NTOA Forums Tactical Leadership General Leadership Discuss the Most Common leadership Problems in Law Enforcement.

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    • #4590
      Anonymous
      Inactive
    • #4803
      Kenneth Kollmann
      Participant

      In my opinion the most common leadership problem I see in Law Enforcement is lack of trust and confidence in the “Admin”. Every time I meet with other team leaders I hear about administrators who lower moral with poor leadership. In my own experience, I have seen what appears to be self serving leadership; people who are more worried about promotions, careers or positions than actually leading and doing the right thing. In this course we have heard from some outstanding leaders, its unfortunate that there is so must mistrust between the ranks. There are some exceptions, with great LE leaders, but in my 20 yrs in Law Enforcement, its a rare case to see a highly motivated, competent, high ranking administrators.

      • #7754
        Shannon Cantrell
        Participant

        Kenneth I do agree with you on some aspects of leadership in administration. Administrators that micro-manage the operators or employees sometimes start problems that they are not aware of. The micro-managing does not allow the people at the lower levels to think for them selves. The operators or even team leaders are not allowed to make their own decisions. They are not given the ability to make decisions that could be mistakes that they could learn from. By not being able to make even small decisions, the operators are not able to expand their own skills as future leaders. I think the micro managers need to leave the profession in order to make room for the future outstanding leaders we could have in the future.

    • #4821
      mmWayne Griffin
      Participant

      I believe that one of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is when a mistake is made if the person in charge made the mistake whatever it may be doesn’t always own up to it. If the troops see this, they we slowly lose confidence and other leadership traits in that leader.

      • #5640
        Max Yakovlev
        Participant

        Totally agree!!! Trust is gone and it turns into “Us vs Them” issues.

    • #4873
      mmMichael Reiss
      Participant

      The lack of leadership at the top of an organization, and the lack of Extreme Ownership from those leaders. “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”

      • #5778
        mmFabian Rivera
        Participant

        I agree with you Mike on the lack of ‘Extreme Ownership”, but it’s embedded in society.

      • #8256
        Michael Welch
        Participant

        Michael,
        Yes, Extreme Ownership is what’s needed. We have to figure out a way to instill that in our leaders throughout the department.

        Mike
        p.s. I hope they incorporate that book into these lessons in the future.

    • #4898
      mmMajor Ed Allen
      Keymaster

      Testing nested conversation

    • #4899
      admin
      Keymaster

      Nested reply

    • #4905
      Anthony Kies
      Participant

      I would say the most common leadership problems within many organizations would have to be the attitude and communication that is passed down from first line supervisors. If you have a 20yr Sgt. who only runs down the administration in a very short order it creates major problems within the department. We need to be very conscientious about how we are coming across to our subordinates and what image we are creating for the department.

      • #8534
        Colin Mulacek
        Participant

        Anthony,

        I agree with you. as leaders we need to support the organizational goals whether we agree or not. If as a leader you disagree you can have that conversation upwards but the message that goes downward to your team/units/shifts should be in support of the direction from above. I agree that more often than not leaders allow their personal beliefs to cloud the message being send down the chain instead of working to push the organizational objective.

    • #4975
      Marc Wewee
      Participant

      In my opinion, the most common leadership problems in LE are that command level managers love to send the leadership to classes about leading but then when the aspects learned in those classes are tried to be implemented, command pushes back and does just the opposite. For instance, being a servant leader, leading up and down the chain, and learning about your troops are all qualities that are learned in leadership courses but pushed back from command staff when brought back to the department.
      The other huge problem, as mentioned by Mr. Kies above, is the lack of ownership by first line supervisors and mid-level managers. When the directive is pushed down from command, sergeants and lieutenants need to take ownership and get the troops on board to accomplish the mission. Far too often, they talk down and ridicule in front of the troops which brings the whole organization down and causes mistrust among the ranks.

      • #5011
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great points Marc. When orders or direction comes down from above, leaders have to present that information as if it were there own thoughts. Taking ownership in those directives sends a message to subordinates that they believe in and support those ideas. Anything less causes dissention.

    • #4988
      Brian Jucket
      Participant

      From what I have seen the most common problem is thinking you have an answer for everything, not seeking out answers or experience, and making decisions that go astray and you fail to take responsibility for them overall. You don’t enlist your personnel or encourage there ideas and therefore you just tell them what to do.

      • #5012
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Agreed. I think there are many instances where leaders have to make decisions on their own, without opening it up for discussion. but as you mentioned, when you do that, you also have to accept all of the responsibility when things go wrong. But in most situations, particularly those that are not time sensitive, input should be sought from employees who are involved in the process and will be impacted by the decision made.

    • #5000
      Mike Radford
      Participant

      I have seen the lack of courage recently. Mainly the inability to confront poor performance because they fear the loss of popularity. Buying snacks and joking in briefing rather than standing up front and leading their team with proper vision and motivation. Thoughts?

      • #5013
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        You’re spot on Mike. Any leader who is afraid to confront people and issues, is in it for the wrong reasons. Leaders can be friendly, but that doesn’t mean they can expect to be friends with everyone under their command. More often than not, the essential part of their job is to ask people to do the things they may not want to do or to stop doing the things they do, but aren’t allowed.

    • #5009
      Jason Edwards
      Participant

      I think the most common leadership problems in law enforcement are a lack of trust and a lack of communication. I see a lot of the front line officers do not trust the administration because they believe the people of rank are only out to get them when they make a mistake or force them to complete tasks they feel are not necessary for a sworn officer. The administrators on the other hand often seem like they don’t have faith in the officers to do there job appropriately and completely. They view the world through liability and public perception. All most all of the trust issues could be resolved through better communication. By making it clear what and why things are being done a certain way, the officers know what they are expected to do and why it needs to be done. This helps the officers better understand what they are doing and makes them better at there job. As performance increases, the agency gets better at achieving there mission. As a result, the administration has more faith in the employees and trust is increased on both sides.

      • #5014
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        I think lack of communication is one of the most common problems in any organization. But conversely, how do you as a leader get line level employees to have more of an appreciation for issues like liability and/or public perception? Should they not also value those things?

    • #5039
      Jesse Laintz
      Participant

      Reading the question it would allude to the verb of leadership, describing an action, state, or occurrence. Not that of the word leader as a noun, which would confer someone or describing a role, a position or an office. Because of this I am going to take a little different approach at this by not give a leadership characteristic, but instead common problem that are facing law enforcement today; thus, resulting in problems facing leadership in law enforcement. A lot of this information is from an article that I read recently in Police One by Paul Cappitelli (2016) addressing the seven of the biggest issues facing law enforcement in 2016. With these seven being listed as the biggest challenges for law enforcement, they are also the seven biggest leadership problems for leader in law enforcement.
      1. Anti-Terrorism
      2. Body Worn Camera (BWC) Scrutiny
      3. Civil Unrest
      4. Criminal Prosecution of Officers
      5. Federal Agency Involvement/Oversight
      6. Recruitment and Retention
      7. Social Media

      • #5044
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great approach Jesse and use of the cite on a recent article. But I’m interested to hear how you would deal with one of these issues. So let’s take “Criminal Prosecution of Officers”. As a team leader or commander of a tactical team, what would you tell team members who are concerned with this negatively impacting their ability to do their job?

    • #5048

      One of the most common leadership problems that I have seen is first line supervisors failing to make a decision on a matter that should be handled at their level. Instead of addressing it themselves they send it up the chain for their supervisor to address. The situations that I am referring to happened not because the first line supervisor did not have the knowledge and authority to make the decision, but because they didn’t want to be the bad guy who said no. Leadership entails being able to say no because it is the correct response and not have it be a personal matter.

    • #5212
      William McReynolds
      Participant

      I took a bit of a different angle on this. After reading many of the posts, I felt that all of them were great examples of common leadership problems within law enforcement. After thinking about it a bit, I began to wonder if the common theme of the various problems we all see and experience in our organizations, simply involves leaders in positions of leadership authority who, perhaps, have never truly developed themselves as leaders, or maybe have a warped sense of the concept of leadership overall (or both). For me, this begged the question that I have found myself asking before: How did these individuals (referring to those in leadership positions creating so many problems) become leaders in the first place, if they (perhaps) had warped or poor leadership skills or a poor understanding of the concepts of leadership to begin with?
      In trying to answer my own question, I added in a little anecdotal evidence from my perspective from experiences I have had over the years and observations-mainly from the perspective of experiences related to some medium sized municipal agencies. When I did, something became obvious to me: anyone can and will apply to become a supervisor. What I was then forced to ask myself was: since that doesn’t make one a leader, shouldn’t those with the power to promote be inquiring as to how well developed as a leader any particular candidate is before promoting them to a position requiring leadership? That, I guess, is assuming those with the power to promote are great leaders.
      I realized that I had seen so many examples of individuals who may have been the loudest, the funniest, the best at organizing things, but really didn’t see them out in the field taking leadership roles when it mattered most and time was of the essence. These are honest people, good people, I just didn’t remember seeing them in positions where they demonstrated leadership in the field, or where they sought out leadership development (until they promoted, and departments sent them to these ‘leadership” courses, of course). In their defense, it could have been that they simply didn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate what leadership abilities they had. Even so, having followed some of these individuals after they were promoted proved very difficult; decisions they made showed (to me) incompetent at times, other times simply lacking maturity or more thought, but many times I found they would cause more harm than good, refuse to take responsibility, and create a lot of confusion and dissention with respect to their subordinates.
      I have also seen examples of the opposite-where an individual earns trust from extensive experience and interactions, where he or she inspires others, and the where the individual was an expert in many fields of law enforcement and was leading others long before ever being promoted. I followed those individuals long before they promoted, and following them after was just a “no-brainer” for me. When we look at how long the processes are and how careful an agency is when hiring a civilian to become a law enforcement officer, we still don’t know what we are going to get entirely. I understand that will always be a factor. And I am not advocating that only natural leaders or perfect people need apply to be supervisors (eventually becoming leaders). I just think that agencies may need to give some additional thought in how to determine what makes a great future leader. I really don’t know the answer here, and am not sure whether promotional processes using more written and practical scenario testing-maybe days of it- would do any good.
      So, overall, and I could be way off, but to answer what are the most common leadership problems in law enforcement today, I would say it is the promotion of individuals who do not have leadership experience, have not sought out leadership training and/or are promoting for reasons other than those that truly benefit the organization as a whole. Eventually, individuals such as these find themselves having to lead others, can create toxic environments, dissention and a host of other problems. Maybe, many of these leaders fall into the categories of leaders that “have to work at it” and with the proper guidance and shaping can recognize their own limits and faults and grow as leaders.

