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How to Lighten the Burden of Command
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 09/12/2011

Burden Observe dear friends that the burden of command has placed a yoke around your neck [so it feels]. This added responsibility can be shared or be solely imposed by the authority your position carries. The job you have chosen can be filled with controversy and decisions how to deal with every event that drives your need to manage your environment and life for every moment you choose to carry this burden. The decisions you make are based on your social upbringing, your organizational culture, your religious views and your moral compass. The fact that you are using so many different tools to provide you with a satisfactory answer to the problems at hand illustrates the complexity of your job as a leader. It must be presumed that you took this role to serve as voluntary choice to stand up and be counted for the qualities you possess and contribute to the organization you have elected yourself to serve. On the other hand, this burden can provide you much self satisfaction as you are dealing with the controversy and the hustle of taking care of business in a manner that has been recognized as a blessing and a gift for many of our leaders today.

The first step in this leadership role and accepting this yoke around the neck is defining your role as a leader. What attributes do you offer your team and your organization that makes it better or stronger? Fitting yourself and your profile should include a brief vision of your agency’s vision statement and its desired goals and objectives. One must be self-willed to service others and bend or compromise to meet these burdens with all the strengths you possess. Creating a vision should include forming broad shoulders to bear the weight and responsibilities placed upon you or your position as we learn to carry it with due considerations for the details of the job chosen to accept. Allow yourself to carry this burden with joy as you focus on being emphatic and compassionate to others who look to you for guidance and role modeling that sets the standards of expectations.

Actively involve yourself with your staff and management team and make sure they are clear on your expectations on job performance and agency’s values. Make sure that your words are sincere and when coping with the stress lighten the burden for others by ensuring confidence and reassurances that the work is both productive and necessary to carry on the tasks of the group. Share your vision and allow others to share theirs. Make it a seamless process [without barriers] that places value on every idea and comment made to ensure thoughtful considerations to those who willingly participate in the problem solving matters and offering solutions in return.

Walk and talk with everyone you meet and try to understand their words and actions without shooting the messenger or discouraging feedback. Invite them to speak freely and allow them to speak what they want to say rather than what they think you want to hear. Such information is invaluable and makes the burden light. Do not misquote them and create an alliance that will strengthen the team concept. Do not worry too much about the burden as it will become light as you progress in your ability to manage the environment. Foreseeing the unplanned gives other confidence that you are experienced and well organized to handle those unexpected crisis with the skill of an expert or yeoman in deeds.

lighten the load you must look for the pieces of the puzzle before anyone else does. You must look at a situation up and down and then from the bottom up. As a new leader you must try to figure out what, who, when, where, why or how things work takes time and you must learn to allow staff to help you in this process. Develop short term views and long term views to plan the success of your team and agency and most of all, take control of the tasks and duties assigned and maintain your energy to meet and complete those challenges provided to you through the hard work and dedication you have demonstrated that earned you this opportunity to be a leader.

Editor’s note: Carl ToersBijns (retired), worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:



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