Before I took over as the CCSO state president, I knew that I needed a well-thought-out plan to improve our organization. My ideas and visions had to come with achievable objectives and an appealing end goal so that I could inspire others to make changes along with me. Change is often difficult, and people resist it due to fear of the unknown. Many of us are comfortable with the same process day in and day out, especially in our line of work. I centered my leadership style around change. I knew there would be challenges, but in order for our organization to flourish we had to make some changes, starting with our operations and business practices.
My goal wasn’t necessarily to fix everything that wasn’t working, but rather to amplify those things that did work and spread out the workload. Giving people new roles and responsibilities brought a sense of ownership and pride to the organization. I also sought out individuals I had met throughout my career with CDCR who I knew would make a significant impact on our organization. My first step was to communicate my ideas and vision in order to convince people both inside and outside our organization that my plan would be successful.
The concept of “the power of purpose” is not new. It is used by many companies and organizations throughout the world. The power of purpose is to put the right people in the right spots to do the best job they can. Empowering individuals builds confidence and reinforces your organization’s vision. Giving people power shows you have faith in them, as well as encouraging independence. When people are given positive reinforcement and feel that what they do has meaning, they start to care more, which is then reflected in their work. Similar to coaching a sport, you must put the right players in the best position for their skill set in order to win the game. Not everyone is equipped to play each position or complete certain tasks, but your goal is to put the best team together. By identifying strengths and weaknesses and strategically placing your team, your rate of success will improve exponentially.
The key to success is creating positive relationships with your staff and colleagues. Take the time to find out their interests, skill sets and passions. Building trust boosts success, and trust is built by listening, observing and understanding each person. Let everyone provide input and you’ll be surprised by the results. By no means am I smarter than everyone in the room, but by soliciting ideas and input, I receive different points of view and enhance my knowledge of various topics. I genuinely listen to each person, and by doing so I am gaining information that I previously did not have and building trust with my team. As a leader, you should not be selfish and keep everything to yourself in fear that someone will take over. Not allowing others to help is a detriment.
Great leaders inspire and motivate; they give people a sense of purpose and belonging. Over the past three years, I have endeavored to be a strong leader for CCSO, and I hope that I have created an atmosphere where you feel proud to be a part of our great organization. I have empowered the organization with skilled assets and subject-matter experts (SMEs) to help our members. I brought on consultants with an array of CDCR knowledge and experience. We have SMEs with backgrounds in personnel, executive management, health care, writing and editing, and social media/web design. I made State Board appointments to include a more diverse and dynamic group that truly represents our membership. I hired a general counsel for legal expertise, a labor manager, a grievance manager and a legislative specialist. The old saying “It takes a village” is true. You will be much more successful if you surround yourself with people who not only share your vision, but also strengthen your organization by providing certain proficiencies that you may lack.
I didn’t create the labor union concept, nor did I establish CCSO. What I have done is change many things: how we do business, how we strategize, how we negotiate and how we work with various CDCR divisions. Instead of getting upset about a policy change, we follow up with phone calls and emails asking for clarification. We currently have a very amicable working relationship with CDCR’s Office of Labor Relations, and we are now informed of upcoming policies and procedures and are invited to the table before the notice even goes out. When you call our office and get a response quickly, that goes to show that working together helps to achieve the goals for both sides, and most importantly, for our members.
On my campaign to be your state president, I made it a point to travel throughout the state and meet all of the chapter presidents. I wanted to share my plans of change for CCSO, as well as giving my full commitment to the organization. I knew that before I took over, I needed to find a core set of people who shared my vision. When I eventually took office as CCSO state president, I got to work putting my plans and strategies in motion to enhance CCSO. I’ve proudly been a part of CCSO for 17 years, and I truly believe in our mission. There is always room for improvement, and I hope I’ve been able to show you the positives of change.
At the end of the day, we all want to be part of something meaningful. CCSO has great challenges and great opportunities ahead of us, and with your help, we will succeed. I want each and every one of you to know you are part of CCSO’s prosperity. Let’s keep on thriving!