Leadership Spotlight

How Do We Lead from Here?

A police officer on a motorcycle low-fives young kids holding American flags.

“I really can’t define leadership, but I know it when I see it.”


Given tragic events that have unfolded and senseless murders of our law enforcement family members, many of us are asking, What do we do now? Communities have scrutinized our actions and questioned our handling of a few arrests and contacts. Regarding these incidents I recognize that because of perceptions and circumstances, questions have arisen concerning tactics used. But, I am confused as to why the many positive exchanges law enforcement professionals have with the public that show how much we care for citizens go unrecognized or unreported. These positive exchanges are part of law enforcement officers’ “DNA.”

Recently, my wife commented that she is glad I am no longer in uniform because she worried every second I was away. As she spoke these words, I wondered how many other families have this same concern, which now is magnified. How do we lead our organizations forward? What are the answers or solutions to our problems?

In the 28 years I served in local law enforcement, I proudly worked with many talented people who cared for and served the community with pride and excellence. As an instructor at the FBI Academy, this feeling continues to grow. I see greatness at every turn, either through the National Academy students or the recruits who attend new agent or intelligence analyst training. They have what it takes to get this right!

What that right is, is in debate. Others’ perception of what we do has changed. Should we wait until this perception changes back? Or, should we try something different? Insanity is defined as doing the same thing expecting a different result.1 Therefore, what is the next move? It is up to us to create the vehicle for change―not management, but transformational leadership.

That next move depends on us, our community, and our leaders. These leaders may not have positional power, but they will rise above the fray. Leaders understand. Yet, before they speak they listen, learn, gather others, and take charge. I know these leaders exist. I am proud and excited knowing they work in our profession. Our challenge is to assemble these leaders, listen to the real problems, develop strategies, and move toward the future.

Ken Kilbride, a retired lieutenant with the Plantation, Florida, Police Department and currently an instructor in the Leadership and Communications Unit at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.


This quote has been credited to Albert Einstein; however, it also is attributed to other sources.