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I'd like to welcome everybody to another LeaderGov podcast. And we're so glad you're with us. We love producing these podcasts as often as we can and sharing them with you, city and county officials, leaders, and even agencies, tax commissions and all sorts of related agencies. Listen to these podcasts. And we're glad you're here. We're glad you're interested in developing your own leadership skills and management skills, but also enabling and equipping your teams, your managers and your directors and supervisors, sergeants and so forth. And so we're really excited today we've got a great topic of servant leadership. And I want to introduce you to and I want to welcome with us from the Ventura County, California Sheriff's Office. Jim FryHoff. Jim, how you doing? Doing fantastic.
Thank you, Bill,
how you doing? Good. And for those listening, Jim is also serves as the police chief of 1000 Oaks community in Ventura County of about 130,000. People. So, Jim, it was great connecting with you recently. And I just really was taken and excited about your interest in servant leadership. And definitely looking forward to getting into this topic with you today, because it's such a ubiquitous topic. You know, it really applies to anything we do anywhere, anytime, just about. And so looking forward to that before we jump in, Jim, if you don't mind, just tell us a little bit about your background and local government, maybe where you're from I know you have some kind of Oklahoma Sooner connection, we probably shouldn't talk about that too much. Just kidding. So tell us about your background in law enforcement and just a little bit about yourself.
Alright, well, fantastic. Thank you. So I started my career in law enforcement, very young. I was 18 years old when I was hired as a cadet in Pasadena police bar in Pasadena, California. And a little Rose Bowl was there for two years. I grew up in Pasadena. But I worked for the police department there for almost two years. And when I was 19 and a half and I was ill eligible to apply with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, I took the opportunity to apply and was hired. So I actually started the academy just before I turned 20 and have spent now that last just over 30 years working for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Now I'm out here in California, if you work for a sheriff's office, there's a good chance that your first assignment after the academy is at the jail. So I spent the first three and a half years of my career in custody, really learning how to talk to people talk to some of our clients that we were going to be dealing with out in the field. It's a different animal when they are in custody, if you will, because they've already been caught. Their relationship with us is totally different. Their ability and willingness to share information is different because they're not trying to get away. So you really get a chance to talk to them and find out you know, what's going on in their life, how they ended up where they're at, and it's a really great eye opener. And for a kid like me it was you know, just 20 years old, didn't know nothing about nothing. So it was a great, great opportunity to learn my first patrol assignment was up in Ohio as a our smallest contract city and the sheriff's office agencies and a home to about 7500 residents in the city. And then about 30 35,000 in the unincorporated areas. So we and we patrol all of that. And I was there for four and a half years worth of patrol, I had an opportunity to be a field training officer kind of developed my craft as a patrol officer, I was involved in a shooting back in 1996, where my partner was killed, went through a quite the emotional roller coaster after that, and even deciding whether or not I wanted to get back into law enforcement after that, you know, there was some serious soul searching that took place to have me come back, returned to work, got promoted, went back to the jail, because that's the other catches every time you get promoted, you get sent back to the jail. That's how we keep the jail staff, right. So went back as a, as a supervisor work in one of our different facilities, was there for a couple years, and took that opportunity to kind of see a counselor talk about the shooting and kind of help digest all that, which really was what saved my career, being able to put it in proper perspective and the experience that I gained and how I can use it for the organization or for the people that I serve better. So it's unfortunate to have gone through it. But at the same time, it was a career changing event, a life changer that I've been able to share with many others since that
was the jump over to police chief what? Tell me about that about that transition.