      • #5217
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great observations William!

      • #7429
        Matthew Self
        Participant

        I definitely agree with your observation, “anyone can and will apply to become a supervisor.” It appears that this is a truth within our entire society. The people who appear to make the most money, have the most prestige, and the most respect are all supervisors. I’m not necessarily saying these rewards are undeserved, but it appears that many people are more concerned with racing to the top of an organization then becoming skilled at their craft.

        With this in mind, I agree that leaders should keenly focus and modify their process of selecting who specifically should become a supervisor. If you know that the success of your organization will depend truly qualified supervisors, but you also know that everyone will apply even if they aren’t truly qualified, then you need to make sure that your promotion process is finely tuned to be successful.

    • #5245
      Sean Wallace
      Participant

      I think one of the most common leadership problems in Law Enforcement is a lack of communication. This is a very broad topic, and I could apply this to many different areas of Law enforcement. However, I will focus on the relationship side of communication. Throughout the course we have heard that leadership is about relationships and communication. The more I hear this, the more I realize I need to work harder at establishing relationships with those above and below me. With that in mind, I need to do a better job of ensuring the lines of communication are open between those above and below me. As I reflect on employee issues I have encountered as a leader within Law Enforcement, I realize the majority of those issues could have been prevented with better communication.

    • #5246
      mmMajor Ed Allen
      Keymaster

      Relationships and communication! The basic principles of followership! You might like this article:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2016/01/17/why-followership-is-now-more-important-than-leadership/#8facb7c5d640

    • #5248
      mmDerrick Coleman
      Participant

      Accountability. Accountability and moral courage. Often I have wondered how could some of the individuals in leadership position do some of the things I have witnessed or simply fail to do anything. I think that some of the attention definitely should be on the individual, however at times I feel its the system as well. Systems that breed complacency. Sometimes it seems that the thought or the systems, allows for people in leadership levels to do less, and with that comes less accountability. As a leader your responsibility is greater, and the accountability should be also. In our profession, you can’t hang your hat solely on what you have done 10 years ago. I think reevaluating the effectiveness of leadership with more frequency, and the individual leader recognizing that they are responsible for others, it’s not about you and if you no longer can do the job, then this is where the moral courage comes into play.

      • #5251
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Good points Derrick and welcome to the conversation!!

    • #5254
      mmGlenn gordon
      Participant

      In my opinion, the United States Air Force shares many of the same problems currently hindering civilian law enforcement. The issue I would like to address, and a personal pet peeve of mine is decision-making, or lack thereof. This isn’t exclusively an officer or senior non-commissioned problem, but it’s something I’ve noticed in the last five years. We have leaders who dismiss innovation opting to rely on, “That’s the way it’s always been.” That mentality can’t be allowed to persist in any organization. Poor decision-making kills innovation, perpetuates the status quo, ultimately causing burnout in your subordinates. I think the same can be said for civilian law enforcement, the Air Force is now attracting smarter and smarter candidates because we’re at a time where we can be a little selective. And quite frankly, need to be. Although personalities and varying generational backgrounds may cause some tension, we need to remember that these are our replacements. Perpetuating recycled mentalities is not beneficial to their growth. I’m by no means saying pander to subordinates, but actually take time and teach them processes concerning decision-making. Make them explain why they want change, provide them with alternatives, and potential consequences of their actions so they can understand the big picture and their niche earlier in their careers.

      • #5268
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Well said Glenn. I’m a firm believer that every leader should pick their replacement the day they get the job. Creating a culture of welcome dialogue helps you as a leader identify the best candidates for the position.

    • #5305
      mmJon Brambila
      Participant

      In reading the different posts and response it is clear that many of us see many of the same problems in leadership no matter where you are in the country. The lack of good leadership is disappointing and what I have seen is that people do not have the courage to stand up and speak for those who cannot or do not have the courage to address performance issues with individuals. People are just not willing to take on the added responsibilities of being an effective leader and there are many reasons why. Lack of support from the Administration is usually at the top of most lists in that people do not want leadership roles when they know there is no support for them and they feel they are set up to fail. Servant leadership means putting your people first and then yourself and many times I see the opposite occur in that some “leaders” are only looking out for their best interest which makes them no leader at all.

      I like the comment about preparing someone on the first day to take over for me, so many times in my career I have seen a lack of planning in my Department and a lack of preparing someone for leadership. Due to budgets and manpower issues the answer to sending the up and coming leaders to valuable training is unfortunately met with resistance and training loses its priority. I strongly feel that a good leader prepares his replacement well in advance and leaves a legacy behind which can be carried on well after that person is no longer in that leadership role.

      • #5310
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        One of the primary challenges of being in a middle management leadership position, is recognizing that your role of adviser and counselor is to both the people you lead and the leaders you work for. Providing guidance to the people you lead is often the easiest part of that role, in comparison to the later. Your challenge now is to find balance between representing your people and the best interests of the organization.

        Great observations Jon!

      • #5683
        mmJohn Atkins
        Participant

        Jon,

        Your post resonates with me as I was always taught that we should leave a place (agency, unit, etc.) better than we found it. This entails preparing your replacement for the true challenges of the position. It also involves having a positive influence on the lives of all of your followers and encouraging them to seek improvement in themselves, peers, and unit.

    • #5339
      mmRick Ryan
      Participant

      This discussion has amplified the patterns inherent in our profession. I found early on as young ambitious officer that the desire to “climb the ranks” had to be tempered by the expertise, or better explained, command of the various skills needed to not just complete a mission, but to complete it well. I found through thoughtful mentoring that the bonafides that comes with experience, reputation, and historical performance is sometimes as important as actual ability. Young inexperienced officers/agents in leadership roles often times are sabotaged by their perceived lack of experience. This advice caused me to be patient and search out learning opportunities which would strengthen the foundation of my experience and qualify me for more challenging assignments. It takes patience, which is sometimes an obstacle for ambition, but I believe it pays dividends in the long run.

      • #5344
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Well said Rick! Mentorship is truly the key here. We know that TRAINING + EXPERIENCE = COMPETENCY. Having a mentor available to help you walk both of those parallel paths is invaluable.

    • #5340
      Corey Odell
      Participant

      The most common problem I see at my agency is a lack of unity of command. All of our Operators are expected to answer to their assigned Assistant Team Leader who in turn answers to the Team Leader who in turn answers to the Team Commander, however in general many Operators will jump from leader to leader to get the answer they want and the Commander allows this to happen. It strips authority from the Team Leader as well as the Assistant Team Leaders and sets a horrible principle. This is a culture on my team and they only way to fix it is to have uncomfortable conversations with everyone involved, however no one likes giving up power whether it be actual or perceived power. No easy fix, but a problem that has the potential to undo an entire Team.

      • #5345
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Undoubtedly that will create confusion and trust issues within a team. But you are absolutely correct in saying that conversations need to occur surrounding this. Commanders should have an appreciation for the work that TLs and ATLs are willing to take on and should give them as many opportunities as possible to handle issues and make decisions first, before they rise to level that the commander gets involved.

    • #5376
      Jeffrey Brown
      Participant

      I have been fortunate in my SWAT career to have competent leadership. I have, and I’m sure most you have, had problems with leadership in general in law enforcement. Many times, I have seen officers promoted to positions above their skill level. Officers being promoted into incompetence, or solely for politics, is a cancer I feel we will never rid from the job. Being a good politician does not necessarily equate to being a good leader. If political gain is the goal, leadership goals may go by the wayside. I have personally failed to get on board and play politics and it has put a few speed bumps on the road for my career. I do sleep well at night knowing that I haven’t sold my soul.

      • #5377
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Every leadership position is accompanied by some level of office politics. The challenge is to not completely disengage yourself from it, but rather figure out how to maintain your integrity while navigating through it successfully. Keep in mind that each time a leader moves up a level, they tend to view the world and challenges differently than they did in their previous position. So eventually the politics make more sense, but by then it’s often too late! I think the challenge your describing is that leaders often make decisions, without fully explaining the reasons for them. The fact that you are conscious of that now, suggests that you will not find yourself in a similar position.

    • #5389
      mmJuan Gonzalez
      Participant

      In my point of view, the most common leadership problem in law enforcement is consistency. Their is no consistency in management styles or leadership styles. By the nature of everyones training background (training institutes) and experience (part of the country) , each style is different, eventhough the concepts are the same. Therefore, it breeds inconsistency in police department operations. The most common complaint of personnel in most departments is that leaders (POLICE CHIEFS) are not consistent in disciplinary actions, promotions, assignments, best practices, protocols, termninations and hirings. I believe that we can minimize the leadership problems in law enforcement by conducting self assessments of our department operations regarding the above issues.I think this applies to our swat teams as well. Their needs to be consistency in conducting operations in order for them to be successfull.

