Your GPS Moment

March 10, 2020

We were completely lost…

We were somewhere east of Bryson City, NC deep into the mountains with tons of foliage above. We’d driven through the area multiple times, but we were trying to find a specific location and needed guidance on how to get there. The GPS in our car couldn’t get a signal! The cell phone had no signal. The only thing we had to go with was the good old-fashion magnetic compass and, hang on now Millennials, a map! Yes, that’s right an old-fashioned paper fold out map of North Carolina! With those two things we could finally figure out where we were and where we were going. We could craft a route to get to our destination. We had had a REAL world GPS moment! For those of us that travel extensively for work, having a real world GPS moment is a recurring situation, but today, I want to talk about what it means to have a leadership GPS moment.

In my book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line, I devote an entire chapter to helping you discover your leadership GPS moment and how to layout your pathway to success. Just as we shouldn’t drive in unfamiliar territory without the tools to help us find our way, we shouldn’t expect to lead or even map out our career without a strategic plan to get us where we are going. And yet, so many of us do just that! In this blog post, I will offer some suggestions on how to find your GPS moment and then develop a strategy that works for you.

Throughout my career, I’ve had many GPS moments. No, these aren’t crises that overwhelm you emotionally or mentally, these are turning points if you will where you make key decisions that chart a new course for you. This could be deciding whether to go back to get an advanced degree in college or whether to take that job that would advance your career, but might put your family at risk because the time of life for your children just isn’t right. Those decisions will impact your journey for sure, and should always be taken with caution and foresight.

Today I want to focus in on what it means to create a road map for success for yourself.  I call it Strategic Self-Discovery and it will certainly give you a step-by-step approach to crafting your GPS moment for leadership.

Why?  The first question to ask yourself is to envision your ideal future avatar. What do you look like? Where are living, working, doing? Who are interacting with on a daily basis? This “avatar” of yourself allows you to begin with the end in mind. By beginning with where your ideal self will be in (5, 10, 15, 20 years), you can then ask, and craft, your “why” statement.  This has three phases to it that I think work really, really well. This is simply a brief overview compared to the in-class activities we do in our Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose class or will offer on our LHLN member site later this year, but it will get you started in the right direction.

 Step 1: List those people in your life that have or do impact you in a profound way. I call them your Mount Rushmore people. What qualities to they possess? What values did they instill in you that make you who you are today?

Step 2: List those values out on a piece of paper and then group them into “like” core values or things that motivate you to action. Why do they do that?

Step 3: What motivates you to take action on those values? What skills do you possess naturally or learned that enhance your ability to take positive action so as to affect the lives of others in a specific positive way?

Step 4: Using the list of core values and motivators, craft a why statement from that that looks something like this  To (use a specific gift, talent, skill) so that (impact it will have on others)

You are Here:  I admit, I have a weakness for ice cream. On a trip many years ago, I recall heading to the local mall one evening after teaching and looking for an ice cream shop that someone had mentioned earlier that day. I walked into the nearest entrance and went straight to the directory – you know the one that every large building has – and as I looked at it, I saw a marking on it that said “You are Here”. By being shown clearly where I was, I could then navigate my way to that ice cream shop.  Leadership GPS moments are much the same. To find out where you are, you sometimes need to be told by a kind mentor, spouse, etc. before you can chart your course for growth.  When I had my first AHA moment about this, I was a young chief who was learning my way. I got great advice from three of my go-to books to this day: The Leadership Challenge by Posner and Kouzes, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and Winning Everyday by Lou Holtz. I learned more than I could share in a single blog post, but I will share these concepts and suggestion for self-growth.  Here are some quick tips for you to consider:

Know Yourself – know your personality, what motivates you, what your “non-negotiables” are. I talk at greater length about the layers of a leader in my class, Intentional Leadership, but these two are perhaps the most critical.

Personality – there are so many tools out on the market to help you understand yourself and others. I’m partial to the DISC because of its ease of assessment and it’s ease of use. In a fairly short amount of time, one can discover their primary behavior style, how it is perceived by others and how you can adjust your style to communicate better with others.

Motivators – unlike behavior that is readily observable, the things that motivate you to action can be very different. Understanding what drives you and what may drive others will make you a better leader of yourself and your team.

Evaluate Your Mindset – make sure you are clear on your mindset. Be honest with yourself and where you are at on your journey. Do you have a growth mindset? Or more of a fixed mindset? You can read more about this in my blog post (linkhere) on mindset and I encourage all of you to read Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset. Having the right mindset will allow you to be honest with yourself.

Plot Your Course – Once you know where you are, and, when you have an idea of where you want to be, you will be able to plot your course. Just as a ship’s captain does with his coordinates, you can develop your plan of action for your intended destination. Make sure your GPS device is getting a clear signal. This means having what I call “Check 6ers” or colleagues, mentors, friends that help you make course adjustments as you travel.