So you know, what's funny is it took a long time to get to GE right. I mean, that's my first chief assignment was, you know, high, which was just a couple of years ago, and that was in 2017 is when I got to sign up in Ohio as the chief. And it really started with a great supervisor I had in Ojai, when I have no interest in promoting, I was happy to be a patrol officer, I was happy to run my own program and not take extend myself at all. And he was the one that pushed me and said, You really need to consider promoting, you know, we need people like you to lead. I really liked this new test. And when I tested and got promoted, I was my first step into taking on additional responsibility and leading others and I really liked it a lot. I really liked the ability of sharing with others and developing people around me and making the team better based on my skill set and been sharing what I've learned. And then I just kept on going I you know, I I promoted my way up, I went through investigations and Special Enforcement. But back to the jail again, I worked crime prevention, that was the sheriff's adjutant. So the right hand person for the sheriff are working directly for the sheriff as a sergeant for two and a half years. got sent to 1000 oaks as the Assistant Chief for five years. And from there, I was sent to Ohio, which was really I'd asked to go there to be chief when that Chief of there got promoted, he was a captain get promoted to Commander, there was an opportunity. And although it's on the other end of county from where I live, it was my first patrol station and I really had a bond with that that's where the shooting happened, I really want to go back and have a more positive experience, if you will, with a with a station that I really fell in love with. And I had an opportunity to go back up and work for a much smaller city, about 30 deputies assigned to that station, and really got to craft what it was like to run my own station and be a leader at the chief level and working with city government working with the community, working with my city manager city council to help really accomplish all the goals and objectives that they have. And then being able to harness that from within got promoted after three years of being chief there and assigned out here in 1000. Oaks as the chief which is now where I've been for just about a year. Obviously, this has been a challenging year for everybody in the world with the pandemic occurring. And really our ability to reach out to the community has stumbled a little bit because of zoom and other features. And we're able to do a better job of communicating. But one thing that I really allowed me to do is hone the craft of servant leadership and develop the people from within. And that was something that I worked on when I was in Ojai, and I've really taken to here in 1000 Oaks is making sure that you know there's at the end of the day, our goal is to provide a service to our community and have them feel safe, right, we're there as public servants were there to respond to their concerns and to their calls. And as a chief, I certainly want the community to know that we care about them. And I can certainly convey that message to them directly through social media through press releases and whatnot. But that's me, right? That's just one person communicating. But if I develop the people who work for me, and get their mindset, right about what our goal is and the relationship we want to establish with the community, I now have a force multiplier of the 130 officers who work for me who are going to have that same caretaking model of the community and they're not just hearing it from the chief they're hearing it from the officers in the field and then there's not the disconnect. Because oftentimes if I go to the community and I tell them, hey, this is our mission, this is what we do. And I don't preach that within the their experience with the officers may not have that same feel that I'm expecting. And so by developing the officers from within letting you know that I'm supportive of them, I'm going to give them the tools, the equipment, the experiences, they need to be successful in their careers, and how we craft in their relationship with the community with that, than we all when the community gets the policing agency they want. I get the service to the community that I'm looking for. And I get to develop a next branch of leaders from our organization to come in behind me and he, at some point,
yeah, I'm curious what, what you what, what, what drew you to servant leadership? Is there anything in particular amount? Well, a couple of areas I wanted to ask you about today in particular is, is being a futurist and kind of a visionary. And we know that's part of being a servant leader is being able to show people kind of here's where we're going and and think about the future. That's part of servant leadership. So we want to talk about that today. But I'm just curious, you know, what, what? What intrigues you about the concept of servant leadership? And maybe how do you how do you define it?
So I think servant leadership is it's a flipped model from what you normally see in a traditional hierarchy, leadership style, right? Typical leadership, you have one person at the top and air and you're very, you know, bottom heavy. And, and as a result, there's the employee, the telephone game, the message may not be conveyed the way you want, right. Whereas if you can flip the model, and like I said, you develop your your staff, the wait, and you give them that the transformational leadership style, right, I'm going to paint the picture of what I want for our community to have. And for them to understand how I want them to view us as their police department, I convey that to them, and then I get their buy in on on how that's effective. And then they get to see the return on that investment by how they how the community responds to them. Obviously, during this year, we've had a much like a lot of places across the nation, we've had a lot of protests, you know, our protests were, although robust by our competitor, you know, first, our standard, and the P author a sign saying defund the police. And then we walk up to talk to them, and they were just like, hey, thank you guys, for everything you do, we really appreciate your service. And so I get that, you know, people are wanting a movement, they're wanting to change. And I think when you know, in defund can be a certain visceral reaction for people to say, Oh, they don't want police fire. And that's not what it's all about. You talk to people who are talking about defunding and you talk to anybody who's been in law enforcement long enough, they would agree that there are things that law enforcement should not be the primary responder on. And we would be happy to offload some of those things for other people to handle. The problem is, the majority of those things that they want handed to somebody else that might be better suited, are not in a position to protect themselves either. And a lot of the things that law enforcement go to are, are rapidly evolving and tense, and, and have potential significant negative