When Chief Danny Garcia first came to Phoenix he addressed a group of newly promoted Sergeants who were undergoing training out at the academy. PLEA began to receive phone calls of concern from some of those attending. It seems Chief Garcia during his comments to them had encouraged them to get a copy of the book Leadership secrets of Attila the Hun and explained he was an advocate of the principles espoused in the book.
This is a great leadership book for fortune 500 companies where the modern business environment is looked at in terms of being a battlefield and all of your competitors as enemies or adversaries to be conquered.
History remembers Attila as a ruthless tyrant that ruled over nomadic gypsy like bands of followers known as the Huns. They raped, robbed, pillaged and laid waste to the countries and lands they conquered. As a nomadic army always on the move, they existed and sustained themselves by taking from others.
One of the quotes from the book on the topic of leadership states: “Leadership is a function of three forces: persuasion, manipulation and coercion.” This describes Danny V. Garcia to a T. There is nothing to be found in the book about servant leadership or leadership by example. This should raise obvious concerns with anyone.
A quote from the book on on leadership and morality states:
“The notion that most Huns desire moral Chieftains does not hold up under actual experience. When times are good, most Huns don’t care about a Chieftain’s morals, if they believe their good fortune is connected to the Chieftain. When times are bad, most Huns don’t care about a Chieftain’s morals, if they believe the Chieftain can reverse their misfortune. But all Huns care when a Chieftain’s immorality is affecting their way of life.”
On the issue of loyalty:
“Above all things, a Hun must be loyal. Disagreement is not necessarily disloyalty. A Hun who, in the best interest of the tribe disagrees, should be listened to. On the other hand, a Hun who actively participates in or encourages actions that are counter to the good of the tribe is disloyal. These Huns whether warrior of chieftain, must be expeditiously removed. Their ability to influence and discourage loyal Huns is a contagious disease. In cases where disloyal actions and attitudes cannot be changed, harsh action must be taken to rid ourselves of those among us who see no value in and subvert our cause.”
This is fine and good but what happens if the Hun at the top is the person with the problem?
We question these principles as a guiding philosophy. More importantly, why would we encourage brand new police supervisors to adopt the philosophy of a man who was essentially one of the top gang bangers of his time? When a leadership philosophy speaks in terms of war, conflict, enemies, taking things by force, it begs the question: who is the enemy? If you are a top-level police manager is the enemy the Lieutenants and Commanders? If you are a Sergeant, is the enemy the rank and file? If you are a patrol cop, is the enemy; the citizens, [you know, the people we are sworn to protect]? Maybe criminals are the enemy however, lets not forget the vast majority are citizens and are accorded protections under the US Constitution.
No police organization in America can ever go wrong, as long as they always remember the citizens are the real bosses. If we ever get to the point of viewing citizens as the enemy we have failed. Wasn’t it Chief Garcia who made the statement in a departmental meeting shortly after arriving in Phoenix that we can arrest our way out of any problem? Fortunately Attila the Hun does not patrol the streets of Phoenix; we do. Attila’s leadership secrets simply don’t apply to our job.
How does the leadership style in “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” square with “The Nobility of Policing”? How does it square with serving the citizens of Phoenix? Isn’t this is simply preaching one philosophy to the public while advocating yet another to the department behind closed doors?
One thing we know for sure; men and women on all levels of the Phoenix Police Department are fed up with the Attila the Hun management style they see emanating from Chief Garcia.
Chief Garcia has continuously stated that he embraces a leadership style that is inclusive and collaborative in nature. All who have been around him for any length of time know this is complete hogwash. Inclusiveness and collaboration run counter intuitive to a person with a dictatorial mindset.
As an interesting counterpoint CLICK HERE to read a recent editorial penned by New York times Op-ed writer David Brooks on Nov 24, 2014 on the characteristics of a unifying leader that works collaboratively. As you read the article just substitute the words Police Chief wherever the word President appears and you will quickly see the striking difference between the qualities of a leader who is truly inclusive and collaborative in their style as opposed to what we have had to put up with on the Phoenix PD for the last two and a half years.