There is a leadership void in the law enforcement profession. One of the reasons this void exists is that many agencies fail to teach and develop leadership. Too many agencies still operate under the flawed belief that when they promote you, you become a leader. Promotion, rank, position and title do not make you a leader. They put you in a leadership position, but they do not make you a leader. Leadership is about action, interaction, decision making, influence and treating people with respect. Leaders seek to develop their people and they acknowledge the work and efforts of their people. Leaders give credit to their people when things are going well and ask themselves “What piece of this do I own?” when things go wrong.
Two keys to addressing the leadership void:
- Teach leadership at all levels of your organization including the foundational level – Patrol. All your leadership training needs to be built off a solid foundation, and consistent platform so that as people move into leadership positions they have the leadership skills and and abilities to effectively lead at that level.
- Make leadership a culture in your organization, not just another course that people take to check off the box. One agency has three different leadership programs based on rank, and none of them are aligned in message and language. For them, leadership is a series of courses they take, not a culture. Build your leadership programs so there is consistency at all levels in your organization. Make sure all leadership training uses the same language and are built on a few consistent principles. Too often, people walk away from leadership programs with stacks of binders on leadership principles, theories, strategies and case studies but they cannot tell you one key, constant principle or message from the training. So, make sure you have one or two key repeatable principles or questions that will help guide people to make the best possible leadership decisions. This will be the thread that weaves through all your training programs and discussions.
One example of a guiding question is Life’s Most Powerful Question – What’s Important Now? It is easy to build W.I.N. into your leadership programs, strategic communication training, use of force training and incident command training.
Another great example of guiding question is Bill Westfall’s Leadership Test: Are you doing the right thing, the right way at the right time for the right reason?
As you build the leadership programs you should to sit down with the Chief or Sheriff and the Executive of your agency and find out how you can work with them and best serve them to ensure you are working together to instil leadership as a key element of the culture of your organization.
One final point. Select the right people to teach leadership in your agency. A poor messenger with little or no credibility can cause people to turn off to even the greatest message.
Inspiring law enforcement trainers to utilize Life’s Most Powerful Question – What’s Important Now? to think differently about training.
Here are the links to two recent articles:
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If you would like to book me to speak at your event or to your agency on Excellence in Training, The Heroes Path to Excellence in Law Enforcement, The Pursuit of Personal Excellence or W.I.N.: Lessons From Life’s Most Powerful Question contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.