“Take bully chefs off the menu.” This was the headline of a recent newspaper article. The article talked about the new reality that ‘bully chefs’ in the kitchens of successful restaurants are losing their status. The image of the Gordon Ramsey style chef screaming, swearing, belittling and demeaning the kitchen staff and throwing things is becoming unacceptable. Good people are walking away from those restaurants and going to work for the competition.
What is acceptable is to hire good people, have high standards and communicate those standards to people, challenge people to perform at their highest levels, expect that people will rise to the challenge, treat people with respect, model the desired behaviours and hold people accountable (including the chef).
I do not know Gordon Ramsey and he may not be the asshole he portrays on the show Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, too many up and coming chefs and leaders watch the show and think that because Gordon Ramsey is rich and famous that is how you get the most out of people.
What does this have to do with law enforcement training? Everything. Just like some up and coming chefs mistakenly believing that being a bully is the path to be a great chef, some law enforcement trainers have unfortunately learned the same lessons.
Law enforcement trainers likely learned those lessons somewhere other than watching reruns of Hell’s Kitchen. Where did they learn this style of leading and training?
- Watching Full Metal Jacket too many times.
- Selective memory of military boot camp (often many years ago). They tend to remember two things from boot camp a) being treated like crap and b) coming out a stud. They mistakenly believe that a) automatically leads to b).
- They went through a ‘boot camp’ style recruit academy and since they turned out pretty well, that must be the way to effectively train other people.
- It is how the agency has historically run it’s academy and the belief is that if this has served the organization for decades why change now.
- They have the mistaken belief that there are only two options with academies.
- The boot camp, in your face style.
- The college campus, no discipline, do what you want style.
I have written about this before and will continue to write about it until we finish making the shift in law enforcement academies. There are more than the above two options in academies. You can run an academy with high standards where people work hard, where you have demand people give you a full effort and you reward them when they do, where there is discipline and accountability and where you treat people with respect (teaching them to treat others with respect0.
I believe the ‘boot camp’ style of law enforcement academy produces three types of officers:
- Those that see it as a game. They play the game and when they graduate they go out in the field and do just fine.
- Those that learn that once you are in a position of authority you get to treat people the way you were treated. These officers are always in people’s faces and generate a lot of citizens complaints.
- Those that learn to be subservient. In the field these officers back down as soon as someone gets in their face. The trainers tend to go crazy when they see the videos from these confrontations.
We need to stop watching movies about military boot camp. We are not the military. We have different missions, different terms of engagement and the demographics of our recruit academies are very different. We also tend to miss the selection, training, mentoring and the art and science of the military drill instructors.
Screaming, yelling, swearing, and trying to stress people out are not effective strategies for training law enforcement professionals. It is time to think differently about training.
Take care and always remember Life’s Most Powerful Question – What’s Important Now?
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