consequences if handled improperly, or even violence to the person that's trying to provide the service. So it's, I don't see it as an opportunity to cut here and add here, it's more of, hey, continue this year and add here so that we can have a more multidisciplinary approach to a lot of the needs that our communities are having. What's drawn me to the servant leadership is just how I felt like I best connected with I had really great supervisors who I thought were really good servant leaders themselves. And I felt like I got the most out of that experience. And so it was a lot of learn from doing and. And I felt like, once I knew that I was cared about by my, my leaders, I was able to more effectively push their mission as well, because I knew they cared about me. And so that's my goal is to make sure that the staff that works for me know that I care about them deeply. Right, I want them to be safe, I want to make sure they're not taking unnecessary risks, I want them to know that I'm going to protect them, I'm going to, I'm going to let them make decisions, and knowing full well that not all decisions are going to be good. And like I've always told him, I said you get paid a lot of money to make decisions. And if it goes bad, the only thing I'm going to ask you is what we were thinking. And as long as you don't shrug your shoulders, we're gonna get along just fine. Right? If you shrug your shoulders about maybe having a better diagram of how you came up with making one decision or the other. But if you have some reasonable, you know, accountability for how you chose A versus B, you know, I chose a because we knew this, this and this and it seemed like a better option than B. And then of course, with my experience, I might say well, did you consider C, D and E? And then like, I didn't even think of C, D and E and I'm like, Okay, this is a development opportunity, right? We're going to talk about what C, D and E are and how and how you could have used those maybe to your advantage. But yeah,
good, good. Well, I really like where you're headed there. I wanted to. So what I heard you say was you were modeled servant leadership, by your leaders around you. And you picked up on this approach to leadership this upside down approach It served them well, you were committed to them because you knew they had your back. And now you're committed and you're serving your teams. And they know that you have their back and you'll support them and encourage them that kind of thing I wanted to ask you about the pillars of servant leadership. If you if you'd look it up, if you google this, there are Greenleaf came up with 10 pillars or qualities of a servant leader. Things like having empathy, listening, being a community builder, and others building building a robust community around you. Developing people being a futurist, kind of like highlighting for people where we're going in the future, all of those sorts of things are servant leadership qualities, is there any particular aspect of servant leadership that you really enjoy living out or that you think is most important, perhaps.
So interesting is without even knowing those pillars, that you just mentioned, that's exactly though, how I'm wired. So I feel that that is a very natural thing for me to do, developing community, developing the people around me developing the staff around me to make them future leaders and develop them and they're there and what their goals are for the organization. You know, unless you ask them, you don't know what their goals are. So I know that you mentioned that you have sergeants that listen in on on these podcasts as well, it's really important for our sergeants who in any organization are the key to a law enforcement organization. They are where the rubber meets the road, they're the ones that are going to help pass the mission along that the executive team wants in a manner that is going to be most effective with the team that they are supervising, having just sat on a promotional board for Sergeant, one thing that they all know and expect is that the sergeant is going to give them expectations. They're going to let them know what the goals are maybe a little transformational leadership from the sergeants, and hey, the chief really wants us to be engaging with the community and that we want to, you know, these are our target areas that we need to help influence. This is how we can accomplish that as a team on this ship. And this is what I want from each of you on this ship to do it. And of course, there's the accountability side where they all also speak to that nobody wants to be held accountable, right, in general. But every single person that came in for the promotional exam knows that's part of what we do. And holding people accountable is really important, because it's going to help steer them in the right direction. And if they've done something wrong, they expected right there, this isn't something they didn't see coming. If they if they've done something improper, they expect to be held accountable, but more important, all of the other people that work for you also are expecting you hold that person accountable. Because if you want to destroy a ship, or a unit or a speech, and in a hurry, you let people get away with things without being held accountable. And you will, you will have lost all credibility and the team as a whole. So you really need to keep those in mind that needed. The most of them are craving, right, most of them are wanting the direction and they end up they step out of bounds are expecting you to call them on it and then give them good guidance. So for the surgeons that are listening, you know, your fight the good fight on that, make sure you're seeing you know, laying out your expectation, recognizing positive behavior, right, we want to reward really good behavior. And if there's something that you need to do that's critical in nature, that it's always done in private, you meet the officer offline, but meet him for a cup of coffee and, and talk about where their shortcomings are and what you'd like to see out of them and give them some goals that they can attain. And that will help show that you're supporting them. You ask them what their goals are, because everybody's got a goal, right? I guarantee you that there's nobody out work on patrol right now that goes, I really don't want to achieve anything in my career. You know, I just want to try and get home live every day for the next 30 years. That's, I guarantee if they tell you that they're lying to you, right? What are their goals? What what do they see in themselves? Do they want to get into investigation? Do they want to promote? They want to become a school resource officer, right? What are the things that they are interested in doing? And then as a supervisor at that level, what can you do to help guide them in that path to get where they want to go? And within that same servant mindset is, if you extend yourself to the people that work for you, and you let them know that you're willing to help them get where they want to go, they are equally going to want to help you get to where you're what you're trying to achieve.
