Having watched you for a number of years—I would say you are also a supercommunicator and you use a lot of humour. What is that motivated by? One of the areas where people fall down at work, on teams and in relationships is a break-down of communications. You can never have enough communications. Communications is listening as much as talking. It’s a key principle and tool for leaders to have. I like to communicate and have people understand what I’m thinking and the direction of the organization, while also listening to leaders in the community and organization about where we need to go. And it’s important to pause and create stress-free environments and a culture that allows us to looks at the lighter side with a bit of self-deprecating humour. Leadership teams thrive when they can be real, honest and use a bit of humour. I also want the community to see the real me—to know the real chief. In a uniform, I’m at a disadvantage as it creates a barrier. Humour helps to break it and show people you’re no different than them. I’ll be at Our Place talking to people who think we are targeting them. When they see I can sit next to them, have a sense
of humour and listen to them, people feel more comfortable that I’m the chief. What’s been unexpected in your new role? The outpouring of support I’ve received. It’s been overwhelming. I’ve received hundreds of emails, texts, cards from people I’ve only met once—or never met. You don’t do things to get somewhere, you do it because that’s who you are as a person—you care. So when it accumulates to having the top job, it’s very humbling. Police departments have traditionally been white men places. You are an unusual appointment on that basis. I think someone who has had to navigate an organization that is not populated by a diverse range of people does learn a lot about success, survival, communications, engagement and getting ahead because you have extra challenges to get through. It starts with good parenting. First, my parents instilled a strong work ethic: work twice as hard as the next person and don’t complain. Second: treat everyone with respect, as you would want to be treated.
Being appointed the chief constable, I represent the true Canada. We are multicultural and diverse. It takes time in many organizations. I’m the first visible minority to be selected as chief in the history of the department—founded in 1858. I see that as a tremendous honour. What I found interesting is that the coverage in Victoria was all about this being an internal appointment—“Victoriaborn officer gets top job”. The coverage in Vancouver was all about me being the first Indo-Canadian police chief. Your appointment changes the perception of the police department. The point of diversity in any organization is to say we reflect the community we are in. I totally agree. So for example, tomorrow I’m going to Victoria library’s VIP reading club to read a book to kids. I see that as important. If I’m in my office doing e-mails there’s something wrong. I need to be out of my office engaged in the community and talking to the officers so they feel supported. That’s where I’m going to be most effective.
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