First Responders… Is Your Administration Killing You?

By Sean Riley

There is one common theme that is presented to me by first responders over and over as I travel around the country for Safe Call Now… “ I can handle everything on the streets but my “Administration” is killing me… literally.” If you’re an administrator reading this, please take note, your own are reporting that you are taking their lives. Did you know by the year 2020 one of the top workplace disabilities will be anxiety and depression??? Where is this coming from, the studies indicate it is from you… The number one concern from the “boots” on the ground is that words do not match actions which leads to a double standard. This is an unhealthy balance in boundaries and ego states, I’ll go into this later.

In an informal survey first responders reported to me that the phrases they most commonly hear from administrators that frustrates them such as, “breadth and depth, threshold, projections for the future, committed towards growth and advancement, committed to ensuring, internal and external initiatives, as we traverse into the future, and the administration engages in periodic discussion, along with many others… “ This circular talk demonstrates to them that the administrator can’t or won’t answer the question or has no idea what they’re talking about. For the “boots”, everything you said before these terms is now hollow and the rest after these terms means nothing and they stopped listening. I once heard about a chief that was let go over the term breadth and depth that was used over and over. As William Shakespeare presents in Macbeth… “A tale told by an idiot… full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

So why does this happen? Is it pride and ego, narcissism or all of the above? I’m not sure what it is but here’s what I present around the country that may lead to this confusion or responses that concerns the “boots” on the ground. We all possess three ego states, the adult, the teenager and the child. The ego state that receives all of the training is the teenage ego state and it has to because it is the only ego state that fights. The one that needs to run into the burning building, the one that gets into that life and death struggle for the gun. It is also the ego state that is one better than others, has inappropriate relationships, is self-serving, narcissistic, egotistical, prideful and demonstrates many other negative behaviors.

The administrator always wants the “boots” to respond with the adult ego state in all situations yet they only receive training and reinforce the teenage ego state. Administrators are usually shocked when they are approached with what they deem as an inappropriate response from a subordinate. My response to them… “You trained them, you want them to respond differently, train them differently.” Common sense 101. I always chuckle when I read in the paper or see on the news that an administrator backs their personnel 100% in a civil suit but pays out $400,000 to someone and admits no fault. Now you just confused the “boot”. You want them to stand for the truth, be ethical in all matters but these actions contradict both truth and ethics and besides, where do I sign up for the $400,000 if you’re right???

Administrators… tell your “boots” the truth, no circular talk, answer their questions and may your words match your actions. There are great leaders out there and I get the honor to meet them on my travels. The common theme with their departments is they are the healthiest, have the least amount of complaints and the public loves them. It tells me a lot. Take care and you all stay safe out there!!! #ArmorUp

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