Elevating & Empowering Female Leaders To Rise

Tuesday, August 8, 2023 | 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Kimberly Ann Miller, Kimberly A. Miller & Associates, LLC

What does it take to be a female leader and to make more of them in the emergency communications center (ECC)?

Kimberly Miller, a licensed police & public safety psychologist with 20 years’ experience in police and public safety psychology, explained Tuesday how to recognize and overcome the behaviors holding women (and men) back in the ECC.

Miller said a class called “elevating and empowering female leaders” is needed because many ECCs are filled with women as line workers and men filling leadership positions. She said women are held back by psychological traits such as the lack of self-confidence and by external judgments — from women and men — that unfairly perceive them negatively if they project authority in ways identical to a man.

“We don’t choose often to put ourselves in position to be elevated. And then you have the whole other dynamic of women eating women alive,’’ Miller said. “I want you to leave with more confidence and belief in yourself so you can be and do and have anything that you want.”

Miller wants current leaders to find potential leaders in their workforce by considering what leadership skills they exhibit and then help them hone those skills.

“Every person is different. You have to know the person and not expect them to be any other place than where they are. Meet them there and guide them forward,” Miller said.

To guide them forward, supervisors must communicate expectations and hold them accountable by communicating good and bad performance. Miller dismissed the sink-or-swim method of management. “Prepare people before giving someone the role,” she said.

Miller offered an example of elevating an employee through sending them to a professional conference such as APCO 2023. She recommends discussing expectations about education and improvements before leaving for the conference. The supervisor can examine conference notes and hold the employee accountable for adding value to the ECC upon their return to work. Once the new skills are assimilated, the employee can convey them to ECC colleagues.

She said people can hold themselves accountable by asking for feedback from colleagues and taking potential criticism into account even if it is unpleasant to hear. While supervisors are accustomed to evaluating their underlings, evaluations should also function in the other direction, Miller said.

“We don’t have to agree with feedback to use it and improve ourselves. Most growth opportunities are painful — you really get elevated through a struggle and learning and change yourself not by success, success, success,” Miller said.

By Rick Goldstein