      • #5453
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great insights Chief and I hope all of your peers in the program read this. I think folks often forget the challenges that agency CEOs (Chiefs, Sheriffs, Directors, etc) are faced with, and that those CEOs have to make decisions with best interest of the organization in mind. You are spot in in your observations about inconsistency. With nearly 18,000 agencies in this country, there are clearly a wide variety of leadership styles. It is also very true that without a set of standards or benchmarks, we can not ensure consistency.

    • #5413
      Adam McCambridge
      Participant

      After reading all of the comments and comparing them to my own experience it seems there are leadership deficiencies in 3 major areas: Communication, Trust, and Action. Every leadership problem described (and that I observe/experience in my agency) can be placed under one of these three broad categories. It also appears a deficiency in one category has a negative impact on the others – they are all interrelated. As one example (and there are an infinite number), if my chain of command fails to effectively communicate their intent, their resulting actions (or lack of) are often misinterpreted which results in a lack of trust by those impacted by the decisions.

      Another example starting at one of the other categories: A supervisor fails to hold people accountable for their actions (Action) because they perceive a lack of support by the administration (Communication) which results in the breakdown of discipline and respect for the chain of command (Trust).

      • #5454
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Glad you took the time to read the other posts and good points. Interesting how so many of us have experienced the same challenges. So my somewhat rhetorical question to everyone here is, What do you do now? How will you be different than those you are critical of? What will you do when the people you lead, say the same about you?

    • #5476
      Josh McDonald
      Participant

      The most common problem I see with leadership in law enforcement is the blame game. Whenever something goes bad leaders are hiding in their offices with the doors shut. If they do stand up, they blame everyone and anyone but themselves. Everyone is always happy to take credit for successes but no one wants the responsibility of failure. Very few leaders are willing to conduct an in depth self-critique of an event. Most of us learn lessons through mistakes. If we are unable to look at our mistakes we will not learn the lessons we most need.

    • #5490
      Ryan Cunningham
      Participant

      Trust and communication are probably the two biggest issues. Trust haws to be earned. When the new boss is hired from the outside and/or is from the department and becomes a hermit in there office the trust can not be grown. If the Officer on the street has never seen you do the job or even heard you on the radio they will not feel any connection and thus you will only get compliance or action based on title. Communication is that two way street, that normally has a major traffic crash and only seems to work in one way. So without the communication both face to face and written you have no ability to build trust. Then you have to listen to the communication that is sent. Ensuring that you are listening to the communication up and making sure that the information going down is being disseminated and understood as intended at all levels.

    • #5502
      mmDrew Leblanc
      Participant

      I believe that all of us can attest to the challenges that are faced by leadership, but not many people are taking ownership of their downfalls. I am a work in progress leader, who makes numerous decisions on a daily basis that can adversely affect the lives of numerous employees. Are all those decisions the correct ones, probably not, but it is important to understand what you are lacking before pushing the blame outward. It is easy to express outward without making the conscious effort of what we are doing every day to improve the faults. Iron sharpens Iron and accountability holds truth.

      Lt. Drew LeBlanc MACJ, Lafayette Parish Sherff’s Office

    • #5641
      Max Yakovlev
      Participant

      Slow to make a decision and/or make no decision in hopes that an issue would resolve it self. Whether community problem or personnel issue.

      • #5648
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Can you expand on that a little more or give a more detailed example Max?

    • #5649
      David Allen
      Participant

      I believe the two common leadership problems in law enforcement today are lack of emotional intelligence and failing to communicate appropriately. In articles and in leadership courses I’ve learned that this is the first time ever that four generations are in the work force. This creates a problem for leadership because some leaders are not patient nor flexible enough to deal with this many different personalities. Each of these generations require to be handled in different ways. For example, the “Millennial’ s” require more positive feedback than generations before them don’t require much feedback at all. Giving constant feedback can be exhausting and some leaders are not willing to adjust their mentality to different generations even if it means they lose production out of their people. Having strong emotional intelligence would help leaders find what motivates each individual in order to maximize there individual potential. I believe you have to treat everyone the same when it comes to respecting others, staying within legal guidelines, and agency policy but a leader must find and exploit each individuals strengths and work on their weaknesses.

      I believe strong communication skills are also very important. Communicating effectively with subordinates and with the public is the primary job of a leader and supervisor. An instructor I had for a leadership course said that “the higher rank you become the better the communicator you have to be.” I believe this is true because if you are leading people but your communication is abrasive or offensive to people than goals are not met because people don’t want to listen. It’s the same with the public. Leaders have to be able to communicate politely and professionally with the public in order to help them understand the reason why we do the things we do. There are times that we cannot give nor do we owe an explanation for what we do but any opportunity we can take to explain something to a citizen we serve that helps them better understand only helps build that relationship with the public. Even if they don’t like what we have to say they might not tell us at the time but they will respect our professionalism and forthcoming.

      • #5682
        mmJohn Atkins
        Participant

        David,

        You make an excellent point in regards to leaders having a need for a synthesis in emotional intelligence and effective communication. The application of these two ideals can be reflected in Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model. This model emphasizes the behavior of the leader in the relationship to their followers. As you stated, there are four generations currently in our workforce, with additional unique characteristics that have been modified by influences such as military service, combat exposure, and even college graduates that have been heavily influenced by political ideology. This requires leadership that can navigate through these differences and provide the appropriate direction based upon the maturity of the individual, group, or unit. The acceptance of direction from leadership will be influenced by how effective the leadership is in communication and appropriate emotional intelligence.

    • #5681
      mmJohn Atkins
      Participant

      Leaders must be positive examples of the beliefs that they espouse to others. In our modern era, one of the most derogatory terms to describe a leader is “hypocrite.” We are inundated with stories, commentaries, and interviews about leaders that are hypocritical or even criminal in their behavior. This separates “leadership” from “ethical leadership.” Ethical leaders believe and live the morals that they stand for, and they desire to leave a positive and enduring legacy. Leaders can possess all of the characteristics that help them influence the actions and behaviors of others in a positive manner but if they have are found to be hypocritical, it can have devastating consequences. Not only to their reputation but also to the good works that they have accomplished and leave some of their followers severely jaded.

    • #5756
      Randy Pollard
      Participant

      I believe that there are too many managers in organizations, and too few leaders. There are plenty of people in my organization that can efficiently do paperwork and fill out time sheets. Those who can inspire and teach are few and far between. I believe it is our duty as leaders to teach those we supervise to be better than us. For this reason, I believe that all SWAT Operators should be instructors in some aspect of our tactical discipline. The same goes for the Investigators I lead. I believe this instills a level of ownership in our organization. It allows them the opportunity to experience leadership on a smaller, more controllable level. When I first started with my department, there was only one individual that was qualified to teach all of the department in any discipline. Thank goodness we have gone through a long period of progressive leadership. Now the instructors are spread throughout the department. This gives ownership of the department to more of the deputies. It also helps to develop leaders.

      • #5757
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Well said Randy! Our success is defined by the success of the people we lead. Want to feel powerful? Give some of your power away to others!!

    • #5758
      Randy Pollard
      Participant

      I believe we also need to understand that just because you have attained rank, that does not mean that you can lead. My reason for wanting to go through this course was to develop the skills necessary to lead. It amazes me that there are hundreds of courses for firearms and building clearing tactics, yet there are very few that address developing leaders. Just because you have the certificate to teach does not make you an instructor. In the same right, just because you have the rank does not make you a leader. Too often people are give stripes and bars with no true idea how to accomplish the goal of leadership. A simple set of expectations by you direct supervisor and a pat on the back, then you are off. We need to concentrate more on developing those officers prior to the day they take the rank.

    • #5770
      mmMichael Diehl
      Participant

      This thread explores some very valid and interesting points. I must say I have seen and experienced many of the same things discussed. Might I offer another perspective that I have found to be a root issue in LE leadership. This may be jurisdictionaly specific, but has been an issue (I feel) within my organization for years.

      The issue is one of selection. Rank (leadership position) is gained in my department by taking a Civil Service exam. Beyond that score, seniority becomes the next biggest deciding factor in who is appointed to a leadership position. This is incredibly flawed. We promote test takers and those who have been around the longest. There is no barometer or relevant metric for leadership in this model. Too often I have seen a “supervisors” authority undermined the moment they were promoted by virtue of their own reputation. Promotions that probably wouldn’t have been made if a more conscientious process was in place. I would much prefer to see a competitive promotion/selection process based on performance as it relates to leadership principles. Core competencies should be evaluated under circumstances that also test character and ones ability to actually lead.

      • #5773
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great observation Michael. While minimum levels of experience as a prerequisite to testing are appropriate, seniority as a scored value is becoming more and more dated. The candidate that does not test until later in their career could be because of discipline issues, a lack of interest in leadership or a lack of confidence in themselves and ironically they would actually score higher than their peers simply because of the time they waited. As we witness the mass exodus of seasoned officers from the profession and the influx of new officers, “seniority” or “time in grade” scoring will take on a whole new meaning. Private sector employers have recognized this and no longer place the same value on experience, but rather on skill sets for the job and a candidate’s willingness to learn.

    • #5779
      mmAaron Springer
      Participant

      I was pleased to read through so many thoughtful and insightful responses. I believe one of the most critical issues in LE today is founded in a lack of 360 degree accountability. In so much as defining standards and expectations, and holding people accountable to the standard despite personal relationships or lack of courage. Followers must be accountable to leaders, and leaders to followers based on the standard and defined expectations. Once a lower standard is accepted, by either; leader or follower, it becomes the new standard, and that is not acceptable. I think it is important to note, often times the leader displays behavior showing he/she is not held to the same standard as the subordinate follower. This has an incredible negative effect on morale, which will lead to an inability to accomplish the mission.