Yeah, well, yeah. So such a kind of at this on the surface, kind of simplistic idea, but extremely profound. And so true. If I know you're, you have my future interests in mind, I'm willing to sacrifice and help you with your future interest and be giving to you, I was going to ask you, how do you how do you get the tough work done in police, which sometimes you need to be autocratic? Right. Sometimes this is not a democracy in the police force at times you have to be very firm. I was going to ask you, how do you do that yet? Yet, do it in a servant oriented way. And I think you answered my question before I asked it which is To set very definite expectations, here's what's expected of you, here's what we're looking for, here's where we're going. And then having that accountability underlying it, and I just love that that's the firm part of leadership. Yet, it's what we ultimately want, I think as individuals, does that make sense?
100%. And you can't lead with a hammer, right? If there's, if you've ever worked for a leader who was an autocrat the entire time they lose the troops very quickly, you can leave in a very short periods of time and that non democracy statement, and there are times in law enforcement that you definitely have to leave that way. There are times where it's like, Hey, this is what we're doing this, how we're doing it, we're doing it now. And if you've developed that relationship with your team, they're not even going to question that they're gonna be like, Okay, let's get it done. Because he needs this done. Right now we're doing it or the sergeant, hey, Sergeant needs this, we gotta go do this. They're gonna be willing to do that. If you just hammer all the time, and you don't spend the time developing the people around you. They're not going to respond, because they've become depth to it. You know, my girls, I yell at home a lot. Right? Greg? Girls have tuned out my antics by now you don't say what I want to get the girls attention. Now I talk softly. If I you know, that's when they know they got trouble. I go, Hey, is that really a good choice you're making right now? And when I change it, then they're like, Oh, I got a quick
question for you about. You mentioned some people early in your career. And I wanted I wanted you just to tell a story of a person who in your life could be a family member, or it could be a former manager boss down down the road? And in the past? Who Who do you recall that really modeled this idea of servant leadership? And and what were the qualities? What did they do? Because I want our listeners to, to hear that that story, that real life story of here's a person who came alongside me and did blank and blank. And here's the difference it made. Can you tell us a somebody in your past that that fits that bill?
Yeah, I was very fortunate to have many that fit that bill, I work for a very good organization. And one who I will talk about is the one that I mentioned that he wanted me to promote early on. I met him when I was working in the jail, and he was a patrol officer in in Ojai, and I got a chance to work with him briefly in that capacity. And then throughout our careers, I always was working for him and different assignments. And each way he was able to help shepherd me along helped me get to where I wanted to go, kept me on this, you know, on the straight and narrow, keeping my mind focused on what I needed to do, and at the same time helping him accomplish what he wanted. And he and I had a great relationship. And as a result, I knew he cared about me, I knew he cared about my professional development. I knew he really wanted me to succeed. And it was simple things early on, where you saw changes that he could impact that made a difference for the station. So I'll give you an example. As a young patrol officer, it was not uncommon to have, we didn't have a lot of major crimes investigators at our station, we had two station detectives who handled basic, you know, burglaries, domestic violence, and stuff like that. But if we had a major crime, a sexual assault, homicide, any of those things, it was handled by our major crimes bureau. And there was like any agency, we have some people who don't do it, as well as others. And inevitably, one of those would, officers would do a report and it was substandard. And these investigators would come up and then our briefing, which was supposed to cover officer safety bulletins, you know, issues that were coming up, kind of give him a pep talk to go hit the field, we spent a 15 minute 20 minute bashing on why we should write better reports and how our station is substandard. And knowing full well, we were talking about one person but they didn't want to do the hard part. We talked about accountability. They didn't want to talk to the person that was responsible. So they were talking in group instead of individually, and it just drove me nuts. It I was like, why are you telling me something I already do and know. We all know who you're talking about? Why don't you talk to them about where their shortcomings are. And so this Supervisor of mine had come back now as a patrol sergeant. So now back into the station again as a first level supervisor. And then I said, Listen, I go if there's anything you can change around here, it's our briefings. I said this is how they're currently being run. It's completely wholly unacceptable. If you're looking to help improve morale, get motivation and get people in his headspace, right? We need to start dealing with these things on a one off basis. We're the people that need to have the talk. And the rest of us just get the information that we need so we can go out and be safe and have a good ship. And his very first ship, it's argit. We had the investigators from outside. They came in and did the same spiel they always do. And they leave I looked over him and he says, so that's what you're talking about. I go that's exactly what I'm talking about. He goes that'll never happen again. And it never happened again. He told me he got it. He understood what was important about it. He understood the appointment, the importance of accountability, for those of you that need to be held accountable, and then also the dry Having leadership necessary for the rest of your shift that's ready to go get out and get to business. So they're ready to go do the job at hand, they want to know the officer safety bulletins they have to have or the trouble houses that we're going to be focusing on for that ship, and then go out with a much more positive, upbeat attitude about it. And then, of course, that translates into how they react to the community. Because if you get beat up for 1520 minutes every day, in your own shop, how are you going to feel about when you're interacting with the public, you know, in your first person, you stop, and they're, you know, not saying very pleasant things about what you're doing and how they pay your taxes and whatnot, you know, it's it's much more difficult to take when you've already been on this negative foot to begin with. Whereas if you have really strong leadership, that are supporting you, they understand what you're about to encounter, because they've been there as well. And they're in there, they care about you, you're able to make those stops, have that encounter, and be professional, take it in stride, and then move on to the next one and knowing full well that that person doesn't know who you are as a person. They're upset, and they can be upset for a variety of reasons, right. This is this can be the 10th bad thing that's happened to him that day for all we know. Yeah. And but we have a job to do. And it's one of those things. It's very, it's not an easy job.
