and be able to build upon it so that the day that a major event or incident happens they're gonna have that background and knowledge but they're also gonna have the confidence in themselves to do it.
#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?"
So, I don't know if I could identify, specifically one person, who probably influenced my crisis leadership skills for my career. I could probably name a couple.
Of course, you know, one of the first ones that's out there, it is Lincoln.
I mean, you know, Lincoln went through probably the most critical crisis in the history of this country, if not the world, and his philosophy, his skills, and then he continually learned as he went through, in his short presidency, and made the changes necessary.
But, probably more than anything, was he had the gumption, or the... confidence in himself, to make these critical decisions that were going to be unpopular, they were going to be not well-received, but they were the right thing to do.
And sometimes as a leader in a crisis, you've gotta do what's right for the situation, even though, partially, you may disagree with it.
You know, you don't like it but you know it's what's best and what is the right answer.
So, that is one of the things you can see as you look and study Lincoln, that he did.
You know, there's others like, you know, Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, they're more recent but they all have great situations where they applied leadership skills and to crisis situations.
And it takes a lot for somebody to go out on a limb and make those decisions that aren't going to be well-received.
But, before you even get to that point of making those decisions, you had to have built up enough respect in an organization that they're going to trust you. The people around you, and above you, and below you are going to trust your decisions.
They're going, they'll look to you to make those critical decisions in a time of crisis, and they're going to feel good with it, because they trust you.
Because, over time, you've built those emotional, and professional deposits, up in that bank account, sort of speak, and then when it's time to make those negative withdrawals, you're going to be in a lot more positive balance.
But, that's probably the thing you gotta think about the most is, that relationship building and making sure that you're preparing the people around you by showing them that you can do the job.