This column is not about leadership – at least not in any direct way. It is about enabling and inspiring leadership. It’s about the state police. It’s possible that when you read “state police” the images that arise for you are not so pretty. It may be when you hear the words “state police,” your blood pressure spikes and hives pop up on your skin. Been there! However . . .
The most poignant, grief-filled moments of the last few days (Jennifer’s last as Governor) came for me when I said goodbye to Joe from “the Detail” and Tom who protected the Governor’s Residence.* For eight years, every single day, I have seen the State Police – specifically, the Executive Protection Unit or the “Detail” as they are customarily called. Every one of those days, saw me. And most important, they watched our governor vigilantly, literally 24-7. That is something in itself. In a world where each of us increasingly lives in our own individual spheres, these guys orbit. Their personal interests always come last. They skip lunch. They don’t take phone calls. They drop everything. They move anywhere. They work holidays. They pay attention. And they sustain the expectation that they might have to make the ultimate sacrifice. They do this, so that someone else can lead us.
That would be enough – a lesson in service and sacrifice. But there was so much more. They kept confidences like million dollar safes. Compared to them I leaked like a spaghetti sieve. They asked for nothing ever. They saw us at our worst moments – teens being teens, spouses tensed, impossible schedules stressing everyone, and the bad news that kept raining on Michigan. Yet they were temperate. Patient. Professional. Yet human.
My kids learned respect from them. I learned it, too. When they called me “sir,” it was only right and appropriate to call them “sir” or “mam” in reply. When they opened doors, it made me want to open doors for others. Saying goodbye to them – our extended family – has made me wonder a lot: What would workplaces and families be like if just sometimes we served each other like that? How might their kind of respect alter the way we work with others? In a society that obsesses over celebrity, power, influence, and showmanship, how might we elevate virtues of patience, service, and humility?
It’s so entirely clear that the MSP brand – “A proud of tradition of Service through Excellence, Integrity and Courtesy” – contributed greatly to our entire team. They clearly helped us to:
Lead with our best selves,
*Names changed to protect the dutiful.