      V/R,
      Aaron

    • #5789
      mmJeremy Lorenzo
      Participant

      I have seen many flaws in police leadership over the years. The biggest being a lack of trust that is developed between superiors and subordinates when subordinates believe that superiors are “self serving”. Whether this is true or not of the superior, if this is the perception, then it become reality. This is often spurred due to superiors losing touch with subordinates and in an essence “failing to remember where they came from”. Once trust is lost or is damaged, it is very difficult to positively influence others and dissension and bad morale soon follow.

      • #5795
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Sad, but very true Jeremy. I suspect that somewhere along the line, a leader demonstrated his or her trust in you and that made a lasting impression. We can never lose sight of the impact that we have on the people we lead.

    • #5792
      mmChris Eklund
      Participant

      The biggest problems in law enforcement as they relate to leadership are when individuals are put in place and have either no experience in the position or do not possess the necessary leadership traits to handle the position appropriately. Often times, those with leadership titles are put in place to broaden their experience levels. This has a negative impact on personnel when they come to realize they have more knowledge than the person placed in charge of them. This may lead to a lack of respect or dissension when the person in the leadership position fails to recognize their need to defer to those who may know more than they do. All too often, pride gets in the way of such practices and key mission essential tasks are overlooked. This leads to the eventual failure of units.

      • #5794
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great observation Chris. Although historically, effective policy development has not been considered one of the necessary skills of a SWAT leader, it is quickly becoming so today. It’s incumbent upon all SWAT leaders today to implement minimum training, education and experience levels into the policies that surround all levels of leadership positions in our teams, even those above us when possible.

    • #5963
      mmDrew Williams
      Participant

      In addition to what has already been addressed, I would offer the “Noble Cause” syndrome. Failing to properly assess, hold accountable and truly evaluate the operational effectiveness or performance of personnel. In this day and age of everyone gets a trophy this is far to often an easy way out and a true leadership failure. The lack of willingness or ability to call a spade a spade and rewarding negative or errors in behavior is a problem. When we reward negative behavior or fail to address appropriate decision making or operational effectiveness, we are continue to promote and reward poor performance which is degrading to the overall perception and expectations of our profession.

      • #5964
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great point Drew. Do you think this could be associated with a new leader’s inability to separate themselves from the ranks they once came from?

    • #6019
      Don Almer
      Participant

      Many great posts by folks so far and I’ll do my best to toss something different into the discussion.

      I feel that one of the most common leadership problems that I have viewed throughout my career is lack of folks’ willingness to listen to / view / learn from others’ perspectives. Regardless of rank, title, position or task. As many have already commented, different communication styles, leadership styles, etc. can lead to an “us vs. them” attitude, a lack of trust, or an upsetting of the decision-making process. I feel that is important at all levels in an organization that folks are actually seeking to understand others’ points of views.

      We all know that as we attain different positions or duties we do our best to learn that position or duty. And with that learning usually we get different perspectives and can modify how we do things, our opinions, etc. Has that person “changed?” Is that always bad? And wouldn’t others benefit from listening to / learning from what brought those changes about?

      A simple example would be Operator A, who has been a solid operator for a several years. Things happen internally and they are now a team lead. They will see the world in a different way… and perhaps some of their new views conflict with how they used to see things / do things / etc. Without communication between Operator A and teammates, and a genuine willingness to listen to Operator A’s changed perspectives folks might be quick to dismiss Operator A as now being “different” or a “sell out” or “one of them” or whatever term is used.

      I feel that if folks took the time to discuss what each other’s perspectives are, and seek understanding of what those perspectives are, a lot gets lost to simply chalking things up to those old sayings.

      And as a closing note wouldn’t it be great if we all just accepted that some folks know more than us in certain areas, be humble enough to recognize that and seek to learn/understand? Sometimes administrators have no clue… it’s okay to let those that know, do. Sometimes line officers have no clue… it’s okay to say that without tearing others down.

    • #6027
      mmRyan Leavengood
      Participant

      The most common leadership problem in law enforcement that I have witnessed is the lack of humility. I have seen time and again a leader who is unwilling to consult or include their subordinates in their decision making process, even when they know the subordinates have more experience in the respective matter. It would appear the leader has an inability to humble themselves and ask for assistance or feedback from someone of a lower rank. I believe this behavior stems from a fear of becoming embarrassed to admit they don’t know as much as their subordinates, or perhaps it’s simply due to an inflated ego. This has always been quite baffling to me. If I elicit feedback from my subordinate on an issue I don’t know much about, I have just entered into a learning environment. I have just created an opportunity to get better. Nonetheless, this seems to pop up again and again.

      • #6028
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great points Ryan. I couldn’t agree more that when leaders involve their personnel in the decision making process, it helps build trust. But keep in mind, some decisions are made above the leader (by their leaders) and often come with instructions to sell it as if it were their own. The “Leadership = Followership” balance occurs at all levels.

    • #6029
      mmJacob Taylor
      Participant

      While I agree with the posts on this thread about communication being a common problem, I believe consistency is another issue. Consistency in policy, consistency in discipline and consistency in treatment. I’ll give an example: If there is a policy on job openings throughout your department (resume, interviews and sometimes physical assessments) and you allow units to decide to ignore all of that and “hand pick” for some positions, it causes a wave of morale issues at the ground level. It’s similar to having a policy for front line supervisors being required to spend a year in patrol before getting a specialty assignment…then promoting someone and immediately sending them to a specialty unit because they have some favor with the command staff. Consistency builds trust, expectations and allows people to feel like there is some order in everything. jt

      • #6033
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Well said Jacob. The type of favoritism and exceptions you described are a sure fire way to undermine trust within an organization!

    • #6073
      Lance Bolinger
      Participant

      The most common Leadership Problem I see in Law Enforcement today is failure to take risks to deter criminal activity. My agency like many has adopted a strict pursuit policy that requires our officers to only pursue for violent felonies, and even then there are numerous restrictions being placed on them. This has resulted in an increased number of suspects fleeing from our officers in vehicles. The safe play is to not pursue these suspects as the police leaders will never be held accountable for taking no action. On the opposite end, if you decide to allow your officers to pursue these suspects, and the incident ends up bad it falls directly on the leaders for allowing the pursuit to continue. Therefore, police leaders have been conditioning themselves into a role of non-action, and I think this goes against the basic foundation of being a police officer.

    • #6077
      Denny Perkins
      Participant

      I have spent most of my 21 year career with a department that has a long history of good, elected leaders, for which I am very thankful. Early in my career, I worked a few years with a small town department that had small town problems- the mayor hated the chief; the chief hated the mayor; and the officers were caught in the middle. In that instance, the officers did not know where to lay their loyalty and were in constant turmoil. Similarly, having worked with surrounding agencies, both large and small, I have seen departments with appointed chiefs make the same power-struggle mistakes, and their departments have suffered. Therefore, I believe that one of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is the leader who does not have the complete, unadulterated authority to lead.

    • #6115
      mmKevin Coggins
      Participant

      Don’t know that I can write anything that hasn’t already been posted. I have experienced much of the same problems, including leaders with lack of experience and not enough common sense to listen to those who have done the job for decades, supervisors concerned with personal liability and getting promoted instead of doing the right thing, and showing favoritism. These things echo in my mind when I am hesitant to take a leadership position. I feel too often people who would be great leaders don’t want the headaches. They either don’t have the support of upper management when they make decisions or they just love doing their job and don’t want to give it up. I have also worked for a leader that was hesitant to train someone as a successor for fear they were trying to take his job. These things concern me and motivate me to not be that person. I’m not saying that I am a great leader, just that I want to be. Good experienced people have to step up and take on these roles to fix some of the problems. I learned as much about leadership from experiencing poor leadership as I have experiencing good leadership.

    • #6151
      Heath Clevenger
      Participant

      The most common problems in leadership of Law Enforcement is the lack of example setting and leading from the front. All to often guys get to a position and think that one part or another of the job is beneath them because they made Sgt., Lt., or Capt. Those guys need to still get out and mix it up with the guys. They need to make cases, make arrest, write reports and do it very well. You should be the example of how reports are written, of how to deal with complainants, and how to make a solid case. It seems that the more they move up, the less police work they actually want to do.

      • #6153
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Your point here speaks directly to the “Leadership vs Follower-ship” concept. All good leaders recognize the importance of understanding the roles and challenges of all their personnel. While they may not be out there doing the actual job, they can at a minimum be present on occasion to observe and stay current on what those challenges are. Having your employees see you do the work and contributing to the overall goals of the team is even more beneficial.

    • #6215
      mmShawn Wilson
      Participant

      The most common leadership problems that I see in law enforcement are EGO and the forgetting of officer, deputy, trooper welfare when making day to day decisions. If our deputies, officers and troops are consistently being barraged by negative memo’s, emails, rumors then the moral and safety of our people drops dramatically.

      Leaders are the ones that publicly praise when needed and only discipline those in private, extinguish false rumors and their number one priority is that their people go home safely.

      When EGO starts getting involved (politically motivated, promotion, grinding an axe with someone, thinking that a job is below them) the decision making process becomes distorted and the welfare of our people suffer.

      How many of us have been to training courses where the instructor while giving an overview of the course will say “lets check our ego’s at the door and be open to new ideas”, but when we get back to our agencies what happens; Are we still open to new ideas?

      • #6223
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Well said Shawn. All too often leaders forget that the most important measurement of their success, is the success of those they lead.

