Tag Archives: collaboration

Knowledge and the Response to Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is complex. The response to trafficking is even more complex. That is the reason I’m writing, The Essential Abolitionist: What You Need to Know About Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery.

I’ve been involved in the fight against human trafficking for almost a decade; first managing the San Jose Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Force, and since 2011 as a consultant working with both governmental and private organizations to better understand, and respond, to human trafficking. It has been quite an experience; I’ve learned a lot through my involvement and worked with many wonderful and committed people. But I’ve also seen many efforts – even when backed with plenty of passion and money – struggle and fail due to lack of knowledge about  of the issue, the challenges of collaboration, or the intricacies of the multidisciplinary response. While there are several good books and resources helpful in learning about trafficking, no book currently exists that is based upon experience in the actual response to slavery. The Essential Abolitionist will fill this void.

The concept behind the book is rather simple. I put together a list of questions that I am consistently asked by people who are interested in trafficking, along with a list of the topics that I usually include in training programs or presentations. I view this information as essential to a foundational knowledge on the subject, and necessary to be as effective as possible in our efforts to assist victims, prosecute traffickers, and raise public awareness.

I then shared my list with several anti-trafficking colleagues, all of whom supported the concept behind the book, and many of whom have offered to contribute to the book. The Essential Abolitionist will not only educate those who desire a better understanding of human trafficking, but will be an asset for abolitionists in the future.

I’ve decided to self-publish the book for several reasons, but here are two: First, I can update information in the print and eBook more easily if needed, and; Two, I wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the project  – and not only by supporting it financially. Backers of The Essential Abolitionist will get to vote on the book cover, read early drafts, and support anti-trafficking efforts in their communities by sharing the book. Hopefully backers will feel they are not just giving support, but are actively involved in the response against trafficking.

Please visit the Kickstarter Project Page!

Then, do three things.
1 – Back the project.
2- Share the project with your friends and colleagues via email and social media – and ask them to support it. (Depending upon your social media platforms you may want to post more than once since not all of your contacts may see only one post. The campaign lasts only 30 days.)
3- Share this project with civic or faith communities, universities, or companies that want to support efforts fighting slavery. Everyone is opposed to slavery, and this is a great opportunity to get involved.

This project involves three of my greatest passions: leadership, collaboration, and the response to human trafficking. Thank you for your support!

(Motivated? Here are two additional things you can do. Follow me on Twitter (or just click the button on my home page), and “Like” The Essential Abolitionist Facebook page. Thanks!)

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.

 

 

3 Signs of Effective Leadership: Do You Experience These?

Talking recently with a friend about leadership, we explored how we might be able to identify if others perceive us as leaders? Formal leadership roles or formal authority – such as a rank – mean we hold positions of leadership, but we have all suffered the experience of answering to someone in a position of leadership who we would describe as a poor, or even terrible, leader. If we define leadership as something we all do (offering positive influence while working with others for a common good) then we should be able to recognize when others view us as practicing leadership effectively – regardless of our formal authority.

Here are three signs we can look for in our own experiences that will offer insight into how others perceive our practice of leadership. There are certainly many more than three, and experiencing all three does not necessarily make us excellent leaders These signs are also contextual; meaning, they are not simply black or white. But they are a start. Do you experience these?

1 – People seek you out for advice. Immediately context becomes important. I’m not referring to people who could be considered subordinate to you, but to people outside your immediate sphere of influence who seek your counsel because they respect your opinions and knowledge. If this person can curry your favor or receive something of value from you, it is not the same thing. Have you ever experienced someone contacting you out of the blue, maybe having received your name and a recommendation from a third party? This is what I’m talking about. The person coming to you wants to tap into your knowledge and experience. They want to learn from your experience of creating positive influence. While not necessarily saying it, they view you as a leader in your field or on a specific topic.

2- Dissent is freely given. When you are responsible (again, either formally or informally) for meetings, conferences, or discussions, do others feel free to dissent with others and – most importantly – you? An effective leader will encourage and sustain an environment where others feel confident they can dissent without repercussions. Leaders who allow dissenting opinions to be heard, discussed, and considered show they value everyone’s input. Not only are these leaders more likely to learn more and discover additional options, they promote cohesion among team members. Everyone feels they are part of the effort. On the other hand, if you do have formal authority over a group, and you do not hear dissenting views, if your subordinates just look at you and nod their heads, well, you are in trouble. You need to take a close look at your leadership practices. Effective leaders tolerate dissent, but never silence.

3 – You self-develop your leadership knowledge and skills. How often do you study topics related to leadership without being mandated? Attending a leadership course or listening to a speaker arranged through your employer doesn’t count. Do you have a real interest in the practice of leadership that inspires you to study and learn, to consistently develop your knowledge, traits, and skills? Do you notice how effective leaders are effective in many different settings? That’s because the practice of effective leadership crosses boundaries; a good leader will want to foster effective leadership practices regardless of the setting. Notice I’m not saying leaders will want to lead regardless of setting, but their positive influence will be felt. Leaders like to practice – or perform – leadership. If this description fits you, great! If you just like being “in charge”, it is time to reassess your practice of leadership.

Here is one extra sign: You regularly take time to examine your practice of leadership. So take a few minutes and look closely at your recent experiences to see if any of these three signs apply to you. Honest self-reflection is the most critical trait for a leader. If you like what you see, great. If what you see needs to be changed, start today. It is never too late to become a better leader.

Are You Involved in the Fight Against Trafficking? Then You Need This!

If you (or your organization) is actively opposing human trafficking in your community this resource is for you! The Human Trafficking Task Force e-Guide. The guide is newly updated and expanded, and is the only guide on task force operations available to the general public. While the guide uses the term “task force,” it is designed to assist any multidisciplinary-team approach to the prevention, investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, or to providing protection and services to victims of trafficking. Regardless of the term used for your organization (coalition, task force, collaborative, etc.), this e-guide will increase the efficiency and knowledge of your members, and your team as a whole.

The e-Guide offers guidelines to collaborative practices, along with more detailed information valuable to victim services providers, law enforcement investigators, and prosecutors. It also contains information on conducting public awareness campaigns, case studies, and a host of additional resources.

The complexities in responding to slavery can only be navigated with a multidisciplinary, victim-centered approach. Yet the work involved with engaging other professional sectors, creating a leadership system within the task force, and working together can be more difficult than the daily work of assisting victims, investigating incidents, or prosecuting traffickers. Much of my consulting work focuses on how individuals and agencies can improved their collaborative work. This e-guide fills a void, and should be studied by everyone involved in the response to trafficking.

Lastly, I was honored to be part of the consultant team on this project. It was a pleasure working with Amy, Jean, and Jack, along with the team at OVC/TTAC. Our hope is that this e-guide will help your organization in your efforts against human trafficking.