Policing our Strengths – Building Productivity and Relationships with the Indiana State Police

Working in law enforcement in the 21st century can be very demanding in a chaotic and challenging world. SMART Strengths has been fortunate to work with the Indiana State Police and most recently with two different groups from the Criminal Investigations Division. This arm of the ISP investigates serious felony complaints and then assist local and federal policy agencies with investigations. This work is not for the faint of heart.

Good detectives are able to effectively analyze, scrutinize, and evaluate trends in a criminal case. When criminal investigators are comfortable in their own skin in what they do and how they receive feedback from others, they are more ready to forge and maintain healthy relationship among fellow detectives and outside agencies. To that end, John has worked with the ISP Criminal Investigators to focus on their individual and collective strengths.


The detectives and other personnel had an opportunity to “spot” their strengths through completing the Values in Action Inventory. When you know your own strengths, you are better observer of strengths in others and are more attentive to spotting what is good instead of trying to find fault. Lt. Scott Shuh, who leads the Northeastern Indiana CID, commented that spotting strengths in others is a key to leadership, as it is in how you listen to others, assist them in accomplishing the task at hand, giving everyone ownership and personifying greatness. This goes right to what Daniel Goleman, the emotional intelligence guru, calls the empathy triad – this consists of cognitive empathy – thinking how a fellow investigator thinks, emotional empathy –feeling what the other person feels; and empathic concern –knowing what someone else needs from you. During one of the training sessions, several officers were coming off of several sleepless evenings due to a murder investigation, and their fellow investigators did a great job in supporting the diligent work that they had been doing.

High Quality Connections

Good relationships are about using strengths while connecting with and appealing to others. Sometimes, people can be self-conscious about how they see themselves in the world and are concerned about how their peers see them. By asking the investigators to share what strengths they see in each other (the SMART Strengths 360° Gallery Activity). The feedback from external observers helps provided checks-and-balances to what the respective investigator sees in him or herself. Lt. Dave Kirkham, the Northwestern Indiana CID leader claimed that examining your strengths allows you to come out of comfort zone and interact with other investigators in a very personal way. – a great way to develop new relationships and foster old ones. Captain Bob Rich, who is the Deputy Commander for the Northern Indiana CID believes it is essential to know your partners and what they bring to the table. He said, “It is very important in a team environment to concentrate on each other’s strengths to get the job completed and get the best results.”


Once a criminal investigator has the tools, approaches and techniques to help him or her spot, manage and relate his or her strengths individually and in relationships, they are even more prepared to deal with the challenges of tough criminal cases. Kirkham added, “I wish I would have had this training earlier in my career. Identifying my strengths and the strengths of my personnel will assist me in my leadership journey. I am connecting with my coworkers on a different level than I ever have before. I never knew they saw those traits in me.”

Goleman, D. The Focused Leader – Harvard Business Review, December, 2013

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