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May 2015

Three perspectives on leadership training and succession


iStock 000005913775Medium 1Leadership Development a Priority in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) recognizes that the successful training and development of team members is the hallmark of a thriving organization. DDS has made tremendous investments in developing and delivering the high-quality training and leadership development courses needed to equip our team members to excel both professionally and personally. These course offerings have been formalized into a training and leadership development program proudly known as DDS University.

DDS University, which was launched in August 2013, has created a platform for the organization to attract and retain a talented workforce, and provide opportunities for team members to advance within their career field. Specifically, DDS University’s leadership development courses are designed to challenge team members currently engaged in leadership roles to strive to become more effective leaders. The courses also present an opportunity to cultivate leadership skills in high performers who have the potential to be future leaders within the organization.

Currently, the leadership development program is targeting the district level managers who are responsible for leading the managers and assistant managers who handle the day-to-day operations of our customer service centers. This level of management was targeted first because they are the bridge between the executive-level leadership and the front-line managers. Therefore, oftentimes our district managers are responsible for effectively communicating and implementing changes or enhancements to our driver’s license services. Equally important are the district managers’ responsibilities with regard to team member engagement to ensure the agency is meeting its goal of providing exceptional customer service.

To facilitate our district managers in excelling in these areas of responsibility, over a 12- to 18-month-period, the team members progress through courses designed to develop leadership competencies in four categories: management development, leading the organization, leading the self and leading others.

As DDS University continues to grow, the agency looks forward to expanding the focus of the leadership development program to managers and assistant managers of the customer service centers. Investing in our team members demonstrates that we value them, and it helps to create a work environment that promotes our commitment to providing excellent service to the citizens of Georgia.

iStock 000005913775Medium 2Leadership Training in Law Enforcement

[At the Missouri State Highway Patrol], leadership development starts pretty far down in the agency. It begins as soon as officers receive their first promotion [from trooper to corporal] with attending a two-week, first-line supervision school. When they get promoted to sergeant, they then attend a weeklong supervision school.

In order to move up to administrative rank [lieutenant], sergeants must pass through an assessment center. It’s a very involved process. There is a writing exercise to assess how well they do with interagency communications, and there’s also a situational exercise in which they deal with several issues that could happen in “a day in the life of a lieutenant.” A critical incident will be thrown at them, and a team of assessors will judge how well they respond to it.

We send eligible sergeants, lieutenants and civilian managers to a three-week leadership course called Leadership in Police Organizations (LPO). It’s a program created by the International Association of Chiefs of Police that we implemented within our agency. We’re all leaders in some shape or fashion, and that’s where the LPO program comes into play. It’s a top-to-bottom leadership program that recognizes the leader in all of us, at any level of the organization. We also send eligible sergeants and lieutenants to the FBI’s National Academy, which is a 10-week leadership program for law enforcement. A third place we send officers for leadership training is Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

There are people with natural leadership abilities, but there is certainly a lot to learn about leadership. I like this definition: Leadership is the art and science of getting someone to follow you. Leadership in the law enforcement community is very important, and it has changed over the years. It has become more involved and very complex—as evidenced by the issues in Ferguson, Missouri—so it’s important that we start leadership training early.

We have a state statute that requires our colonels/superintendent to be promoted from within our ranks. I think this is very appropriate because of the institutional knowledge of the agency someone gains by coming up through the ranks. When I said I would be retiring, the governor asked my opinion about my successor (the Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate). Col. Bret Johnson, [my successor], has served on my command staff as the commander of the Field Operations Bureau and has been at the table when we made major decisions. He comes very well qualified, and is certainly ready for this leadership role.

iStock 000005913775Medium 3aBecoming a Leader

After I graduated from the University of Mississippi, I got a job at the Mississippi Department of Revenue as an auditor for the motor vehicle department. From there, I switched to income tax and was eventually promoted to the director of individual income tax. Then, I became the title bureau director and held that position for about three years. Now, I’m the deputy director of property tax, which covers motor vehicle licensing, titles and property tax.

I have always wanted to be more involved in the agency. I have always wanted something better; I never wanted to settle; I wanted that leadership role. When I heard about the AAMVA Leadership Academy, I wanted to attend because I want to be in a higher leadership position one day, and I also want to help my agency. I knew it would be a great opportunity for me to go and experience what other agencies are doing. I felt that I would be a better leader for the agency if I could bring knowledge back to help us grow.

I had a great experience at the Academy. The camaraderie among the group was great, and I made new friends and networking connections. I learned a lot from the sessions, and I often think back to the classes and remember what I learned and apply it to my daily work.

One takeaway that stands out was uncovering the differences between my personal perspective and my work perspective. Before attending the Leadership Academy, all attendees were asked to complete a Myers-Brigg Type Indicator® personality test. Then, we were broken into groups for various activities at the Academy based on our results. I didn’t always feel like I was in the right group, because I came to recognize that I had answered the questions from more of a personal standpoint rather than a professional one. My personal life and work life are different, and although personal feelings sometimes overlay with work, there are times when you can’t let your personal feelings or perspectives get involved.

I would encourage anyone who can attend an AAMVA Leadership Academy to do so. If you strive to be in a higher leadership position or leadership role in an agency, the Academy could help tremendously, like it did for me. I was able to bring things I learned back to my agency, and the other managers have been impressed with my new ideas.