These are just some of my tips for finding your GPS moment and setting your course for growth and success. I hope these tips will help do just that and that it will help you stay on your pathway to intentional leadership.

Tell me your thoughts on this? Do you have other tips that I didn’t mention? I would love to hear them!

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Until next time,



Are you ‘All-in’?

March 3, 2020

Full disclosure, my sons and my money went to the University of South Carolina. Both played baseball for the Gamecocks and my loyalties are with them. However, many years ago while I was following them to a game against the cross-state rival, Clemson University, I found myself near the football practice area.  Spring practice had begun and I ran into then new head football coach, Dabo Swinney.

At the time, Swinney was probably in his 2nd or 3rd season as the head football coach at Clemson and was not the name he is now in college football. I walked up and introduced myself and was immediately struck by his connect-ability. I told him why I was at Clemson and he asked how my sons were playing and how the season was unfolding. He truly cared or at least was great at expressing it sincerely. We talked for a few minutes and he thanked me for being a law enforcement officer and we parted ways. As he walked on, I noticed a group of kids that came running up to him yelling “Coach Swinney, Coach Swinney”. He stopped and engaged each child and talked to them just as he had me. He bent down on a knee or lifted the smaller ones up in the air so that he could meet them face-to-face.  He spent several minutes with them and although I knew he was on his way to spring practice, not once with me, nor with the kids, did he ever say that or act as if he was pre-occupied with it.

That encounter has made me a big fan of Coach Swinney as a leader. A few lessons I have learned watching him over the years that I want to share with you today include:

  • ALL-IN: When he first came to Clemson, it was toward the end of the season and with only a few games left. He was replacing a relatively well-liked and successful coach at the time in Tommy Bowden who had just had a terrible season. The decision was made by the Athletic Director the Monday after a Clemson loss and Swinney literally talks about going into the janitor’s closet to talk to his wife about the move and told her he’d be home late that night because he already knew that he would have to make some bold personnel moves. Later, he held an all-team meeting where he talked to the players and coaches and asked what has now become Clemson’s rally cry to players and fans alike, “Are you All-In?” As a leader, you have to decide if you’re “all-in” and then ask your team if they are as well. Anyone that isn’t needs to be addressed immediately.
  • HUMBLENESS: Swinney showed his humbleness in that he knew he’d been given the opportunity of a lifetime, but many were not sure he was prepared. He showed humbleness toward his staff and team that had committed to being ‘all-in’ for helping achieve mutual goals. Anyone that looks at Swinney’s life can see he comes from very humble beginnings, but his optimism and willingness to put others first has created a recipe for success that is virtually unparalleled in the college football world today.


“I would love to hear your examples of leaders professionally and personally that exhibit some or all of these characteristics. Did I miss any? Tell me! I would love to hear them!”

  • HE EXPLAINED THE ‘WHY’: In that famous ‘All-in’ meeting with his team, Swinney explained to the players, the coaches, and fans what his football program at Clemson would be all about. That it was more than winning football games, it was about winning at life. He consistently says his program is about being the best at graduating students, growing boys into men, and being the best on the field. The stats back him up. Clemson has won awards for the highest graduation rate for a Division I football team and, with a few exceptions, has success stories of their players far beyond the gridiron.
  • OPTIMISM and ADVOCACY: Swinney is one of the most optimistic people you could meet. It’s infectious in fact. He advocates for his team with the media and the fans and, whether it is real or not, conveys a true positive image of himself and the program. Further, he advocates on behalf of the university and the team. In every post-game presser whether he wins or loses, he never once blames a player by name nor does he spend time on things he can’t control like officiating. Remarkably, he always finds something positive to say about the opponent. When his team loses such as in the national championship game, he uses the word “we” didn’t execute; “we” didn’t figure out how to manage what the opponent was doing. Many leaders and head coaches could learn the same. The best leaders put the spotlight on their team when things go well and take the responsibility when it doesn’t.
  • CONNECTIVITY: I will end where I began. Swinney is successful, just as most successful leaders are, because they live in the moment and make all they encounter the most important in that moment. How many leaders don’t do this? You can tell immediately that they are distracted by something else OR are simply not “all in” with you at that moment. Whether it’s a co-worker or a spouse or a child, being fully present is critical to becoming a successful leader.

I hope this post will spark your understanding of what makes a successful leader. I would love to hear your examples of leaders professionally and personally that exhibit some or all of these characteristics. Did I miss any? Tell me! I would love to hear.

I write every week to keep the growth going. It’s a two-way street and I learn as much from many of you and I hope you learn from me. Remember, be ‘All-in’ in your leadership goals, be clear on your ‘why’ of leaders and how that translates to the mission of your organization.

Remember, Leadership Rocks!



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Email Dean at or call him at 803-240-3024


Using the LRPS Model as an intentional leader

A few years back, I published my first book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Among many other topics on leadership, I introduced readers to my new model of leadership called the LRPS model. It looks like this:


The importance of this model has been made more clear to me in the years since I first published it as I traveled the country teaching my new course, Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose. In this blog post, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the model and how an intentional leader can use it to great effect.

