To be the best leaders possible, your officers must first look inside, examining their own beliefs, values, attitudes, assumptions, perceptions, priorities, and goals. They must develop empathy, integrity, and vision before taking up the mantle of leading others. As renowned leadership researcher and author, Warren Bennis, noted, “Leaders must know themselves thoroughly before they can hope to lead others.”


While most academies ignore this critical part in the development of leaders, our Leadership Academy takes participants on a journey inside their own thought processes, presenting thought-provoking information in a highly energetic and entertaining way.


We built this program after seeing what works and what doesn’t from other academies. Dr. Serio helped launch SHIELD, the SHeriff’s Institute for Ethical Law Enforcement Development, at the Travis County (Austin) Sheriff’s Office, and was a featured speaker at the Texas Association of Counties Leadership Academy.


The Program:


  • 10 8-hour classes
  • Up to 40 participants per class
  • Handout material, books
  • Exams at the end of each module
  • Activities and assignments to be completed between modules
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Weekly newsletter with actionable recommendations to maintain momentum after class


Classes: Classes are high-energy, high-impact using blended learning approaches including participation, interaction, discussion, written exercises, and video, audio, and photographic material. Each officer will be expected to participate.


Participants: Your officers should form a single unit that progresses through the program together, i.e., the same people should be in every class in order to achieve the best results. The program will be capped at 40 participants.


Handout Materials: Participants will receive a workbook for each module. In addition, each participant will receive a copy of the following books:


  • Time Management: 50 Lessons on Finding Time for What’s Important
  • Overcoming Fear: 50 Lessons on Being Bold and Living the Dream
  • Public Speaking: 50 Lessons on Presenting Without Losing Your Cool
  • Being Resilient: 50 Lessons on Leaving Chronic Stress Behind (forthcoming)
  • Leadership: 50 Lessons on Inspiring Others to Be Their Best (forthcoming)
  • Emotional Intelligence: 50 Lessons on Knowing Who You’re Dealing With (forthcoming)
  • Effective Communication: 50 Lessons on How to Hear and Be Heard (forthcoming)   


Police officerExams: An exam will be given at the end of each class. This will not be simply a pro forma quiz—instead, it will be a serious test that will require recall, interpretation, and creativity, using a blended approach of true/false questions, multiple choice, essay, and problem solving.

Scheduling: Each module will run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated. Agencies and departments often have varying start times for training programs. Modules should be held within 4-5 weeks of each other in order to fit into the one-year format. In this way, officers will have time to contemplate the material and complete assignments while not losing the continuity of the program.

The Modules: The primary goal of Modules 1-5 is to help individual participants get inside their own thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors to assess the state of their leadership currently and prepare them to move on to a higher level of leadership practice.

The goal of Modules 6-10 is to help your officers interact more effectively with people at work and at home. These modules dive into fundamental aspects of leadership, including servant leadership, decision making, ethics, managing change, communication, and time management.

Module 1 – Facing Fear: The Cornerstone of Effective Personal Leadership

Fear is one of the most powerful influences in a person’s life. It plays a major role in self-awareness and self-perception, decision making, quality of relationships, performance at work, and more. Fear exists at different levels of our consciousness—so we may not even be fully aware that our thoughts and behaviors are actually being driven by fear.


In this module, we explore fear as it impacts thoughts, beliefs, actions, and consequences, and we illustrate how fear is a decisive factor in shaping your officers’ leadership styles. Sections include: the roots of fear, identifying and reducing fear, understanding fear and productivity, and a seven-step success plan for managing fear.

Module 2 – Improving Emotional Intelligence for More Effective Leadership

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and to use this awareness to manage behavior and relationships. EI plays a central role in all aspects of leadership.


We discuss a variety of topics in this module, including the four pillars of EI, the three components of EI, basic parts and functions of the brain and their role in determining our emotional responses, strategies for effectively controlling those emotional responses, and identifying and improving low emotional intelligence.