      • #6229
        mmAaron Springer
        Participant

        Well written Shawn. Ego is a major issue that affects both leaders and followers. I was fortunate enough to attend a grad level Emotional Intelligence course, wherein we spent a lot of time with self evaluations to really drill in to how our Ego affected our interactions with other. The credo on our team is, Confidence in our abilities, yet subdued in our interactions with others. Humility and lack of ego are critical foundational characteristics on our team. However, I learned there is a big difference between how one believes he/she is being perceived and how other really think about an individual. We used a great tool to solicit anonymous feedback from our work group that really shed some light on how I was perceived as the Commander of the Team. This was a great ego check for me and has truly helped me identify behavior challenges that have been in my self evaluation blind spots. I would strongly encourage all of you to participate. It is free of charge and an absolutely invaluable learning opportunity.

        The web site links are as follows….be prepared, it is sometimes a tough read once you get the results.

        Positive Traits

        https://kevan.org/johari

        Negative Traits

        https://kevan.org/nohari

    • #6227
      mmSam Betz
      Participant

      I think the most common leadership
      problem in Law Enforcement is a lack of consistency. With a lack of consistency, there is a lack of trust and accountability. This lack of trust and accountability can the. adversely effect morale and performance. The lack of consistency is most often seen in attitudes and “expectations” of supervisors. When I see supervisors with consistent attitudes and expectations, even if the expectations are high, they are usually met and the supervisor is valued by the subordinates and the organization.

    • #6247
      mmJake Stoll
      Participant

      It’s nice to see that in agencies large and small, rural and urban, state or local, we all tend to have the same challenges. I do think that we are on our own as a profession though, with respect to other careers. We have seen a push by some administrators to try and adopt leadership principals, core values, and mission statements from the private sector and can’t figure out why the square peg won’t fit into our round hole. We are a unique entity and need to understand ourselves as such. Sure, there are plenty of pieces and parts to other organizations outside of policing that we can certainly use, but we need to have a greater understanding of how they will fit into what we do instead of just scratching our heads as to why our 4Q sales weren’t up 2.5%.

      Leadership vs. Management is another common leadership problem that I see. Our promotional processes seem to put managers into supervisor positions more often than leaders. Administrators seem to select those who will blindly go along with what they want, instead of putting people in those roles who will challenge, and therefore validate, what goals have been set. As Ellis and Javidi said in their 2015 article in Law Enforcement Today, Blitz leadership: Directing values today, “Managers who are not with the plan should speak out in the development of the plan with top executives. Courage is a process of leadership.” We don’t like to use the term conflict as a positive, but seem to give it a negative connotation. In reality, conflict allows for an environment in which ideas are either validated and sold through salesmanship, or scrapped for a better, more broad-viewed approach. We need more conflict in law enforcement administrations.

    • #6272
      mmBrian Bomstein
      Participant

      I think communication and trust within an agency as a whole are the most common problems. Especially when the topic of a union is brought into it. You may want to have discussions about a certain path the agency is headed down or a new piece of equipment or even a change in the schedule but you are almost afraid to bring it up because you don’t want to deal with the implementation and impact discussions. I think this limits the amount of information that supervision is comfortable sharing with bargaining members and in return, the officers feel like they are “never told anything” when the topic is finally brought up. Therefore a lack of trust in both officers and supervisors is perpetuated.

      • #6275
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Valid point Brian. Labor issues always seems to stifle informal communication. It’s tough for any organization to make any forward progress unless all levels of employees are freely expressing their opinions and ideas with each other.

    • #6300
      Brian Lord
      Participant

      It is my belief that the most systemic problem facing Law Enforcement is “leadership” as a whole. Most of us have seen and worked for appointed/assigned “leaders” and fellow employees in our ranks that choose to rule by fear/force vs true leadership traits such as motivation, inspiration, and influence. Those “do as I say not as I do” type of leaders.

    • #6306
      James Beane
      Participant

      I think one of the biggest problems with leadership has to do with a lack of communication. A lot of problems can be mitigated by having frequent and honest communication with subordinates. I’ve seen poor or non-existent communication make small problems worse because without at least a little information people will fill in the missing pieces themselves. The pieces they eventually use to fill in the gaps are often exaggerated, fear-based, and flat out wrong. Clearly stated goals, future actions, and information can go a long way towards heading off small problems before they become big problems.

    • #6321
      Diana Clevenger
      Participant

      I don’t think any answer I put here will be new or shocking to anyone, nothing we haven’t seen before right. There is great resistance for some reason to the very foundational problem. People are resistive to it, don’t understand it, think it is not our role; yet it encompasses everything that we do, should do and must do to maintain and grow this profession.

      Most of us had jobs before we came to policing. I have asked around and people worked at tire shops, stores, hotels, and a variety of other career paths. All of those jobs had one thing in common, customer service. Customer, who is our customer? It is the community in its entirety, even the people not like us. It is the suspects, the victim’s and the one we forget most often: each other.

      How do we translate these customer service skills into leadership. It really does come down to treating people with dignity, providing them a service, finding out how to get to yes and telling people the WHY. Why did we do, what we did, when we did it? As a Veteran we were taught not to ask why. As a leader we should be asking people to challenge decisions and processes when appropriate. If we only would answer the why, morale, service and leadership would be improved. Answering the why could even have the affect of establishing trust and relationships, and certainly would improve the age old problem of communication.

      • #6323
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Yes!!! Start with Why!!

      • #6490
        Nick Sprague
        Participant

        Great point. I don’t think answering the “Why” is the problem, it’s being humble enough to see that we need to answer the “Why.” In my relatively short time as a Sergeant I am amazed at the lengths that some supervisors will go to in order to completely go against anything and everything that is ever taught in leadership classes, including starting with the “Why.”

    • #6408
      Adam Bradford
      Participant

      I believe there are many issues in Law Enforcement, to start, the most common I believe is leading by example or “from the front”. In Law Enforcement there are numerous people who adopt the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. This approach quickly diminishes any type of respect a subordinate would have for their leader. As a leader, one must lead by example, if a mistake is made, they need to own it. Being a leader isn’t all about having the “rank” or “title”, however, some do feel that is the most important aspect of being a leader. Yes, the personnel who have earned their rank have been in this profession long enough, but by earning rank will not earn you respect as a leader. Most of these “leaders” feel differently.

    • #6452
      Nick Sprague
      Participant

      I would say the most common problem is humility. I have seen too many times that we, as supervisors, are supposed to have all of the answers and act as such. I can’t count the number of times, as a new supervisor, something has come up and I don’t know what the protocol or answer is but I know a subordinate who has recently dealt with the issue. If I didn’t have the humility to admit that I didn’t know the answer and then seek out input from that subordinate it would have turned out poorly for me.

    • #6550
      Denny Perkins
      Participant

      I believe that the most common leadership problems are inconsistency in supervision practices and not communicating goals or orders effectively. As a baby cop, I distinctly remember scratching my head at supervisory inconsistencies and contrasting decisions made by an elderly police chief. That’s been many years ago, but I have held on to the “don’t do as they did” approach throughout my career. I believe that those early years were good learning lessons for me, and have helped me communicate my expectation more clearly.

    • #6568
      mmClinton Price
      Participant

      I feel the most common leadership problem in Law Enforcement is the lack of Trust and Communication. I have seen it first hand, and have been to countless leadership courses, seminars etc. where officers complain or agree about the lack of both. The confusing thing that I see is that no matter how many of us have commented on the same issue, we still can not figure out how to persuade our leaders to work on this problem.

      Fortunately, I have seen some failed leadership issues and have attempted to apply them to my daily activities with both the team and officers on the street.

    • #6654
      mmSam Betz
      Participant

      I think the most common leadership problems in law enforcement have been over confidence by positional leaders who have a lack of competence. They are not self aware and make decisions based on their own self interests and not in the best interest of the organization or the team/unit. This has resulted in a lack of trust and poor morale that has lasted for years.

      • #6659
        mmMajor Ed Allen
        Keymaster

        Great observation Sam! So how do subordinates working for a leader like that change the course or break that cycle?

      • #6765
        Coleman Morrell
        Participant

        There’s a really apt Psychological Principle that explains this issue. It’s a very common problem in my agency too. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect

        In my experience, the only way to deal with this is to either try to “educate up” a difficult thing to do, or do all the work yourself, not worrying about where the credit goes. Not a good situation either way.

    • #6784
      mmChris Lapre
      Participant

      The biggest leadership problems today are those joining this profession to simply promote and take on “leadership” with no experience. We see this with the new generation of LEO’s that join and within a year decide that they want to be a sergeant because they “can do it better” and are the ones who ended up leading by “because I said so” authoritarian type leadership.

      Second is those who are in upper admin and are out of touch with those who actually are doing the work. You often get people who tend to go the route of “that is the way we have always done it” attitude. Times change along with TTP’s and as leadership we need to be open minded to accept that things are not always going to be the way it was. This is where those of us coming up within these roles need to stay current with changing trends or allow those below us in charge take control as long as we are kept up to date on their direction and explanation as to why.

    • #6797
      mmBilly Downey
      Participant

      The biggest leadership problem I see in LE is the disconnect between Admin and the rank & file. The Chief has lofty ideas and expectations. These are passed down to the rank & file but somehow along the way, the message changes. It is much like the game we all played as kids where someone tells the next kid something and by the time it makes it back to the leader of the group it has morphed and changed. I have always been a firm believer the higher you go, the more your forget what it is like to be a cop. I try to keep this in mind when I am dealing with issues from above and below.