In the Model, I mention that leadership in all sectors be it business, government, military or non-profit have all transitioned from a much more paternalistic system of leadership characterized by hierarchy, command and control, and formality to a more maternalistic leadership model of today’s workplace where collaboration, mentoring, and relationship have replaced the more rigid, formal structure we have seen in the past. This is in part due to a more diverse workplace AND, due to a mindset shift among workers who see the world much more holistically rather than linearly.

While this model does follow a chain-of-command model, the LRPS model adds the dimension of synergy to the mix that is holistic in nature. It places special emphasis on partnerships in the workplace between leader and follower as well as follower to follower. Creating that connection can take many forms and I will discuss some tips I have for that. But first, I want to explain the model in very simple terms:

Leadership is defined by me with four ‘I’ words: influence, inspire, initiate, and inclusion. Effective leaders find ways to influence, inspire and include others and find ways to initiate action. There are usually two ways that leaders decide to do this. The first way is through manipulation which means they choose to influence, inspire, include and initiate through fear or positional power. The second (and I believe better way) is to do these same things through a shared vision with their people. So how do that do that? Well that’s where the other component parts of the LPRS Model come into play!

First, you must establish Relationship with those you lead. I believe this is done through three foundational pillars of proximal relations – you actually spend time with your people to get to know them and vis a versa; working trust – by spending time with each other, a trust is developed between leader and follower that allows for good working relationships to develop and grow; and by doing the first two, you develop shared expectations for the growth of the individual and the growth of the organization. This leads to the creation of partnerships in the workplace between leader and follower. The key components of creating partnership in today’s workplace includes mutual respect that comes from effective relationships, solid three-way communication that includes leader to follower and follower to follower as well as follower to leader; and establishing common values for the organization. The first two must be developed before the final and key part of the equation is created – synergy. When one has created partnership, they have usually done so through hard work on building relationships and partnerships with their employees.

Relationships are first because they are the key building block for developing partnerships. They take time to develop and establish a solid foundation. But the time is worth it to the leader that wants to create an inspired workplace. Remember it is through relationships, not directives, that leaders truly provide direction. Subsequently, it is through partnerships, trust, and values that people will follow leaders. This will become even more important as Millennials and iGens enter the workforce. Their holistic approach to everything they do will require leaders to create a workplace where relationship and partnership are the main components. It is through these that true synergy in the workplace is created. Synergy, after all, is the result of effective leadership creating relationship and partnership, that leads to working together to produce a desired result through a common purpose.

As I’ve taught the LRPS Model as part of my new signature course, Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose, I find that it helps to take a self-reflective look at where you are with each of these components. Ask yourself some deep questions to truly analyze where you are with the creation of synergy in the workplace. If you go to the website, and login you will find a downloadable pdf with a simple assessment on it. Don’t over-count or under-count your efforts. Most of us are NOT really where we want to be or should be as a leader. The key to growth is honestly appraising your current circumstance so that you can achieve your desired destination – your GPS moment as I call it.

Some tips I’ve learned through the years in applying this model in my own leadership include some of the following:

  • Really understand your employees and what makes them unique. You don’t have to be their parent or family member, but you should understand what
    • Behaviors/personality traits they exhibit
    • What motivates them
    • What their personal goals are professionally
    • Understand what may be happening in their personal lives that may be affecting their work performance – this isn’t excusing poor performance, but allowing you as a leader to show empathy and offer guidance on how an employee can manage personal setbacks without it affecting work performance.
  • You must spend time with people. Yes, there are assessments out there and those are always helpful, but to truly understand what a person’s true goals and aspirations are takes time and effort on a leader’s part to help that person know what they need to do themselves to grow. I used to make sure I had lunch with my key staff people at least once per month and made myself visible and available to my entire staff as much as possible.
  • Take time daily to reflect on your professional (and personal) interactions to learn from them. What went well in that conversation with an employee and what didn’t. Did I as the leader allow myself to be triggered into a negative reaction? How can I learn from that and recognize it next time before I react and instead respond to the event.
  • What actions as a leader can I take to foster the professional growth of my staff?
    • Can I do a better job of relinquishing control and allowing an employee the opportunity to grow by giving them permission to handle a responsibility whether they succeed or fail?
    • What responsibilities am I doing that could be taught or shared with a capable subordinate so that they can learn and grow?

Let me know your thoughts on this and other blog posts by logging in and commenting or email me at the address below. How do you grow your people? What things do you do daily, weekly, monthly to foster relationship and partnership in the workplace?

Thank you and remember to put your leadership into action this week!



Note: Leadership Lesson from the Thin Blue Line will be re-released this Spring! We will notify you when it is available on all major platforms!