Module 3 – Consumed by Stress: A Major Obstacle to Effective Leadership

Stress is ever-present in modern life. Good stress helps us perform better; bad stress blocks the path to great leadership. Over time, unremittent negative stress takes its toll on attitude, relationships, performance, physical and emotional health, outlook on life, and a lot more.


This module dives into the issue of stress, discussing the physiology and neuroscience of stress, nutrition, health, exercise, diet, and sleep. We address resilience and present strategies for reducing stress so your officers can be more effective leaders.

Module 4 – Personal Leadership: Managing Time Effectively

Fear, low emotional intelligence, and high stress show themselves frequently in procrastination, perfectionism, absenteeism, lateness, failure to complete paperwork in a timely manner, and countless other ways. It’s easy to see how these can impact your officers’ ability to manage time effectively.


This module helps participants create a system for managing time under any circumstances. Your officers will also learn how to address procrastination, uncover the myth of multitasking, set goals and stay on course, and handle interruptions. We’ll explain the critical connection between organization at home and performance at work. Your officers will complete the program with a highly specific plan in place to tackle their most important goals.

Module 5 – Critical Leadership Skills: Fundamentals of Communication

Communication is the most vital of leadership skills. It can determine whether work and home environments are healthy, happy, and satisfying. Unfortunately, in our society, relatively little time is spent in school or on the job teaching effective communication skills.


In this module, we show how judgments, perceptions, and assumptions affect your officers’ communication; that fight or flight are not the only options; how and why listening is key; the importance of planning and goal setting in communication; strategies for giving and taking criticism; steps to resolve conflict effectively; and more. Great communication skills help increase confidence and improve relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

Module 6 – Service: The Definition of Leadership

This module begins with a discussion of what leadership looks like in real life, defining the role and primary functions of a leader. We continue with a detailed discussion of the classic book, The Leadership Challenge, focusing on the five pillars of Kouzes and Posner’s leadership philosophy.


We will also work with your officers on mission statements, vision statements, priorities, and goals in the specific context of your agency or municipality. We help them to understand the difference between leadership and management while providing a core understanding of servant leadership.

Module 7 – Critical Thinking, Decision Making, and Ethics

This module discusses how the brain processes information and also introduces thinking errors. We will address how memory works (and doesn’t work), how the brain can be tricked, and how thinking biases and cognitive dissonance get in the way of making good decisions.


We also tackle why people act unethically and what makes them lie and cheat. Topics include strategies that will reduce the likelihood of officers acting in an unethical manner.

Module 8 – Creativity, Innovation, and Managing Change: The Core of the Leadership Function

Key leadership competencies include being courageous, taking risks, and experimenting with new approaches to work. In this module, we discuss the critical factors of creativity and innovation in the workplace. Your officers will be encouraged to think inside the box, outside the box, and with no box at all. Part of this discussion will include strategic thinking vs. strategic planning.


We’ll also discuss change and change management, crucial areas that leaders must be comfortable with as managing change sits at the core of a leader’s role. In the context of creativity, innovation, and change, we’ll cover entrepreneurship, ways an entrepreneur sees the world, and how it can be applied to a public organization like yours.

Module 9 – Communication for Leadership: Effective Listening and Public Speaking

Listening is the single most important communication skill in a leader’s toolkit, but one that people are rarely trained in. Effective listening can be the deciding factor in a leader’s ability to lead, and it determines the level of morale in an organization. This module addresses effective listening practices, focusing on active listening as a cornerstone approach to communication. Our discussion will take place within the context of the classic book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. In relation to this, we’ll also cover the topic of motivation.


Because the core functions of leaders are to propagate their ideas, promote their agency’s activities, and construct an effective public policy argument in a variety of settings, we’ll provide the fundamental presentation skills and essential public speaking practices that can be applied to a wide variety of contexts.

Module 10 – Time Management Tools for Leaders

Time management is a crucial skill for leaders to master. The idea of “time” takes many forms when thinking about leadership. It includes managing meetings (planning, conducting, and following up on them), delegation of tasks throughout the organization (and what happens when they fail to do so), mentoring employees so that active professional development can occur, and succession planning long before the succession process is necessary.