Build your public safety organization’s brand through social media.

How can social media help build your agencies brand?   Organizational branding is a new concept for public safety.  Every organization had a brand which encompasses more than its reputation. The organizations brand represents everything it values and how it operates.  In your mind, picture the Texas Rangers, Virginia State Police, FBI and images automatically come to mind. The image may, or may not, be an accurate representation of the organization.  Your organizations brand brings words to describe how your citizens see and feel about your officers and organization.  Therefore, it is an accurate statement to say: You control your organizations’ brand, or you are relinquishing control to someone else.  Social media can help you take ownership of your organization’s brand and increase your overall effectiveness and employee engagement.

To have an effective social media branding campaign your organization must be completely transparent. If your organization is misleading on how it operates or what it values, the negative impact can be insurmountable damaging.  By being honest, a “This is who we are, warts and all” attitude, you can make the connections that develop an effective brand. The conversation started during your organization’s social media branding campaign can help shed light on areas that you need to strengthen or change.  If your past had been difficult, but you made major changes, social media is a great platform to get your message out.

Now, let’s examine how social media can impact your brand in just two areas. As just mentioned, the first area is getting your message out.  Before you can build your brand and share it through social media, you must truly know what your organization values.  Does your agency focus on highway law enforcement, strict enforcement of laws over solving problems, community policing, zone policing, sector policing, or another traditional  style?  There are many more styles; however, each one of those listed has their own unique attributes.  What works well in one community may not work well in another.  When the style of policing fits the needs of the community, agency, and officers, a synergistic connection is created that improves the lives of all.

Congratulations.  You created synergy, but does anyone outside of your region of the world know about your success?  An active social media campaign can take you to the second level of organizational branding.  Your website is your brochure to the world.  Facebook, Twitter, and the others Social Media sites are your connectors that get your message out to your customers, also known as citizens, and the rest of the world.  As your message goes out, you receive information from others back through the same Social Media pipeline. You may receive questions on the success of a particular program, or suggestions to make improvements.   New South Wales Eye Watch Facebook program has been a great success and help build the organizations brand for outside the box thinking.

The second way an active social media branding campaign impacts your organization is who you attract, retain, and repel for employment.  A study completed in 2010 revealed that 30% of public safety officers did not know a significant amount of the host organizations culture before being hired.  Imagine the impact on engagement of a person who up-roots their family and moves several hundred miles to join your organization, only to find that the organization’s culture does not match their expectations or desires.  The new employee’s engagement levels will drop immediately.  Social media can prevent this by creating a realistic job preview of your organization.  This will help ensure prospective employees have as much information about your organization as possible before applying.  The statement has been made, “If we put the information on the web then no one will apply.” This is more of statement about the host organization than the impact of social media.  Your organization may not be socially connected however, the officers are and they talk around the world.  Not telling applicants up front about the culture has a significant impact on employee engagement, as well as fiscal impact on the community when officers give up and only perform the necessary requirements to keep their job.  By not being honest, your organization builds an international brand as a place to avoid.  Proactive organizations build a brand by being introspective and transparent creating a positive international image and become employer of choice.

It is imperative for an organization attempting to get its organizational brand out to strategically use Social Media to connect to its customers, employees, and prospective employees around the world.  The brand is more than the reputation; it is a summation of what the organization values and foundation it rests upon.  Social media makes the connections and creates the synergy that will allow your organization to continue to build on its success.

A fun and reliable way to score your leadership and management talents.