Ruby Cobb

Dean Crisp is author of Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Throughout his career of more than 35 years, Dean has been a student, practitioner and now a teacher of leadership. He is passionate about giving people the information they need in a practical and applicable manner so as to help his students achieve a purpose-driven life. You can reach Dean at Learn more about our classes and how you can have Dean teach your staff by going to our website at 


creating your “why” statement

Dean Crisp is an author, coach, and leadership development instructor who travels throughout North America to teach his Intentional Leadership class. Check out our class schedule at 

In this week’s blog, I want to continue the discussion of the importance of knowing your ‘why’ and giving you some tips on how to create your own ‘why’ statement.  Simon Sinek is credited with starting the ‘why’ statement movement with his book and TedTalk called Start With Why.  It’s a great book and one that I highly recommend to all of my students and coaching clients. His signature statement in that book is “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Humans respond to emotion and tend to buy products because of how it makes them feel. Take a diehard sports fan for any professional or college team. The more the fan has good “feelings” from their experience at the games, the less the cost of the ticket matters.

So, this week I want to give you a simple exercise that will show you how to create your why statement. Once you have done this, refined it, etc. you will realize how easy it is to filter your decision making at home and at work.

First, list the significant events in your life as well as the people associated with this. These can be good or bad events but the point is to list the events you remember as far back as you can on a simple continuum:



Not so good

Second, list the people that you would consider major influences on your life and why that is. I call these your Mt. Rushmore people

Thirdly, from the previous two exercises, list the themes, values and motivations that get you out of bed each morning. List the most inspiring of them that really speak to you. This isn’t easy sometimes, but if you really listen to your inner voice, you will know what themes you see throughout your life and what values really motivate you to action.

Next, for each area of your life state “WHAT” you do and then “HOW”  you do it. This will help clarify for you the difference between WHAT, HOW and WHY.  Many people will accidentally think they’ve created a “WHY” statement, which is the driving force behind WHAT and HOW you do things, as a WHAT statement. By listing WHAT and HOW you do things in each area of life, it will help you avoid making a WHAT statement into your WHY statement. 

This will start to show your Golden Circle as Sinek calls it.

Image result for sinek golden circle

Finally, take a stab at writing your WHY statement. It will look something like this

To (your contribution) SO THAT (the impact you hope to have)

Some examples of why statements are:

“To inform, inspire and educate others so that we may help them live a purpose-driven life.”  -Crisp Consulting Group

“To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.’   -Simon Sinek

Use your HOWS that you listed above to filter those activities that don’t align with our “why” Your HOWS are your strengths, what you do well. “See the big picture” “Act with humanity” “Develop Aesthetically-pleasing personal productivity devices” etc.  These become the recipe for your success and for implementing your WHY into WHAT you do.

In summary, I hope this helps many of you who reach out saying that you are struggling to create your ‘why’ statement. Really, it takes some time alone or with a trusted colleague to help you identify these things. We don’t recommend a spouse or really close friend, but someone who does know you well enough and who can be honest with you in identifying the themes of your life. You can also do this on your own as long as you can be objective and honest with yourself.

The goal is to truly reflect on these things and come up with a why statement that works for you both at work and at home.  Let me hear your thoughts on this and other blog posts. Log in and comment on the blog or email me below. At Leaders Helping Leaders, we are all teachers and we are all students of leadership. Let’s grow together and remember Leadership Rocks!


Why ‘Why’ Changes Everything…

February 11, 2020

When I first became chief at 34 years of age, there wasn’t a thing called “Google” or the internet. There were no blogs, there were no websites where a young leader could go to find relevant information.  There was the library. One of the first books I remember reading was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Since then, I’ve re-read it among many other books on leadership multiple times.

One of the first things I developed as part of my leadership philosophy is what I called the “Do Right” Doctrine – “Do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time and in the right way.”  It was the closest I would come for many years to developing my “why” of leadership.

Over the next several decades, I began to understand more and more about leading others and how difficult it was depending on the maturity level of the leaders I was trying to develop. I didn’t fully develop this concept until recently when I took what Covey had created with the Levels of the 7 Habits (Levels 1, 2, and 3) and created three levels of maturity of leaders (Dependent, Independent and Interdependent).

Those who are Dependent leaders tend to be at the survival stage of leadership. Their focus is on “I” or what affects them personally. All or most of us start there and, over time mature to the next level. Independent leaders have matured to become successful leaders and their focus tends to be on “We”. Many leaders will spend their entire career at the “We” stage and think they’ve been great leaders. However, it isn’t until you decide to become an Interdependent leader that you have reached the maturity level of a significant leader. You become that person who has hundreds at their funeral saying “that person was a significant person in my life.

Significant leaders see the bigger picture. Significant leaders know and live their “why” of leadership. They know how to explain that “why” to others and have a methodology of leading that raises the maturity level of those they lead. 