Well, I like what you're saying, You know what I heard you say there was this manager listened to you. He observed what was going on, saw the reality of it. And then he took action. Yes, the action he took was around accountability, which is an awesome thing. If like you said earlier, if we don't have accountability, it's all bets are off, you know about how's the team that it's demoralizing, honestly. So but but I like what you're saying he listened. And then he acted, and he did the hard thing, sitting down and having that one on one conversation about that deficiency. It's uncomfortable, nobody wants to do it. It is a hard thing to do in some situations. But but he did it because he wanted to give you and the rest of the team what they needed at the time to do their job the best. So he he sort of took took the fall, if you will, he did the hard thing to protect you guys give you what you needed. So you could be in a positive frame of mind. I love that story. Great, great, great story. I wanted to ask you just any any sort of final thought, we like I said earlier, we serve cities, we serve counties, we serve public safety, staff, Finance Directors, public works, all sorts of people listening this podcast. And so this topic of servant leadership is, is common across all of those different titles. Any any sort of final thought that you would leave us a story or just an idea about this concept of investing in? And can't you you've used this word caring for others multiple times? And is just is there any sort of last thought that you would leave people with to think about on this topic?
Yeah, and it's the it's the golden rule, right? Treat others, the way you would want to be treated. And that I think is really comes down to that servant leadership model is, how would I want to be treated, I'm going to treat other people that way. I'm going to give other people an opportunity to succeed and excel, and hopefully replace me someday or even supervise me someday. And to not be afraid of that. It's really important to us to champion those around us who are doing great work. The people that need guidance, we give them that support. We call their deficiencies, and we help them get that deficiency passed. So because they want, they have goals to all of everybody has a goal, and we want to do our best to help shepherd them down that path to achieve those goals. And we do that by caring for them. Like you said, that is a big a big thing in what we can do in leadership. You care for your people, you work for you. They're going to take great care of the people that you care most about, which is your community. So if you want your community to be healthy, you certainly need your agencies to be healthy. And that starts with healthy leadership. Who cares about the people that work for them?
Yeah, wow, thank you. That's very well said I love it. You know, it's, it's getting outside of myself and maybe even outside of my comfort zone, and what I'm comfortable with, and getting to know people investing in people listening to people, learning what's important to them, and helping them get to where they want to get in their career. And it's all about others. It's all about giving. No longer is my day about what do I need to do for me, but what what can I do during my day for other people? It's just a completely different mindset and hard for hard for some and not as hard for other people, but it's certainly valuable for everyone. Well, we have well, we've really covered a lot of territory and I love your enthusiasm. I love your passion around this topic. And really, I just want to say thank you for living it out, you know, living it out right there where you are in Ventura County and because the It is your right everything that you do in this arena of servant leadership ultimately affects interactions with citizens and the perception of the city and the perception of the police department. And it's all in these interpersonal interactions. And your being a servant leader and teaching that and demonstrating that in Ventura County is a big, big benefit to the county. So thank you for for being with us today and for for sharing that with us.
Well, thank you very much for having me. This is a this is a first for me my first podcast so I'm thankful you reached out and hopefully, your listeners are able to gain something from what I've I've shared and I wish everybody the best. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Let's get this done.
Sounds great. Thank you, Chief. Hope you have a great day.
You too. Thank you very much.