    • #7239
      mmRyan Moore
      Participant

      One of the most common leadership problems is accountability. Whether it is holding yourself accountable in front of others, or as a leader/supervisor, failing to properly assess and hold others accountable and truly evaluate the effectiveness or performance of personnel.
      A leader must first hold themselves accountable. No person is correct 100% of the time. It’s ok to admit if you made a mistake as long as you learn from it and don’t repeat it.
      The lack of holding others accountable and being honest in the feedback you provide to others can be a sign of being a weak leader. This can cause a lack of trust in those around you and can cause morale and productivity to decline.

      • #8527
        Nick Godwin
        Participant

        Ryan,

        I am in total agreement with accountability. The easiest way I see to be accountable to your subordinates is to lead by example. Nothing irritates me more than to have a “leader” who practices, a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. I have seen leaders who will write someone up for being two minutes late for a shift one time but they themselves come in five minutes late regularly. This is a recipe for problems and such a leader needs to hold themselves to a higher standard. Great point.

    • #7324
      Jon Thompson
      Participant

      I think the most common and persistent leadership problem over recent years is a lack of moral courage. This can manifest itself at every rank in our profession, but I’m thinking specifically of command level positions. Whether it is a refusal to make a hard decision and instead pass on judging subordinates and even colleagues, or if it involves not publicly defending staff when they have made the right decisions (this can still be done in a general sense even at the outset of a situation, such as at an OIS scene). The lack of moral courage leads to a lack of trust in and of the leader, from his followers to the community that is being under-served.

    • #7397
      mmBrandon Ince
      Participant

      A common problem that I have seen in law enforcement is that dynamic of leaders vs. managers. In my experience, departments say that want leaders, but don’t establish a system or standards to develop their people as such. They tend to create (promote) mangers and not leaders. You can often clearly see the difference in overall performance of officers who are supervised by a leader vs. a manger. The one supervised by a leader tend to be more disciplined, motivated, and confident in their superiors ability to lead them. The latter groups tend to be the ones who find themselves in problems. Another problem I see is the disconnect between upper command staff and the rank and file. This sentiment was voiced a few times in prior post. The “politics” of law enforcement are not always in tune with what is actually occurring within a department or the community it servers.

      • #7435
        Corban Davis
        Participant

        Brandon,

        Great point about leaders and managers. I have found this to be true in my agency as well. Somebody who is very good at processes gets promoted. When it is time to actually lead in the field, they fall short.

        Corban

    • #7430
      Matthew Self
      Participant

      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.

    • #7434
      Corban Davis
      Participant

      The most common leadership problem in law enforcement is going to vary from department to department. In most agencies there will be a few commonalties. The biggest issue I have seen lately is failure to own mistakes. The leader and the subordinate always find somebody else to blame. The true leaders accept the responsibility of the mistake even if they were not involved in any way. This is not promoted enough in the agency. There is a lot to be said about a leader who accepts the outcome of a situation gone badly. These types of leaders are weeded out in the promotional processes by discipline. Because of this true leaders are placed in a bad situation. Either the leader accepts responsibility and possibly is passed over for promotion, or tries and pass blame so there is not a blemish on his/her record.

    • #7474
      Vincent Upole
      Participant

      The most common leadership problems in law enforcement I see today is the use of social media. This is a broad topic that ranges from officers behaving unprofessionally online to the use of it by the public. While we as leaders can implement polices to help control officer’s actions online and hold them accountable, it’s another problem entirely to have the public posting incidents or live streaming them while we’re trying to resolve them. This ranges from horrific car crashes (people finding out on social media before we can make a notification) to live streaming barricades or incidents of civil disorder. We are tasked with resolving incidents while protecting citizen’s rights to record things happening in public. Not to mention the fact suspects could be watching the broadcast. We can obviously take steps to minimize this by setting up perimeters, media areas, etc but it is nearly impossible to eliminate it totally.

    • #7476
      mmAaron Springer
      Participant

      Good morning Vincent,

      I agree that SM creates issues for LE, especially in the context of response to critical incidents, and information being released/broadcast that could be detrimental to the resolution of the incident. I consider the SM phenomenon not only a leadership challenge, but an opportunity for LE leaders to more quickly, accurately, and transparently connect with the community. The traditional LE response of no comment, or waiting for a traditional press conference or press release is no longer valid in an environment wherein information can be spread instantly. LE leaders should take advantage of those same SM outlets to get information out to the public just as quickly as individual users or the traditional media. This gives LE leaders an opportunity, like I mentioned, to connect more quickly with the community, and ensure the correct information is being released, as opposed to biased or slanted views of LE or the incident.

    • #7478
      Bill Elbert
      Participant

      I feel one of the most common leadership problems is the failure for many supervisors and managers to actually embrace the values they have learned through leadership training. I have seen staff return from leadership courses such as SLI, Command College, or National Academy only to carry on their normal patterns and paradigms while failing to live the leadership values espoused in their courses. Notions such as transparency, inspiring others, consistency, and selflessness are left at the classroom door. Developing leadership skills is a daily journey of trial and error with successes and failures, but those who strive to continue to work on self development on a personal and professional level seem to make the best leaders in my experience. I am at a loss to understand why those who get the most knowledge about such tenets are the same ones who ignore them.

    • #7569
      Shawn Combs
      Participant

      One of the most common leadership problems I see in law enforcement are individuals more worried about themselves than those they are entrusted to lead. Time and time again I see people with the position of a leader making decisions based on what is best for them personally, rather than what is best for the organization or the officers/ deputies. I have seen this in abuse of casual leave, policies that are cherry picked for enforcement, and discipline being issued out. Unfortunately, I have seen more supervisors and administrators motivated by this than true leaders who are motivated for the cause and the people they serve both in the community and their agency. They are the type that are always looking for that next stepping stone to their betterment in the form of a promotion or praise rather than what the right thing to do is.
      Another common leadership problem I see is the lack of trust in the people they are leading. More often than not, this comes from an administrator rather than a first or mid line supervisor. Administrators are typically far removed from the day to day operations; and yet, sometimes still dictate to their supervisors what they believe to be right. In most cases, the supervisor is more in tune to the current industry standards, crime trends, and capabilities of the officers/ deputies, but because the administrator does not fully trust their input, dictates their own solution- right or wrong. I have said for some time, if law enforcement were a business, most would be out of business. This is a big reason why.

    • #7576
      mmChristian Rogers
      Participant

      One of the most common mistakes in leadership is the mindset of “we’ve always done it that way.” Unfortunately in today’s society, Law Enforcement has become the end all be all when it comes to dealing with every problem. Having an antiquated or outdated mindset is not going to solve these problems. Being open to change and discussion can help strengthen our position in the real world. Taking ownership of many of these problems along with better preparation and training can assist as well.

      • #8526
        Nick Godwin
        Participant

        Christian,

        I also can not stand “We’ve always done it that way” as why we are doing “it” a certain way. Maybe there are new techniques and technology that have come along and there is a better way to skin the cat. Then, I wonder maybe the reason we have done it the way we did was because we have tried all kinds of other ways and they simply don’t work. Sometimes tried and true was made due to mistakes, sometimes in blood, already paid. It is definitely a dichotomy that needs to be looked at closely when making decisions that effect a group of people. Taking ownership is a whole issue in and of itself. I believe someone wrote a couple of books on ownership and dichotomy of leadership and probably makes a lot of money off these ideas!

    • #7687
      mmBrian Behrend
      Participant

      The most common leadership problem in law enforcement that I have observed is the lack of true leadership. Often times the individuals that make leadership level positions are individuals who have played the game correctly but never really were cops. They are afraid to back their officers and won’t stand up for what is right. I believe that the culture of the organization makes this acceptable. In the law enforcement community, we don’t do a great job of mentoring future leaders. When I was in the U.S. Army the mentoring of your soldiers was a direct reflection of your leadership ability. I believe that to many leaders in the LE community are afraid that the guy under them might be better then them. We need to do a better job of molding and mentoring our future leaders. To those of us taking this course, I believe it falls on us to make a difference.

    • #7690
      Thomas Carroll
      Participant

      There are many interesting posts here. It’s reassuring to know that we are not dealing with these problems alone. In my region I believe political interference is the root cause of most of our leaderless issues. There appears to be two career paths in LE. One of experience and professional development and the other of social alliances. Unfortunately, politics influences hiring, promotions and discipline that can create friction in the workforce for an entire career.

    • #7724
      Greg Arpin
      Participant

      After reading through the posts, I recognize a few consistent problems with leadership in Law Enforcement. Chief among them being trust and accountability. We don’t always instill trust in our positions, whether it be managing people from behind a desk, or refusing to own up to a mistake. This essentially leads to the next problem which is accountability. We should be more accountable for our failures, to include failing to train others, and failing to lead by example. I can say that so far in this course I have identified points that I have failed along the way, and am recognizing how important it really is to self diagnose and be accountable. Only when we can hold ourselves accountable, will we have the opportunity for trust to follow.

    • #7758
      J.J. Cole
      Participant

      One common problem that occurs is a breakdown in genuine relationships with our people. When it comes to rank…the higher we go the more intentional we have to be in maintaining connections throughout the department or our teams. Bonds are formed on our shifts, on on our teams through shared experiences. We remember those times, but as we take on more responsibility and take on leadership positions, separation is created and our shared experiences with our officers are limited. Its reality. Conversations, support, jumping calls / reports, being the leader and taking the initiative to engage is vital to building trust, creating empathy, and knowing the pulse of our team. Its the little things, small gestures that often mean the most to the people we are responsible for developing.

