We are big fans of Left of Bang – one of the most, if not the most, officer safety books that has come out in the past decade. There is so much in there that can enhance the way that officers perform their daily tasks. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to. In fact, click here to order it.
Today, though, we are going to apply the “left of bang” concept to leadership. If you’ve attended any of our trainings or have read any other blogs, you know that we use the word “intentional” a lot. Intentional is what left of bang is all about.
Too often in law enforcement, an agency will experience a significant event that probably was preventable. It could be a questionable use of force, a pursuit that was allowed to continue when it should not have been, or personnel issue. After the event, many times people will be heard saying something akin to, “I knew that was going to happen” or “Anybody could see that coming.”
When I hear that kind of talk, there are two things that come to mind. The first, did the person(s) actually know that the event was – probably, likely, might – occur? Or was it simply a matter of once the event occurred they could look back, with the benefit of hindsight 20/20 and reasonably suspect it might? Most of the time it is the latter. It is a lot like the sports writer who will go back and assign grades to draft picks that were made 5 years ago. Wow. With 5 years’ worth of NFL game data, they can go back and see who made the best choice. You know, the choice that was made BEFORE there was any data from playing in an NFL game. It’s easy to be a draft genius after the fact.
The second thing that comes to mind is this – if you knew that this event was – probably, likely, might – occur, then why didn’t you do anything to stop it? If you knew that this potentially life-threatening, or career-ending, or just plain embarrassing incident was coming, why didn’t you step in and prevent it? If you saw a kid in the roadway with a car coming, wouldn’t you step in and get the kid out of the road before they were hit? Of course you would. Then why don’t we do the same with our brothers and sisters that we work with?
It’s easy to be right of bang – to respond and react after the significant event has occurred. Leaders look, intentionally and regularly, to prevent these types of things from occurring in the first place. In other words, leaders are left of bang. To protect others, to protect their agency, and to protect the profession. Get left of bang and stay there!