Always Growing—How to Be a Strong Leader in Any Season
As any cop will tell you, we assume a leadership role the day we hit the road. I spent too long assuming I would pick it all up as I went along. Turns out there is a whole world of leadership resources out there. In the past 2 years, I have been picking up a ton of books on leadership, and this past Christmas, my future in-laws were kind enough to indulge my reading habits. I received a book called Always Growing- How to be a Strong Leader in Any Season. It’s a fictional account of “David” accepting a leadership role at his company. Facing challenges with his new team, he turns to his sister, “Kelly,” who runs a successful orchard. What follows are a multitude of conversations between David and Kelly and David and his team mates. Kelly gives valuable lessons to David about agriculture that David metaphorically applies to the business world. It’s cheesy and very eye-roll inducing at times, but I’ll be damned if a lot of it didn’t make sense. Broken down into 4 parts: Grow, Cultivate, Prune, and Harvest; David learns lessons along the way to make his team as successful as possible. He “Grows” the team by making a plan, figuring out what his team needs to implement the plan, and providing the right environment to promote growth. He “Cultivates” his team by staying involved in the plan and ensuring nothing interferes with the growth. He “Prunes” his team helping them cut out things that might not contribute the most to their growth. Finally, he “Harvests.” The “Harvest” is the reaping of the rewards and celebrating the results.
As far as law enforcement, I think the most significant section to me was the section on “Pruning.” Starting out, cops need to establish their roots. They need to get a good foundation of all aspects of law enforcement to build on. I think as we cops start to grow, we all naturally start to find a niche that we enjoy. We might need to start pruning things out to make ourselves the most effective contributing member of our team. I’ve worked on squads where nobody focuses and just wants to do it all. I’ve also worked on squads where everybody has a skill set that stands out. We do a lot of work on our own out here, but when we combine the skills and efforts of everyone on the squad, we can get more done. We have guys who are great at dope work, we have guys who are great at interviewing, guys who are great at DUI investigations. To get to where we all are, we’ve had to decide where we wanted to go, and start saying no to opportunities that might stretch us too thin. We’ve had to self prune to make sure we can focus our energies on things we are best at. The author says to “prune at the first sign of undesirable outcomes.” I think from a leadership standpoint, this is key. Personally, I have had to make decisions on what to prune in my own career. I personally think I have good people skills. I removed myself from the Emergency Response Team and since then have moved on as an Instructor and a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator. I knew I could never be a negotiator if I was still on the team, so I had to prune in one place to grow in another.
To summarize, I liked the book. It was a very quick and easy read. I may never read the whole book again, and it might not be the first book I hand to someone else, but it has a lot of valuable information and I’d definitely recommend it if you get a chance to read it. The end of the book summarizes all the points made throughout and those points are pretty simple to understand without all of the context. Jones Loflin brings a lot to the table with this book as far as leadership principles. It’s very metaphor heavy, but it’s not as exhausting of a read as most leadership books. I’d give it a 7/10.