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Ever thought about the perception of your effectiveness as a leader or manager of your team? No? Your team loves you right? Perception is reality when you’re in charge of a team. Everyone in a supervisory role believes they have great leadership and management skills, but the truth is most are not that gifted. It’s not that we’re delusional, we simply judge ourselves in the best light possible, namely, from own perspective. Our egos don’t want to look at the bigger picture, therefore, we resist feedback. In order to facilitate, if not force supervisors to see the perceptions from their teams perspectives consultants developed the 360 evaluations. The 360 combines perspectives from the top down, sideways, and from the bottom up. Great, however, with all of the data the 360 provides, it is still easy to overlook your team’s perspective on your ability to lead and manage. Notice I said, “Team”. If you don’t refer to the people you supervise as “Team” you, my friend, are in deep trouble as a leader. Your boss and friends may think you are great, but if you team has a dissimilar perspective you are not as effective as you could be. You may be what is keeping your “Team” from not just being at the next level, but stopping them from being effective at their current level. Now for the fun part, there is a new tool that allows you to rate your leadership splash and post it to social media. Using the Matrix from Integritas Leadership Solutions, LLC, you can rate yourself, or someone else, on leadership and management aptitudes and directly post the scores to face book. When you receive multiple scores from your team members you can plot them and see your splash as a leader and manager.

First, understand both management and leadership positions are diametrically opposed. They are always trying to get ahead of each other. They both have an important part to play in any organization but most people confuse the divergent skills and abilities required for management for leadership. Leadership is about breaking out of the box and taking your team to a new level. Leaders, create a vision, overcome the inertia of status quo, and bring the team to life to meet new challenges. Management is about policies and procedures, following the rules. Basically, managers keep you in the box. When you were back in school, the leader was the high school rock star and everyone wanted to follow him or her. The manager was the chemistry geek who had to follow the rules or his test tubes would blow up. You asked the chemistry geek how to do your homework, but went to the rock stars house to hang out. Hint, the chemistry geek never forgot, or forgave, you and is now retaliating for your transgressions through their management roles.

Now, fast forward to today and learn something about yourself. The Integritas Leadership Solutions Matrix rates you on your leadership and management abilities. The basic program allows you to answer the questions and then places your score on a graph for you to see. You can then post your score to Facebook. When you have your team complete the basic program you can see your splash as a leader and manager. Let’s take a look at how at how they developed the score:

Leadership can be rated on your ability to create a vision and inspiration. Can you create a vision that is compelling and can you inspire people to follow you. When you look back are people following?
Management is more mundane, but just as important. Do you have the basic knowledge to perform your job at the level required and do you have the ability to perform.

The Matrix is a fun way to receive your score as a leader or manager. More importantly, it is a way for you to gauge your effectiveness. Now, go to the Matrix site and get your score on these four basic skill sets, Vision, Inspiration, Knowledge and Ability. www.integritasleadership.net/matrix

Using stories to engage and teach.

A couple years ago, while teaching a group of public safety professionals, I was asked the best method for me to keep students engaged? I replied, “For me, I teach through stories”. That is why I am able to get seasoned professionals to stand on their chairs within five minutes of my opening. I create the visuals through stories and take my students on a trip that teaches them new information. After years of research, I found stories are the natural way people process information. By creating stories people create strong images in their minds that help them connect the pieces together. For millennia, people have been telling stories as part of their oral traditions. The first cave drawings were used to tell stories to other members of the tribe. Ten thousand years later, we can still look at the cave drawings, in France, and understand the meaning of the images. Aristotle, two thousand years ago, wrote down the parts we still use today to create a good story. When we watch movies, we wait for the lead character to tell the story that motivates the other characters to action.

The most influential leaders I have ever met spoke to people in ways that allowed everyone to join the overall story. You wrote your own part. You were a part of the team. You could make a difference. As a leader using stories to motivate employees, you do not have to be a hero, or someone with a spectacular past. Anyone with imagination can tell the story that moves someone to action; you just have to connect at the individual level.

Stories can be used to teach mathematics, science, police science, hydraulic pressure theory for firefighters, or other “dry” classes and still keep people riveted. Imagine Halley’s Comet hurtling past the earth every 70 years. Physics and stories explain why the comet is pulled past the earth on its way towards the sun; however, stories also tell what people thought when they saw it in the sky. In 1066, William the Conquer saw the comet and thought it was a sign to invade England. The ancient Romans thought it was a god riding a chariot through the skies. The Aztec Indians saw the comet as a sign to go to war. The stories suck you in so your mind grasps, and materializes, the images to create a meaningful form to transfer information. You can talk about the science behind Star Wars to help transfer complex theories of physics, engineering, or computer programming. Anyone can come up with a thousand stories to explain how biology works. One only has to make the connection at the individual to keep people engaged.
Remember, “It’s the Story”, the next time you get asked to talk about a subject and want to make an impact.