    • #7777
      mmMike Ligon
      Participant

      Reading through some of the post I will have to agree with just about everyone of the post that I have read. I agree with seeing self serving leadership first hand with supervisors that I work with. Its a shame but unfortunately it happens. One of biggest things that I see is a most common problem in law enforcement today is accountability. I have found that most supervisors starting from the top down do not hold everyone to the same level of accountability. When we do this as supervisors it creates division in the ranks which leads to disgruntled employees. This then creates a snowball effect within the agency because other employees or supervisors are allowed to do things or are not held to the same policies and procedures as other employees or supervisors. It is a slippery slope that affects all agencies today. I feel that if we can somehow get a grip on holding everyone to the same level of accountability, then a lot of the other issues that we have in our agencies may slowly start working out for the better.

    • #7802
      mmDavid Siver
      Participant

      After reading through the posts, I think everyone has hit just about every area where we struggle in our profession. One area or problem I don’t think I saw in the posts is in regards to the Management by wandering around theory. It is mentioned in several books, one that comes to mind is Dr Jack Enter’s “Challenging the Law Enforcement Organization”. Dr Enter addresses many areas where we fail as leaders but the one area that doesn’t cost much Leadership Capitol is the MBWA theory. Imagine is the Chief or Sheriff gases up their own car as opposed to a Fleet worker. That is a missed opportunity to interact with your people.

      Another area that is beyond frustrating for me is as you climb the ranks not being out with your people seldom or at all. I understand everyone is busy, but make it a regular event to hit the street for an hour twice a month. Show up to a call for service with your people. Hit roll calls or line ups the same way. You don’t need to be there everyday as a Commander but I would assume most of the folks on this thread can immediately think of people in your organizations that either are around or are never around! Leadership is a Verb, it’s difficult. It takes daily discipline and hard work. If it was easy everyone at the top or organizations would be rock stars!

      • #8251
        Michael Welch
        Participant

        David,
        you said it best “Leadership is a verb”. That means its an action word. Leaders need to get out of the office and interact with the troops from time to time. Too often leaders get comfortable and forget that the message is better received when the leader sending the message is engaged.

        Good post.

        Mike

    • #7834
      Jason Delbert
      Participant

      After reading everyone’s thoughts I feel everything has been explained well and all of us face the same problems no matter the size or location of our agency. I would like to add from my own experiences at a small rural agency. Power over others is a big issue, we send our administrators to all these leadership and management schools and what I see is when the return the forget everything they are taught and never employ anything learned. We have a set program of training for supervisors when appointed from Sergeants on up. These are the same schools our department heads attended early in their careers but for some reason as they move up “Power” becomes more important. When younger supervisors return from these same schools and try and implement what they have learned they are quickly shut down with the old “I’m the boss just do what I say” statements. We must do better at promoting true leaders and not just promoting high test scores and who has the best relationships in a department.

    • #7836
      Jason Delbert
      Participant

      Sam I could not agree more especially in the tactical world. I have administrators that have never served or understood the role of tactical units. Because of this they make decisions that serve themselves without asking the opinions or advice of those who have served in this capacity for years.

    • #7863
      Tony Ferro
      Participant

      I have experience first hand a few. The biggest one I have experienced that is worth commenting on involved a situation where lack of courage almost collapsed a specialty Unit. When a sergeant took over the unit he had no idea how to run it and relied heavily on a Corporal who had been on the unit for a very long time. Unfortunately, this Corporal was an absolute tyrant. After a short period of time, problems between this Corporal and a officer surfaced. The Sergeant was a first hand witness to unprofessional behavior displayed by the Corporal geared toward the Officer. The Sergeant would not engage and continued to let things fester, even after the Officer requested a one on one meeting with the Sarge about it. Because the Sarge felt he needed the Corporal and his fear of confronting the Corporal, things got a lot worse. A lot of this situation could have been avoided if he had courage.

    • #7914
      Jerrod Olson
      Participant

      After going through module 3 first line/ Mid level Supervisor, I found myself to agree with the fact that communication is key and that thorough follow through needs to be done in order to have successful leadership. In our department, we have had recent leadership changes in upper management and so far communication has been lacking. It doesn’t take long before the whole department starts to share its frustration on not knowing what to do or just general confusion on things. I think communication (to me) appears to be a key factor in leading successfully.

    • #7920
      Jonathan Thum
      Participant

      One of the most common problems is arrogance/ego. Many leaders are afraid to be wrong or admit their mistakes. Often time we learn the most from our mistakes and failure to allow others to learn is well is a missed opportunity. IN addition being able to be open in honest builds trust among those you supervise. Trust is key in both accepting decision and forgiving mistakes. People ultimately follow people not policy or words so trust is key. Another problem is people being promoted in LE because they check boxes or take tests well. Very rarely do we actually test leadership skills as far as performance on the street and in crisis. Tests are often more cognitive rather than results based when testing. A way to ingrain leadership and emotional intelligence into testing would produce more leaders and less managers.

      • #8515
        mmRian Shea
        Participant

        Jonathan, I could not agree more. We, especially those of us from the tactical realm, feel our decision making cannot be matched. After years of experience, we can make our way through critical incidents well enough that our confidence grows to cockiness. For most of us, our tactical teams are a secondary assignment. Therefore, we are looked to function at a high capacity in our primary jobs. From our tactical team, we recently had a member promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant. At Sergeant, he was in a specialty position for many years and away from the patrol function. I serve as a Lieutenant in the same district as him. As a Lieutenant, he supervises one sergeant and ten deputies. Recently, another Lieutenant called him to make him aware of a call his platoon had mishandled. He told the other Lieutenant that the Sergeant was on scene and to take the problem up with them. The Lieutenant was baffled by this new Lieutenant reaction when confronted with a problem on his shift. He simply did not want the problem associated with him since he is a probationary Lieutenant. Get your ego out of the way and take responsibility for what happens in your platoon.

    • #7955
      Nicholas Alamshaw
      Participant

      One of the most common leadership problems I have observed is the lack of transparency from the chain of command. Often times when things come up within an organization at higher levels being held accountable for your actions seems to be something that falls off. When the lower ranks see this and they know from previous incidents that if they would have done the same thing discipline would have been handled differently it destroys morale and the line level employees lose trust in the organization. If transparency and honesty were more prevalent within the organization there would be more trust built within the organization. Employees may not always agree with things but if they are being told the truth and not being deceived it will go a long way.

    • #7987
      Jeremy Story
      Participant

      The biggest problem in my own agency is that there is a lack of communication when decisions are made or change is implemented. Now that I have been a lieutenant for almost two years, I see the day to day workings of both the upper administrations and the line level officers. When a decision is made, the difference between a revolt and acceptance many times is the level of communication from upper administration and the involvement of other personnel in the decision. I have seen this same pattern with other departments we work with. If we could do a better job of just talking to our people and communicating our decisions, I feel it would go a long way to bridge the divide.

      • #8077
        Heath Scott
        Participant

        Jeremy

        this is a great reminder to anyone who is in a leadership position. From time to time I need to be reminded that goals are defined by a clear objective, that is not only communicated well and consistently but one that is understood, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound and based on trust. Communication is the driver for all of these necessary elements.

        Great post

    • #8076
      Heath Scott
      Participant

      The most common leadership problem in law enforcement I have found to be is entitlement – throughout my career, I have experiences complacency, ignorance, apathy, and laziness; these lack of qualities for me define the entitled supervisor or manager. Promoted to serve his or her staff selflessly, these individuals have lost sight of leadership values, such as leading by and through example. At times we all have bad days, but the committed, stable leader is one that challenges there subordinates and provides tools and guidance, they set goals and challenge themselves and persevere with their team. They are leaders that remember God is in the details, nothing is forgotten or left behind.

    • #8085
      Ryan Qualseth
      Participant

      The most common problem I’ve seen in leaders, especially those of many years, is acknowledging what they don’t know, or what they don’t know as well as those below them. Because someone was a street cop twenty years ago, its hard for them to speak on the same level to current experienced street cops without losing credibility. Good leaders need to acknowledge that the people below them may be more informed and have a better grasp of current job specific issues than them. When a person is promoted, and their operational span expands, its important to remember that before changing job specific tasks, they should bring about some consensus through collaborative decision making and receive some “buy in” from staff.

      • #8516
        mmRian Shea
        Participant

        Don’t be afraid to share what you know because there is no use taking it with you. Additionally, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you because they will make you appear smarter. Never stop learning on this job.

    • #8095
      Fletcher Crimbring
      Participant

      I do not think I could pick just one common problem in leadership, as it varies from department to department or division to division. However, if have to lay out two things that I have seen on repeat during my career it would be this. First is a general lack of clear expectations from supervisors. Without clear expectations laid out then how can you expect the folks under your charge to do the right thing or fulfill the job. Second would be a lack of consistency. I often see leaders being more lenient with some over others. Reasons I have seen the inconsistencies include but are not limited to the following: more lenient with senior officers, more lenient with friends or people they have known a long time, lack of knowledge by the supervisor causing different answers at different times, etc. The most common reason for the inconsistency primarily comes back to my first point, there are not any real clear expectations laid out by these leaders, which is the most common issue I have seen.

    • #8122
      mmJR Mahoney
      Participant

      There are many times where we are our own worst enemies. Perception is reality for every citizen we serve. If we are not able to control ourselves and make informed, reasonable decisions then our image will suffer. In the age of video, we are not longer able to hide behind poor decisions and tactics. We need to be more open and honest about our shortcomings and be willing to correct them. We have a lot of good people that deserve the opportunity to succeed. We need leaders in our departments to recognize this and take positive action in order to make people better. Work not to be defensive, but listen, recognize and humbly move forward.

      • This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by mmJR Mahoney.
    • #8203
      Jason Cannon
      Participant

      There does not appear to be any focus on ensuring the leaders have the knowledge or training to effectively manage a critical incident. No ongoing training for supervisors on how to manage a critical incident. Or preparing them if they don’t have the skills. Rank does not equal knowledge, skills or ability. Relying on subject matter experts in a squad can only go so far, as the ultimate responsibility for an incident relies with the supervisor. Many an incident are just allowed to “play themselves out” and there is little or no control exerted by the leaders of the squads. Had a little bit of command and control been exerted to manage an incident then the response by the officers may have gone better.