Your “why” is key to determining the maturity level of yourself as a leader as well as the maturity level of those you lead. I believe this so strongly that I challenge each of you to think about what your “why” statement is. My exercise for this is simple, just follow these steps:

  • list three people who would be on your personal Mount Rushmore if you will.
  • Think about and list the qualities of those 3 individuals on your Mt. Rushmore
  • Then answer the following questions:
    1. Why did you take the job as a leader?
    2. What do you want to accomplish as a leader?
    3. What do you want your leadership legacy to be?
  • Then list your main professional roles and separately your main personal roles
  • Craft a “why” statement for each of those roles

Some folks find it easier to develop one overarching “why” statement that explains why they do what they do as a professional, a parent, a spouse, a friend, etc.  The statement won’t be perfect and will likely be changed many times over the years, however, the key is to think through those significant events and people that have shaped you and made you who you are. What were the values, character traits, etc. that impacted you and then write it down.

Our LHLN company “why” statement is ‘to inform, inspire and educate others so as to help them live a purpose-driven life.’  

It’s simple and clearly explains what we are all about – changing the lives of those we touch every day for the better.

Knowing your “why” provides clarity. It provides purpose to your leadership. Simon Sinek who started the “why” statement movement said it best and it applies to all businesses and all people working on their why statement.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy “why” you do it.”

So what’s your “why”? Please share it in our blog forum. We would love to hear your thoughts. Also, be sure to follow us on social media:

Twitter:    @LHLN5

Facebook:  LHLN

Instagram: LHLNCRISP

LinkedIn: LHLN

As always, leadership rocks!


Author, Instructor, Coach

Dean Crisp

“Knowing your ‘why’ provides clarity.”



This week is a watershed week at LHLN, we kicked off our first Master Trainer Class in Asheville with 23 committed leaders. I’m excited to be joined by my friend and colleague, Tim Plotts, a fellow FBI-LEEDA Instructor and retired North Carolina Highway Patrol officer. Together we are working with some very dedicated leaders this week who are determined to improve their presentation skills this week. This class is not for everyone, but it is designed for those who truly want to be the best leaders they can be. I truly believe that your ability to communicate and, more importantly, to connect are the key to any leader’s influence over their followers.

One of the first “assignments” we gave the class was to develop a two-minute answer to one of the following questions:

  • What does intentional leadership mean to you?


  • What does it mean to be “intentional”

LHLN’s signature class is Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose. I created this class because I believe 21st century leadership requires a different approach. In my decade plus as an FBI-LEEDA instructor, l have met so many leaders – truly excellent leaders. I’ve also met my fair share of well-intended leaders that didn’t have a clue what they were doing. They had been promoted with absolutely no leadership development training or even management training. Often, they defaulted their leadership style to what they had observed in their previous supervisors. What one colleague calls “your lowest level of learning.”

Unfortunately, this often leads to leaders who are TRANSACTIONAL  in nature or “do what I tell you to do” as opposed to TRANSFORMATIONAL “how can I as a leader make you want to be the best version of yourself.”

So, as creator and instructor of this class, I talk about being an intentional leader a lot AND I truly believe that being “intentional” is the key to successful leadership whether it be as a parent or a supervisor. To me, being intentional means far more than being thoughtful, it means being thoroughly “present” in all leadership decision you make. To be intentional translates into being mindful of the BIG PICTURE of your leadership.

The definition of “Intentional” ranges the gambit. Some refer to it as a state of consciousness with or without content. Others relate it to intense focus on a task or person. Still others will define it as to do something on purpose such as “they intentionally ran the red light.”

In reality, what it means to be intentional or to act with intentionality will vary with each person and each leader. So, rather than give you my answer, I want to hear from you. Take a few minutes one day this week and reflect on what it means to you to act with intentionality and/or to be an intentional leader. See if you can develop a comprehensive explanation that you can explain to your staff, children, or others you lead as a coach or teacher that you can deliver to them in less than 2 minutes.

I would love to hear from you as to what your answers are. Log in and comment on the blog or email me with your thoughts.  I learn as much from you as many have told me you learn from me. I will look forward to hearing your ideas and thoughts on this very important topic.

To be a successful, transformational 21st Century leader means to act with intentionality. To understand in your own words and your own ideas what it is to be intentional as a leader will make you successful, and, even more importantly, to have a positive influence on all of those you lead in both your personal and professional life.


“Ask yourself the question what does it mean to be intentional as a leader? Are you a TRANSACTIONAL or a TRANSFORMATIONAL leader? To answer this question, you must know what kind of leader you are now and what kind of leader you wish to be.”

Dean Crisp is the author of Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line and creator of Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose class.   Dean records a weekly podcast, Straight Talk on Leadership with Dean Crisp available on iTunes, Spotify or wherever to stream your podcast media.

Visit our website at to discover our class offerings and to sign up for a future class in either Intentional Leadership or Master Trainer/Presenter.



Holistic vs Linear Thinking

Understanding this is more than a theory, it’s critical for the 21st Century Leader

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of bringing my Leading Multiple Generations in the 21st Century to the Atlanta area where we had more than 100 eager-to-learn law enforcement leaders. Most of the leaders were in the two “older” generations in the workforce: Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. However, we did have a few Millennials. Most iGens (under 24) are just now entering the workforce. More on this later.

