Dr. Darwin L. Jones has long been committed to academic and professional excellence. A member of the National Online Chapter, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Wiley College, a master’s degree in administration of justice and security from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in criminal justice from Saint Leo University.
He also graduated from the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia, and is a captain with the Caddo Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office, where he is currently employed. He is also an adjunct professor at Wiley College as well as an instructor at the Caddo Sheriff’s Training Academy.
That’s why it probably shouldn’t have come as any surprise when he was honored by KSLA News 12 during Black History Month for community service and leadership, as well as being named one of this year’s recipients of the Shreveport-Bossier-DeSoto 2023 African American Make a Difference Award.
For Jones, however, the real reward was inherent in the very acts of service that led to the reward and public recognition. That’s because service and leadership have been woven into Jones’ story for over 30 years.
Building a Lifetime of Service and Leadership
Jones has dedicated his life to community action and leadership. In fact, Jones credits any success or recognition he may enjoy today to his growth as a leader both personally and professionally.
Accolades and accomplishments are rewarding, he notes, but he also stresses that while a committee selected him and his fellow recipients for the 2023 Make a Difference Award, that selection rested on decades of dedicated service and hard work.
“I think that making this kind of contribution to your community and your world requires the development of several skills, including communication, team building, collaboration, and networking. I plan to continue using these skills to serve my community.”
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Military and Law Enforcement Experience Help Shape Leadership Attitudes
Jones’ attitudes towards leadership were formed in part by his service in the United States Marine Corps. As a young member of the Corps, Jones and his fellow Marines were part of one of the strictest and most highly structured fighting forces in the world.
In that regimented context, impactful leadership became a necessity. In high-stakes situations like the ones Jones faced, leadership might be perceived as complex, but Jones' definition is quite simple.
“Leadership means effectively influencing subordinates to achieve a set goal.”
This kind of results-oriented view of leadership is particularly prevalent in the military and in law enforcement agencies, such as the sheriff’s office in which Jones works.
Both the military and law enforcement utilize a highly structured chain of command with high standards of behavior, policy, dress, and comportment in order to achieve goals that ultimately keep us safe.
This approach can sometimes cross into an autocratic leadership style, but even these structured organizations may also be amenable to other leadership approaches that have proven to be successful in various contexts.
How the NSLS Helped Shape Jones AS a Leader
Something that never depends on context, or what goal you are working towards, is the piece of advice that’s most responsible for driving both Jones' work, his success as a Marine, and as a captain in the sheriff’s office.
“Do your best in all things large and small.”
Reaching for excellence at all times can be exhausting, but it helps one make the highest possible degree of impact, no matter what the task at hand may be.
Jones believes that the opportunities and training he’s received as part of the NSLS has helped by giving him a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a leader.
“The tenets of the NSLS have been instrumental in my constant evolution as a leader. They are: Learning is a life-long journey. Everyone has leadership potential. We achieve more together than we do alone.”
Jones’ Advice for Future Leaders
When it comes to role models, Jones doesn’t have to look too far afield from his past experience.
“General Colin Powell was a leader's leader. His stance on effective leadership resounds in the minds of military and civilian leaders. Powell once stated, ‘Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.’”
For future leaders, Jones always recommends one piece of advice from General Powell: “‘All work is honorable. Always do your best because someone is watching.’”
After receiving such high accolades for his service and leadership, Jones could easily rest on those laurels. Instead, he’s not done reaching for new goals.
“I plan to write a leadership or inspirational book. I’m also planning to continue to teach in higher education.”
Whatever Jones decides to tackle next, he will certainly bring all of his energy and leadership abilities to those tasks—large or small.
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