    • #8227
      David Boisclair
      Participant

      The most common leadership problems could be a book in itself. I believe one of the problems in law enforcement today is understanding and knowing how to bridge the generational gap among our Administrative Branch (usually our senior people) and our boots on the ground, which results in diminished communication. The older generation often believes that people are on a need to know basis, and the younger generation wants to know everything including why certain decisions are being made.

      Another issue I feel can be related to a book I have been reading, “Extreme Ownership.” People want the titles and higher pay that accompany leadership positions, but they don’t want to step up and assume the responsibilities of making a decision and understanding that we all make mistakes. When we do make mistakes we need to own it, no one is perfect.

    • #8250
      Michael Welch
      Participant

      The most common leadership problems are promoting for the wrong reasons and lack of understanding of the position within the chain of command. In my experience I’ve seen too many people promote to get out of their current situation (i.e. they don’t like working the front desk, they don’t like making the county prisoner run, or they don’t like their current supervisor). Promoting should be about wanting to be a leader of men and women, in an effort to improve operations, care for the troops, or have a greater influence within the agency. Too often those who promote for the wrong reasons become overwhelmed with the responsibilities and shut down. They never meet the leadership values needed to become effective. Then they linger around for decades because they don’t do enough wrong to get demoted or fired, but they sure aren’t leading.
      The second problem are those who promote for the right reasons but are not given the tools and expectations of the higher rank. Since nobody has spent time developing them, once promoted they go back to what they know; Sergeants do Officer work, Lieutenant’s do Sergeant work etc. etc. They either do the work themselves or even worse they micromanage the work. It takes years for everyone to figure out what they are supposed to do.
      Leadership training for law enforcement is not a priority in most agencies. Maybe it should be. As John Maxwell says “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. If an agency focused on developing strong, competent leaders, many of their problems would go away. With courses like this, It’s like the NTOA has already figured this out, huh?

    • #8252
      Michael Welch
      Participant

      Michael,
      Yes, Extreme Ownership is what’s needed. We have to figure out a way to instill that in our leaders throughout the department.

      Mike
      p.s. I hope they incorporate that book into these lessons in the future.

    • #8305
      Travis Kreun
      Participant

      Two of the most prevalent problems with leadership in Law Enforcement involve communication and trust. Decentralized command, allowing decisions to be made at the lowest possible level, allows for decision makers to be the closest to the problem and often most able to see a clear solution. It also gives a sense of purpose and power to those in the ranks, which also improves job satisfaction. The need for leaders, or managers I believe we are talking about, to be involved in the minutiae bogs everyone down and leads to a sense of distrust. In order for decentralized command to operate effectively, leadership must trust those they are allowing to make decisions.

      Communication also tends to be an issue, both up the chain of command and down. Many times leaders will brush off concerns that other have because the leader does not see it as an issue. This stalls or kills the upward communication of issues that should be dealt with, issues that the line troops want or need resolved to do their jobs effectively. On the flip side, communication down from the top is often filtered through so many managers that the original intent of the message gets lost, and often ends up in the form of “do this because I said so.” While there is a place for this type of directive leadership, when improperly used it breeds distrust.

    • #8306
      Frank Richards
      Participant

      I believe some of the most common leadership problems have to do with a loss of touch with the rank-and-file, which also results in a snowball effect. Often, when a leadership role is assumed, many priorities shift to the administrative aspects. As a result, less time is spent in the field, which frequently leads to a loss of situational awareness and perspective. This leads to a disconnect, and often, results in decisions are made that directly impact road officers. While the decisions may be made for the intent of the greater good, the adverse consequences can lead to a sense of distrust and create a divide.

      As time progresses, the team aspect breaks down and morale begins to suffer.

      I believe that if leaders remain cognizant of this idea and make a conscious effort to remain in touch, this can be avoided, especially, if the right first-line and mid-level supervisors are in place. When egos are put aside and subordinate leaders have the freedom and ability to bring this to light to superiors, it acts as a check-and-balance for the chain of command. By serving as an azimuth check, it helps leaders keep each other on course.

      While it is understandable to not be able to be at every call and maintain your assigned responsibilities, just having some face time and showing a degree of care can go a long way in maintaining relationships and teams.

    • #8313
      Tate Kindschuh
      Participant

      Accountability is a very real issue with leadership in today’s law enforcement. Over my years as a police officer, I have heard the term “not my guy, not my problem” in several different capacities. One who is in a leadership or supervisory role should hold everyone, including themselves accountable. When you are in a leadership role, it is your responsibility to monitor your subordinates and correct them when necessary. If there is an issue or a mistake and you as a leader knowingly chose to ignore it or hope that someone else will correct it, then you are also part of the problem.

    • #8370
      Joshua Crews
      Participant

      Communication: I have been in law enforcement for 23 years now and throughout my career, I have found that communication errors are the most common problems in law enforcement leadership. Communication is linked to virtually everything a leader does and so many of us are not good at it. This is one of my biggest weaknesses and I consciously work on it constantly. The Bible speaks extensively about the power of our speech and the effects we have on others through our words. This is why it is so important that we are slow to speak and guard our words when we use them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that leaders shouldn’t speak, but that they have to choose their words wisely. It is important that our leaders communicate vision, praise, support, responsibility, accountability, and love for those they serve. Some of my best and worst memories of the best and worst leaders I have worked for stem from communication. If we are going to be successful as leaders, we have to be aware of that fact and know that our words will be remembered by our subordinates.

      • #8513
        mmBuck Rogers
        Keymaster

        Josh, I could not agree more, more conflicts have occurred because of cross-talk or poor communication. One thing I have learned is to listen to understand the person and not to respond. That might take me asking clarifying questions to those speaking to understand what they are actually saying. I find it mostly on my end where the failure of communication ocurrs.

    • #8404
      mmJeremy Hyle
      Participant

      I think one of the biggest problem in leadership in Law Enforcement is leaders being selected in an unprofessional promotional system which turns into having unqualified leaders. If you have a professional and up to date promotion system, true leaders should rise to the top. However, in the good ol’ boy system, no leadership ability need exist, then unqualified people are put in charge of parts of the organization that can lead to major criminal or civil problems.

      • #8653
        Edward Leon
        Participant

        I agree 100%!! Several additional issues occur as a result: unqualified persons in position of authority, lower morale among those that care for the organization, and “performance punishment”. I specifically did not call them leaders, as they are not. Also the “performance punishment”, as I like to call it, is where the competent employee gets additional tasks or work because superiors know it will be done well and with minimal supervision. These are usually the work tasks the unqualified person either can’t perform or or avoids. Eventually, the good employee is so overwhelmed in an attempt to do all the additional jobs (and do them well). This can be stressful and can lead to burnout, as these top performers rarely get the recognition or benefit of the extra workload by those inept supervisors.

    • #8514
      mmRian Shea
      Participant

      One of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is listening. Often times, our members will come to us for advice or counsel. While they are speaking, too often, we interrupt them. This is not done because we don’t want to hear what the member is say, but to ensure we get out what we want to say. Many times, they are just their to vent or share and we, in leadership, always feel like we have to offer our counsel. So listen to your members and when the time is right, you will know when that is, just think back to suspect interviews, join the conversation. One additional comment regarding listening; when a member takes the time to approach and ask for a minute of your time, stop what you are doing, look at them and listen. There are very few things that cannot wait for someone who is directly in front wanting a few minutes of your time. Take the time to listen, engage and converse. Believe me, you will reap the benefits for your respective teams.

    • #8525
      Nick Godwin
      Participant

      Fairness is one of the biggest challenges to leadership in law enforcement. A good leader will be consistent and fair when dealing with subordinates. This is easier said than done. Not every situation, every day is the same. Some situations need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and cannot be handled “by the book.” Personal judgement sometimes needs to be exercised. A good leader should strive to handle similar situations the same way. However, no matter how good of a job the leader does, someone may feel as the were slighted. This leads to lost of trust and the relationship suffers because of the belief of being mistreated. The leader should sit down with the induvial and explain why this situation was handled differently than prior instances because of some extenuating circumstances. Even if the person disagrees with the decision, they may respect being told your thought process and won’t jump to unfounded conclusions.

    • #8528
      Colin Mulacek
      Participant

      I think one of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is the failure to train the next generation of leaders. I think this is due to that old mentality of I learned it you can learn it, as oppose to trying to mentor the next generation of leaders coming up so they don’t have to relearn the same mistakes made before them. I also think that current leadership is threatened by up and coming leaders and they are afraid if they learn too much they will take their spot. When in reality that is what they should be teaching that next generation in order to move an organization forward.

      • #8535
        mmBuck Rogers
        Keymaster

        Colin,

        When current leadership is threatened by up and coming leaders what are some steps we can take to quell their concerns. If we don’t it causes friction in the organization thereby creating disfunction and inefficiency. It’s been my experience this happens in most organizations at some point in one’s career.

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by mmBuck Rogers.
    • #8598
      John Hesseling
      Participant

      With type-A personalities, which I think can serve best as leaders in law enforcement, there is or has been a culture of forcing your will. This can be great when it is a needed change or order, but in most circumstances, there is a give and take. Leadership capital, as it has been termed, does not mean being soft, being unable to make decisions or enforce rules, but knowing when to be firm and when to soften some. I liken this to being a “because I told you so parent.” More often than not, an explanation of why something is done goes a long way to boost morale and gain compliance.

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