Developing Police Leaders

Article excerpt

Police executives are often faced with the dilemma of adequate supervision. Part of the problem turns out to be whether the department has promoted managers to supervisory positions, or promoted leaders to supervisory positions. Managers are all that is actually necessary to monitor employees and prod them to get their work done. At the same time, however, the tasks for a police supervisor sometimes rise to the level requiring leadership. It takes leaders to minimize complaints and maximize employees.

Leaders convince people that they want to do things. Leaders have a vision and they help others to see the same vision and to buy into the accomplishment of those goals. Police executives need to transform their supervisors from managers into leaders.

Developing existing supervisors into leaders begins with selfassessment. When executives, supervisors and subordinates are asked what they want in a leader, they respond similarly: counselor, disciplinarian, day-to-day guidance, role model, courage, initiative, good listener, clear communicator, equally allocate resources, obtain resources, arbitrator, assigns workload fairly, goal oriented, compassion, humor, leads-by-example, informed, motivator, risk taker, outspoken, fair, loyal, ethical, integrity, moral, value, planner, decision maker, visionary, honest, strongwilled, organized, and trust worthy.

Supervisors will always be aware of the actions of their own supervisors, and in many cases mirror the traits they observe. Supervisors should observe the desired traits in their own supervisors. Development of leadership skills begins with oneself: demonstrating the expected standard of work ethic will eliminate conflicts when informing employees about expectations. However, only being a model of work ethic is not enough, a positive attitude is also necessary. Everyone has bad days, but a supervisor's attitude will be contagious in the work environment and can affect others. Subordinates will reflect the manner in which their supervisor presents himself. Equally important is the willingness to accept blame when wrong and apologize to those who need to hear it. Remember, a supervisor's behavior is under constant observation. If he is desired to be responsible, the tone must be set as an example.

Leaders are responsible for five functions. Planning is an initial step that must occur. Every leader must plan what his goals are, not only for himself, but also for the group or organization that he is associated with. This requires setting or having a vision. Employees are responsible for the day-to-day activities of their assignments. First line supervisors are expected to plan out to the end of the work week, and possibly even for several weeks. Mid-level management, lieutenants and captains, may plan for up to six months, but as the executive of an organization, leaders must plan for a much longer duration. Where is the organization going in two, four or six years? What will be accomplished? What will still need to be done after retirement? What legacy will be left? What will the department have accomplished?

After developing a plan, the manager must organize his efforts, whether individual or group, to achieve his goal. Be sure to select the right people for the assignment, but also ensure not to go to the same people all the time. Every agency has individuals who stand out, but to continue to involve them, ignoring others who could do the job, can cause an agency problems. Ensure that adequate personnel are assigned to complete the tasks or goal.

When working with a group, the manager must lead that group. This does not mean that the group needs to be micro-managed. A good leader is a resource to provide information, contacts and supplies for the group to succeed. They may serve as a sounding board for ideas, but should not focus on how things are done but what is accomplished.

Leaders must also control. Control puts restrictions into place. …