This ½-day seminar focuses on the general characteristics and differences of each generation, what motivates them, how to recruit them and how to train and retain them. One of key elemental differences (besides the differences in technology use, how they view the workforce, etc.) is how the generations think so differently.  Boomers and Xers were raised in an environment where they were taught to think linearly while Millennials and iGens were raised in an age where they naturally think holistically.

So, what exactly does this mean?

Author Daniel Pink talks about the differences in his book A Whole New Mind. A great read for any leader wanting to understand this further.  Pink explains that everyone’s brain has two parts: the left hemisphere for details and the right hemisphere for more holistic or big-picture concepts.  He goes further into the details of how as we leave the Information Age and enter the Conceptual Age, right-brain thinking will become critical.

Interestingly, it is the technology developments of the information age that have created the right-brain, holistic-thinking generations of Millennials and iGens. For these two younger generations, the availability of information literally at our fingertips since they were very young (iGens are those born mostly 1995 and later and have never known a world without cell phones) has rewired the brain. Even for us old timers (Boomers and Xers) the availability of information in a moment’s notice or by the touch of a button is also rewiring ours.


The difference for today’s leaders, especially in professions such as law enforcement, is that traditionally, we think very linearly or left-brain. Mainly for survival and efficiency, but also out of tradition of the profession. When you think of a routine traffic stop where you ask for driver’s license and registration you are separating the action (speeding) from the person. A linear thinker separates the parts of the action while a holistic thinker will consider the entire scenario. A younger officer might know to ask these ‘traditional” questions, but will also maybe ask why were they in such a hurry? Was someone ill? Was there an emergency? The Millennial and the iGen are driven much more by seeing the person and the Big Picture.

This is why it is so VERY, VERY important for recruiters, trainers, and leaders to understand the importance of explaining the WHY of their organization and their leadership philosophy to their younger workers. Because they view the world holistically and sees everything and everyone as interconnected, many Millennials and iGens want to understand what and, more importantly, why they are being asked to do what they do. Going back to the traffic stop scenario. It may seem simple enough to a linear thinker that speeding equates law breaking, but when a holistic thinker has the “why” explained to them as to the importance to the entire community of enforcing speeding laws, then they can embrace their duties as being part of a bigger picture of creating a safe community. 

I know this seems very simplistic, but because of the sheer amount of information available to everyone, every day, it has shrunk the world and made all of us think more conceptually and holistically.  When it comes to recruiting a new generation of law enforcement officers and future leaders, understanding the difference between how many of the leaders of today think “linearly” and how the two younger generations think more “holistically” will actually simplify your leadership. It will allow you as a leader to have empathy with them in how they are understanding their role within the organization and help them grow into the leaders we will need tomorrow.

I challenge you to take a look at yourself and how you think and to read up on both these two younger generations and the concept of linear vs holistic thinking.



“This is why it is so VERY, VERY important for recruiters, trainers, and leaders to understand the importance of explaining the WHY of their organization and their leadership philosophy to their younger workers.”

Dean Crisp

Author, Instructor, Mentor


It’s Lonely at the Top

Why Self-Reflection is a leader’s self-preservation

I’ve spoken in the past about self-reflection and the critical role it plays in a leader’s success as the rise through the ranks of an organization. Too often, we are to reliant on others to help fill the need to converse about a problem or a topic of concern. Engaging others not at your level in the organization becomes riskier the more powerful your role is.

As an example, a recently appointed police chief or elected sheriff will find the job particularly lonely at first. Friends from lower ranks within the organization will assume nothing has changed in their relationship with the new chief executive, and yet, everything has changed. Nearly every conversation you’ve had to that point and every conversation you have from that point on could cause tremendous internal conflict within the organization. A simple conversation you had with that sergeant three weeks ago about a policy recommendation now becomes a potential expectation for implementation of that policy whether you are ready as the chief executive to do it or not.

When I talk about self-reflection as a leader, it is to truly take the time on a regular basis to assess the conversations you’ve had with people. What went well or not in those conversations and to take time to think through how to improve for next time. Self-reflection is NOT a touchy-feely-middle-school-girl-diary exercise, it is a true, honest reflection of how you are doing. Remember, the higher in the organization you go, the fewer the people with whom you can commiserate about things. I dare say by the time most are at the command staff level, you better have a successful process in place to self-reflect and self-heal.

Many times, we want to vent at a co-worker about what so and so did today, but many times that is the absolute worst thing you can do to help yourself professionally and personally to grow. Find what works for you. What has worked for me is journaling. Actually, taking the time to write down the events of the day that impacted my leadership – both good and bad has helped me to process what transpired and to see the significance or insignificance of it without involving other people in the organization. Some go for a vigorous workout and think through the day’s problems, and I’ve done that too. Getting the adrenaline flowing can help process negative events of the day. Others, prefer to have time for quiet reflection whether it be in meditation or prayer. Whatever works for you as a leader is what you need to do. Learn to cope on your own. Understand that there is a reason for the saying “It’s lonely at the top.”

