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From what I’ve seen in law enforcement, it is a lack of ability to control one’s ego. Law Enforcement is dominated by Type-A personalities. And realistically, you need to be a Type-A personality. One of the things that comes with a Type-A personality is a strong ego, which is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. It allows us to take pride in our work, to strive to become better, to be able to be confident enough to handle adverse situations. However, it also causes us to be close-minded, confrontational, and resistant to change. Throughout my career, I’ve seen internal politics created from personal indifferences result in shattering shift cohesion and creating an adversarial relationship between different divisions. I’ve seen leadership between agencies battle each other, resulting in a lack of mutual cooperation. I’ve seen some agencies waste taxpayer funds to buy assets they didn’t need instead of pooling funds with each other just so they wouldn’t have to refer to another agency. I’ve seen leaders refuse to adopt better and more efficient ways of doing business because they were thought of by someone else.
I don’t come at this from an outside perspective critical of others. Ego mitigation was something I had to learn the hard way in my own career. When I was first assigned as a supervisor, I was abrasive. This was because my ego dominated me. I knew what had made me successful, and was not ashamed to call out others when they did not match “my way.” Even though I often knew of better ways to resolve problems then my subordinates, my abrasive ways made me unpopular and my subordinates often resisted me. The lack of morale drove down productivity in my shift. This became exacerbated when I was assigned a new middle manager who had a personality as abrasive as mine. We clashed constantly, and being the person with the lower position, I lost that fight in the long run and faced discipline. Eventually, I was reassigned to a new shift. Luckily, I had a new supervisor who acted as a great mentor and brought me around to a new method of thinking. I learned how to listen appropriately, and how to attack a problem indirectly to help convince someone to want to change, instead of demanding they change. As a result, the subordinates in my new shift started on the right foot, and we developed a wonderful relationship. Morale and productivity were both high. My upper management saw this as well, and began to gain trust in my ability to handle problems despite my prior discipline. Overall, by learning to channel my ego appropriately, I have become a far more effective leader.