Seven Leadership Lessons from my Ride-Along with Officer Jayce Gutzler

I am incredibly proud of each of my three kids. This story is about my eldest son Jayce. He is a police officer in the Seattle area. Along with his patrol duties, he also serves on SWAT.

I have been privileged enough to do some ride-alongs and witness up-close and in action his professionalism, excellence, and attention to detail.

Recently, I did the graveyard shift with him and took note of some of the great leadership lessons he and his unit demonstrated. It is truly an amazing thing when a father can learn from his son.

Here are the seven leadership lessons from my ride-along:

1. Personal presence

Make no mistake, when the uniform is on, Jayce has a different look and presence. His posture, eye contact, and voice gain certainty and clarity. He does not try to intimidate, but he clearly is carrying himself with confidence. People follow his lead because he is sure of his decisions.

My take-away: Personal presence and confidence in my leadership is a must!

2. Get briefed and follow your checklist

I was eager to get started with the ride, but before we hit the road Jayce had to attend a squad briefing, followed by a very detailed checklist with his vehicle, equipment, weapons and computer systems in the car. I was especially grateful for his sergeant’s reminders on officer safety.

My take-away:  I have begun developing my own leadership checklist to start my days. Rather than jump into email or social media, I map my day around my desired outcomes.

3. Observation skills

Jayce has a keen ability to observe small details. I had ridden with him before so I was being extra-vigilant in an attempt to match his level of observation. I could not do it. He saw the smallest of details and sifted through them all to catch the relevant ones. He identified the car of a wanted criminal by noticing its rims matched the description provided in the briefing.

My take-away: I am intentionally slowing down and really taking notice of how people are responding to my leadership. I am also beginning to notice small details in my work that can be improved. Finally, I am taking even more time to study and learn from other excellent leaders.

4. Stop for training

In the course of his shift, half of the patrol squad stopped for a 45 minute training on accident investigations. The following day, he spent a full day training with his SWAT unit. I have noticed how they are always learning, reviewing and practicing aspects of tactics and procedures.

My take-away: I am committing to constantly searching out my own training. Everyone can grow from looking to new educators and coaches to aid in their leadership development.

5. React quickly, but do not rush

There were seven times Jayce was called with a message to respond quickly to a situation. While he was driving fast with the lights flashing above us, he shared how he is able to think through the possible scenarios of what will play out when he arrives on the scene. He spoke about being able to slow his thoughts even though his actions cause him to physically move quickly.

My take-away: Slow my emotional response even though the events around me can happen fast.  We should all be more deliberate and thoughtful; take a minute and think through how to make each scenario a success.

6. Show compassion

A trait of Jayce’s which I really admire is his strength of character. He has always been able to demonstrate and offer honest empathy and compassion. On this ride, I observed three separate times where he gave a person a break. It was his respectful tone and human compassion which shined through.

My take-away: Lead with love and compassion. It is as simple and difficult as that.

7. Have emotional self-management

In each ride-along I witness Jayce self-manage his emotions. When dealing with heated and volatile people his poise has allowed him to defuse situations that potentially could have gotten out of control. Emotional intelligence in law enforcement is critical.

My take-away: Emotions drive behavior. My own leadership is best demonstrated when I self-manage my emotions. Stay calm for the best result.

You do not have to be an officer to be a leader; apply these lessons to your daily life and I think you will be better equipped to take charge in every situation. Thank you Jayce for some great lessons!

For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at: or call: (425) 681-9871