The point is do something. Learning early in your career that a process to self-reflect and self-heal is more important to your personal and professional growth as a leader than joining the gripe session at the office water cooler. Remember, the coworkers you confide in today, may be your supervisor or your subordinate tomorrow. Act like a leader today.


You can gain a more in depth understanding of self-reflection by taking my Intentional Leadership: Leading with a Purpose class. Check our website for upcoming class locations. Email Dean at  about the blog. Questions about the class email Kelle Corvin at

“Learning early in your career that a process to self-reflect and self-heal is more important to your personal and professional growth as a leader than joining the gripe session at the office water cooler.”


Creating an Inspired Workplace

The keys to creating one

Do you have an inspired workplace?

One of the questions I’m often asked when on the road teaching, is how to make your employees feel inspired to do their job? It’s a difficult one for many leaders, however, there are some simple tips you can embrace that will begin to create a culture of inspiration.

Most workplace environments are characterized by inspiration or manipulation. Let’s examine each. I’ll start with manipulation, which is far more common in this day and age than one would think. A manipulated workforce is one that has the 3 F’s as I call them:

  • Fear – leaders intimidate, threaten and bully employees into doing their bidding. This has the typical outcome for leaders that embrace this: employees do exactly what is expected so as to avoid retribution and then don’t care about the outcome of their actions. They often hate their job and hate their boss – and for good reason! If you’ve ever worked for someone that manages this way, it isn’t fun. You feel belittled, trapped and by NO means do you feel inspired to do your work.
  • Force – similar to fear, managers (notice I will not call them leaders) rule by force. In their world, there is no discussion, no explanation, just a do as I say or else. Employees are quite frankly treated like children. Their ability to make an independent decision or to even care about the outcome is overpowered by the force their manager has placed on them. Even if the employee had a good idea that would achieve an even better outcome, the “Fear” manager refuses to listen or even solicit input from staff.
  • Facts – the slightly more sophisticated manipulative manager rules by facts. He or she is obsessed with information but it’s only the information that backs up their position – a sort of confirmation bias if you will. The result is a workforce that simply throws up their hands. They view their manager or boss as someone who is a know-it-all always spouting facts but never listening to any counter facts.

In each of these manipulative work environments, managers create stagnant barely functional organizations. Turnover is often very high especially among the Millennial and iGen generations who’s holistic approach to problem solving simply doesn’t mesh with this style. Those employees that do stay, often develop health issues related to the stress this type of environment creates. It’s truly toxic.

A better, modern and more effective approach that true leaders understand is to lead through inspiration. Creating an inspired workplace doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be fun! With a little self-reflection and determination as to where you and your people are as leaders, you can develop a strategy that will lead to an inspired workplace. Here are 7 tips I offer to leaders hoping to do just that:

  • Develop your “why” statement of leadership. This is a simple process that I teach in my Intentional Leadership Class. It’s looking at your personal values and that of your organization and determining what you want your department, division, task force, etc. to be about. It looks something like this “To (do something so as (to create a result)” An example is my Operations Manager’s why statement for her role in our company “To provide the information, infrastructure and support SO that our instructors and employees can positively change the lives of all we touch”
  • Explain your “why” statement of leadership to your people. It’s great if you develop your why of leadership, but if no one knows what it is, how in the world can you expect them to change their view of what they do if they don’t understand what your vision is?
  • Create a partnership with your people. I talk about this at length in my book, Leadership Lessons from the Thin Blue Line. Simply put, if you explain your ‘why’ to where your people understand, you are asking them to join with you or “partner” with you to create the future. Your asking for their input on what can be done to make that vision a reality and to make that why statement truly mean something not only to you but to them.
  • Partnership is created through relationship. Again, in my book, I outline that creating a partnership doesn’t just “happen” but requires effort on your part to show your people that you truly want to know who they are.
  • Spending time with them creates a relationship. Making a point to be available to your people (the so-called open door policy) is well and good for leaders to practice, but do your best to meet your people at their level. Get out in the field. Spend some off-duty time with them in a non-work setting like bowling, softball game, etc. You will be surprised what you learn about them and it will show them that you truly care.
  • People need to know you care. If you have successfully built a partnership through relationship, then your people will know you care. It creates a synergy that makes them feel empowered to execute the why of the organization, department, etc. They are aware of what the ultimate outcome is and know that you will work with them to create positive outcomes for all. It means letting them fail sometimes so that they learn and it means letting them figure out how to solve the problem on their own without your direction. This grows future leaders and empowers them to be better.
  • Create Buy-In. Ultimately, this is what all bosses, managers and leaders really want but it’s the “how” that separates the inspirational leader from the manipulative leader. If you execute the first six tips, you will create a buy-in that is far superior and far less toxic than the manipulated workplace.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic. Please check out my podcast Straight Talk on Leadership with Dean Crisp, Episode 11: Creating and Cultivating an Inspired Workplace where I go in depth into this topic. The podcast is available on most listening platforms like iTunes and Spotify. Be sure to subscribe, like and rate our podcast. Subscribing means you won’t miss an episode and liking and rating helps us!