As a leader or manager are you the next Captain Bligh?

As a leader you strive to increase the performance of your team. Sometimes you only need to look in the mirror to see why things failed. One of the best known failures of leadership was Captain William Bligh, of HMS Bounty fame. Without getting too in-depth into a discussion of Bligh, I will try to make four important points that you probably didn’t learn in the movie and mistakes you may be also making.

First, Captain Bligh was an incredibly talented sailor. As a ships navigator he possessed incredible skills to plot accurate courses for the fleets. He knew the ships he sailed on from stem to stern. His abilities as a seaman were never in doubt. The best sea captains in the British Navy would recruit him to lead their ships on long distant voyages. When Captain Cook circumnavigated the world Lieutenant Bligh charted the course. Like many in the modern business world he was he was extremely competent at a baseline level, and eager to move up.

Second, As Bligh moved up the ranks he began to make many of the same mistakes I see in offices today. He had the competencies of his last assignment but could not satisfactorily make the jump to the next level of responsibility. Bligh failed as a leader because he violated many accepted codes of conduct required for the level of ship’s captain. His leadership and management values began to change. He lost contact with critical skills which made him great as a junior officer. I see many officer supervisors justify that they needed to change their values as they moved up because their new jobs required them to be more flexible. Wrong, as you move up you must maintain the values that made you successful or you will shift with the currents.

Third, Bligh attempted to be the popular captain. Many new leaders likewise try to be popular in their offices. By attempting to be popular he fluctuated in the levels of discipline he would accept from the crew. Four, he punished minor offenses more strictly than accepted levels on other ships. During severe incidents the punishment given was far less harsh than what was expected. In short, through fluctuating on punishments he left his crew guessing what the captain would do next. I see this same thing happening at all levels in modern industry. Leaders are afraid to take a consistent stand on performance that they actually cause lower performance and undercut their own credibility. Find out how effective your skills are as a leader and manager, and see if you are Captain Bligh.

Lessons for you to apply to be effective as a leader and manager:

• Build the skill sets required of your new level. Be as competent at your new level as you were at your old level. Know the important tasks to be accomplished.

• Maintain your value compass. Your values made you successful so don’t change what worked for you.

• Do not try to be popular. If you are a great leader first, a good manager second, then success will follow your team. Success creates popularity, not the other way around.

• Be consistent with rewards and punishment. Wavering on either one will cause people to question your judgment and this will impact your effectiveness.

Branding the Fire Fighters Creed

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Leadership Solutions, LLC facilitated a discussion to create a Fire Fighter motto at the 2012, Virginia Fire Chiefs Association Conference and Mid Atlantic Fire Expo.

Through a lengthy process, together, we created the motto: Courage, Committment, Professionalism

Courage: It takes courage to be a Fire Fighter. You must be willing to go into harms way. You run into danger as most people flee.

Committment: You must be committed to the highest standards to be successful. You must be committed to you team. station and community.

Professionalism: Your knowledge, training, and ability defines your level of professionalism, not whether you are a volunteer or career Fire Fighter.

Organizational Branding: More than a Logo – It is a Way of Life

A Vision and Mission statements describes your organization and where you want to go in the future. When in doubt, it provides a platform for people to make decisions, eg. a potential action is consistent with the values of the organization.
The Brand is much more; it describes what makes your organization special and differentiates you from the rest. The organizations brand strikes at all of the senses. It is more than a logo, it is a way of life. It answers the question, what does it mean to work for your organization? It should describe your history, customs and traditions that differentiate your organization. It connects and engages current employees to your organization. It energizes and builds pride in your community and potential customers. It attracts potential employees to you, while repelling potential applicants who may not “fit” well within your organization.
The potential impact of your organizational brand is enormous to your organizations success. Every organization has a brand. You can either control it yourself, or someone else will be in control.