Our K9 Officers: True Examples of All-In Leadership

#all-in leadership #bloomwhereplanted #k9officers #nationallawenforcementweek May 10, 2022

Before I start this week’s blog post, I want to take a moment to commemorate the start of National Police Week. I believe the events begin today with a memorial dedication to our fallen K9 officers. As a company, we are featuring K9 Cigo (pronouned see-go) from Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office who was shot in the line of duty on Christmas Eve. You can read the entire story here.

(Cigo received a hero’s memorial service which you can actually watch on YouTube here!)

I’m a dog lover and my family are all dog lovers, as well. Between all of us, we have been blessed with more than a dozen dogs. I raise this, because canines are the epitome of being "all in".

In this week’s podcast, I talk about the importance of being all-in as a leader and offer some tips on how to remain all-in. Dogs are naturally loyal and come with a sweetness that most human don’t possess. They are forgiving of humans to a fault and are dedicated to the role for which they’ve been trained.

As a chief, I’ve been involved in the selection and training of many K9 officers. The commitment they have to their specific training rolls are so important to what we do as law enforcement officers in the respective communities we serve. I remember the stories of the search and rescue dogs who worked tirelessly at the 9-11 site to find the multitude of missing people and the stories from their handlers of the absolute PTSD many of them suffered from not being able to succeed at their job.

Talk about being all-in.

In my travels around the country, I’ve met a variety of K9 officers. From detection dogs to search and rescue to dogs to the dogs who have been adopted by police departments to serve as companion or therapy dogs who simply provide a kind and furry friend who lifts up the spirits of our fellow police officers during this difficult time in our profession’s history. Truly, they are the true servant officers of our departments with the most all-in attitude.

So, with this in mind,  let’s talk about how to cultivate an all-in leadership mentality.

First and foremost, you have to understand what it means. The phrase stems from a press conference when then newly-promoted Clemson head football coach, Dabo Swinney, coined the phrase when discussing what he would expect from the coaches and players…an all-in attitude. What did he mean? Well, as described by him, the expectation was that coaches and players would give their all to succeed. They would be “all-in” or out. Period.

Specifically, Swinney described the importance of “blooming where you are planted” You see in D1 sports, the best of the best are recruited and often identified to be better suited to a role they didn’t play or excel in, in high school. The goal of the player is to “bloom where you are planted” regarding your role for the D1 program you chose.

This concept is easily translated to one’s work and leadership journey. The most effective and significant leaders I have known, or had the pleasure to work with and for, may not have been in their “dream” position, but they focused on what they could do in that role to improve the function and productivity of the people they led. Staying focused on where you are and how you can succeed and excel is perhaps the greatest way to show your worthiness for higher positions, but most certainly shows a true all-in attitude. I encourage you to listen to this week’s podcast to hear the specific tips you can practice to achieve and remain all-in as a leader.

But to bring this full circle, our personal dogs and our professional K9s teach us these concepts daily. They show commitment to their role as a member of our “pack”; dogs show there loyalty and effort to provide comfort and companionship to our families and our departments as therapy dogs. Our service K9s demonstrate their commitment and focus on their trained roles - they truly bloom where they are planted.

K9 Cigo died like many other police dogs defending their handlers and pursuing the bad guys… they may not have understood fully the risk of which they took, but they certainly provide all of us the example of all-in behavior and dedication to their job. In many ways, dogs are the best example of all-in leadership.

Thanks to all of our officers both K9 aneed human who have died in the line of duty. The commitment they showed to ttheir respective communities is above and beyond and truly all-in.

In 2021, we’ve lost more officers in the first 5 months of the year than in entire previous 12-month years. 

Let’s all take a few minutes to remember our fallen officers this week. Remember their sacrifice to our communities and consider what you can do to be all-in as a leader during his crucial time in our profession’s history.


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