Category Archives: Leadership

Leadership, Collaboration, Response to Human Trafficking

Leadership, Collaboration, Response to Human Trafficking. These are the topics I address on my blog, teach to others, and speak about in public. While they may appear to be three different subjects, they are closely intertwined. Together, they also create lessons that are applicable to the world around us; the response to human trafficking is also my laboratory for practicing leadership and collaboration.

Human trafficking (the exploitation of a person’s labor or services, or forced commercial sexual exploitation, through force, fraud or coercion) impacts an estimated 24 million victims worldwide. The International Labour Organization estimates global revenue from trafficking (really, modern slavery) is $150B every year. The dynamics that lead to, and foster, human trafficking are varied and complex. But the dynamics involved in the response to trafficking are even more complex! Whenever a discussion focuses on how individuals and institutions respond to trafficking, the conversation inevitably shifts to topics of leadership and collaboration.

The “4 P Paradigm” is a model of response to human trafficking created and promoted by the federal government; Prevention, Protection (of victims), Prosecution, Partnership. The first three legs fail without Partnership, or collaboration. Sectors involved in the response to trafficking include: victim services providers; local police or sheriffs; federal law enforcement, including FBI and ICE/HSI; local and federal prosecutors; private organizations; community groups; and others. If an effective response is to occur, these sectors have to be able to work together to maximize their own effectiveness. An axiom in the response to trafficking is that no single agency (or sector) can address the problem of human trafficking alone. At a minimum, each sector must recognize that others sectors exist, and that each sector has it’s own mission and goals. Collaboration includes assisting others in achieving their goals. Collaborating in this sense is a learned skill; it requires traits and skills that many of us do not learn naturally and most have not been taught in any formal setting.

Leadership comes into play when discussing how collaborative groups are formed, how decisions are made, and who “leads” the group. This can be especially challenging in a group comprised of different professional cultures, varying levels of knowledge and experience regarding human trafficking, and institutional goals. There have been a lot of failures in the response to trafficking, and when examined closely these failures can usually be traced to issues of leadership and collaboration, not the passion to fight modern slavery.

Lessons of leadership and collaboration experienced in one environment can often be translated into other environments. While I write about the interplay of leadership and collaboration with the response to human trafficking, I also examine leadership and collaboration as they apply to other settings. Being involved in the response to trafficking allows me not only to work in developing effective responses to trafficking, it offers me the environment to practice collaboration and leadership, just as various positions during my career with the San Jose Police Department offered me opportunities to enhance my supervision and leadership skills. Every leader need a laboratory, if you will, in which to practice and develop their leadership skills; true leaders never stop developing their leadership skills.

The topics of leadership, collaboration, and the response to human trafficking are closely connected. Success against modern slavery require leadership and collaboration. At the same time, the development of leadership and collaboration trait and skills can be enhanced in any environment and for any purpose.

As you can see, the words at the top of my homepage are very closely related. Please subscribe to my blog – and share it with others – if you have interest in any of these topics.

Getting Thrown Under the Bus, or Not.

One of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes in history deserves a short examination under the lens of leadership. There is a critical lesson we can all learn from the post-game responses from the Seattle Seahawks’ leadership.

Head Coach Pete Carroll has told the press the decision to call the play which led to the now-infamous interception was his responsibility. Carroll immediately stepped up and took responsibility as every leader should. But wait, Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson has also taken responsibility, stating he agreed with the play selection and believed – as the football left his hand – that a touchdown was imminent. Both Carroll and Wilson have taken responsibility for the decision-making and execution of the play.

As a leader, do you take responsibility for the strategic or tactical decisions you make when the execution of your plan is in the hands of others? As the leader on the field, do you take responsibility for the outcome of your execution of another person’s plan? I hope so, because that is what effective leaders do. In the public response by Carroll and Wilson, nobody is being thrown under the bus. Meanwhile, countless media pundits and fans will look for someone to blame, to chastise, to throw under the bus. (Maybe, simply, credit should be given to Patriots’ rookie Malcolm Butler for a brilliant interception.)

While the play-calling decision and execution in the final 30 seconds of the 2015 Super Bowl will be debated for years (and was made on the most visible stage imaginable), everyday the rest of us, as leaders, face situations and decisions that offer the opportunity to throw someone under the bus – or not. Self-protection by blaming, demeaning, or chastising others in public is the fastest way to lose your credibility as a leader. Don’t throw others under the bus. Taking responsibility for the failures of your team will enhance your leadership credibility; just be prepared to determine the cause of failure and work as a team to correct them for the future. Luckily, few of us have to make decisions and execute a plan, while being watched (and, ultimately, second-guessed) by millions of people. But the impact on our team members as a result of how we act as leaders is just as critical.

Your team will work hard knowing you will take responsibility in the tough times. They will work even harder when the decisions and execution lead to success, and you give them all of the credit.