I welcome your stories on your leadership experiences on this topic and others. Be sure to sign up on our website for free and join the conversation!






“Ultimately, buy-in is what all managers, bosses and leaders want from their people. It’s the process of getting their that differs drastically between a “manager” or a “boss” and a true Leader.”

Setting Achievable Goals

Goal Setting for a New Year

Posted January 8, 2020

So, a new year, 2020 is upon us and I’m often asked by leaders how to set effective goals for a new year. First, this is where self-reflection really makes this process much more effective and realistic to achieve. As many of you know I’m a huge proponent of journaling (and no it isn’t the “dear diary” stuff of teenage girls), I’m talking mature, self-reflection of how you handled professional and personal situations of import in your life so that you can review and learn from them. It’s why every attendee of an Intentional Leadership class receives a “starter” journal to get them in the habit of doing just that – writing about their experiences as a leader.  So, if you have been writing in your journals on a regular basis, you have a record of what you have seen as areas needing improvement for you to advance as a leader and, hopefully a list of possible focus areas for new year goals.

In this post, I will share with you some thoughts on how I have done this in my leadership journey and what I’ve found works effectively. First, I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the concept of S.M.A.R.T. when setting goals: make them Specific; make them Measurable; make them Achievable; make them Relevant to your leadership; and finally, are they Timebound. If any of these aspects of SMART are not clearly defined, the goal is likely going to fail. It’s why most new year’s resolutions fail.

Goal setting only works if you are “all-in” in your leadership. The goals you set must stretch you and must be specific to each area of your life you wish to focus on. When you are new to the process, I recommend picking one personal goal and one professional goal to work on for a short period of time. It might look something like this:

Personal – to make sure I eat dinner with my family at least 3 times each week.

Professional – to read one book that grows me a leader each month (if you are not a reader) and maybe one book per week if you are a reader.

So what to do if you are more advanced and want to really work on multiple areas at one time? Recently, I read an article by Dr. Kenneth Acha, who wrote about the three types of goals: outcome, process and performance goals. Each goal varies from the other based on the amount of control you wish to have. For example, we typically have the most control over process goals, while outcome goals give us the least control. An example of this would be NCAA sports. A coach can set a goal for the team of winning their division and conference championship knowing they have the most control over these based on talent and player health, but stop short of setting a goal of winning a national championship because the coach has little control over whether they will even be in a position to compete. What the coach knows, is by setting the division and conference goals, they are giving their team achievable and specific targets to hit that put them in the best position to compete for a national championship.

The second set of goals are process goals, Acha explains that process goals allow you to set the “procedures” that will put you in a position to achieve the desired success or outcome. Continuing with the NCAA analogy, this would mean how much practice the team will do, how they will do it? What drills they will run? What scrimmages will they do to challenge the team to be it’s best? What nutritional program and study assistance with the student athletes require to help them stay on target physically, mentally and emotionally? What will coaches do to impact player mindset? All of these do not predict the outcome, but the develop a specific strategy and process for how the players will condition themselves to be in position to achieve those outcome goals. Finally, Acha talks about Performance goals or the standards you will use to achieve your goals. So, the NCAA team might say we will win our division and conference titles by training ourselves mentally and physically daily so that we are in peak condition to compete and win our division and conference championship.

Visually it might look something like this:

Goal setting involves setting a series of short-term goals that are achievable. For example, if your goal is to lose weight this year, then start by setting a short-term goal that levels up from where you are. If you haven’t been exercising, then start by committing to working out a set number of days each week for 30 minutes each. Try to stick with it first for 3 weeks. Studies have shown that it takes about 21 days to change any habit. Then level up again. For the next 3 weeks try eliminating sugar on all days but Saturday and continuing your exercise. Then add another and another for each successive 3 weeks. The same can hold true for any area of your life be it your relationship with your spouse, your kids or your co-workers. Pick one thing you feel is important and focus on executing consistently for at least 3 weeks. Soon it will become part of your daily routine.

Goal setting can be fun when it’s done right. Don’t sit down this week and write a list of resolutions that sound great but won’t go anywhere! Instead, really reflect on what you want to improve this year as a leader at work and in life. Pick one behavior related to that, that you can change and do it for 3 weeks and then add another behavior to it. After a few months, you’ll be surprised how much your mindset has changed and how much you’ve accomplished.

I want to hear what some of your goals are for 2020 as leaders. Please share in the comments or on Twitter at @LHLN by Dean Crisp.

I look forward to seeing each of you gain clarity in 2020 as to the type of leader you wish to be.



Article by Dr. Kenneth Acha


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“Goal setting can be fun when it’s done right.”