Moving Home Page Forums Operational Leadership General Leadership Discussions Discuss the Most Common leadership Problems in Law Enforcement.

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    • #4560
    • #5738
      mmDrew Leblanc

      I think the most common problem in law enforcement leadership is the application of self-discovery. Many people believe that what they were taught is the right way to lead everyone else, which we can see that is not true. Understanding your shortcomings as a leader will only prepare you for future success in leadership roles. Not being able to positively identify weaknesses will become a major issue in leading subordinates. Leadership takes being humble and recognize the things that you can improve on every day to be successful. Leadership success is making those you lead successful not the other way around.

    • #6032
      David Allen

      I believe the most common leadership problem in law enforcement is keeping people focused on what they can control and not what they can’t control. Currently, the misdeeds or unethical behavior of one officer impacts the entire law enforcement community and most of the publicity surrounding law enforcement is negative. There is nothing we can do about the media portraying us in a “bad light,” but what we can do is keep our people focused on what they do well everyday when serving their community. If a citizen engages an officer in a negative conversation about something they may have seen on the news about an officer doing something unethical from another state then the officer should use this as an opportunity to show the citizen that maybe that officer was unethical but they are not. They may not listen to us at the time but instead of engaging in a “back and forth,” with the citizen and creating a “us vs. them,” situation we should teach our people to use the opportunity to make a good impression. Because we did not engage in a negative “back and forth conversation” we may leave the citizen with a positive image instead of justifying what they may have thought already about law enforcement. It may not work but it’s worth trying. This positive communication is what I always reinforce to my staff and I always take the opportunity to show them that the “big picture,” of controversial topics so maybe they don’t focus on the negative and worry more about what they can control about situations that may arise in the future.

    • #6350
      mmWayne Griffin

      I think one of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is failure to get input from peers but more importantly subordinates. The younger officers are a great source of information. Some leaders fail to use this valuable asset just because they are not seasoned officers. The younger generation can be great when it comes to the utilization of technology among other things. They also tend to think outside the box. I think when applicable we should definitely get their input on things.

    • #6377
      Anthony Kies

      The most common problem for leadership in law enforcement is the lack of interest by those who have been employed for several years and are supervisors. These supervisors do just that, they supervise. There are several good ones, but the reason there is a leadership problem is because we “as an agency” allow toxic leadership to stay in place at the supervisor level and ruin moral in a department. Failing to act as a Chief or Administrator can cause great moral issues within an department. It ruins respect with subordinates and causes work performance to decline due to poor leadership. We have to be able to be firm and fair if we want to keep high spirits within an organization.

    • #6667
      Jeffrey Brown

      In my opinion the most common leadership problems in law enforcement come from lack of courage. The lack of courage can show itself in many forms. The lack of courage to make decisions and to stand by those decisions. The lack of courage to own mistakes and the mistakes of your subordinates. The lack of courage to take subordinates to task for not meeting standards. The lack of courage to defend subordinates from unfair treatment. Finally the lack of courage to do the right thing even though even though there may be an easier path with less aggravation.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Jeffrey Brown.
    • #7278
      Lance Bolinger

      So I think it is difficult to discuss the most common problems as all agencies have different problems based on their size, the area the police, and other factors. My agency would be classified as a mid-sized agency as we serve a population of roughly 120,000 citizens and have a sworn strength of 173 officers. For our agency, we experience issues with Unity of Command. There are a lot of people outside an officers Chain of Command who are issuing directives and orders to them, and involve themselves in situations that are outside of their lane. This creates problems as there is a need to follow an order given to you by a ranking officer, but where it goes bad is when that order conflicts with a directive set forth by the officers own Chain of Command. This leads to confusion by the officers we supervise, and causes a ripple effect of bad unintended outcomes throughout the department.

    • #7460
      Max Yakovlev

      I think the most common leadership problem in law Enforcement is two fold…not able to make a decision and not taking input from people that do. As supervisors we cannot possible know everything but we SHOULD know how to find the answer in a reasonable time. We are paid to make decision in a stressful environments…our goal should be to relax, look around, and make a call (extreme ownership.) This concept has served me well so far!!!

    • #7677
      mmJacob Taylor

      With all of the extra stressors that come with public relations and media, leadership tends to forget what the true mission is. Service. If we treat each other and subordinates well and take care of each other, the media and public relations issue will fix themselves long term.

    • #7713
      mmChris Eklund

      A huge leadership problem in law enforcement is when people are promoted beyond their capabilities. Often times people look to move into leadership positions without truly understanding what is and can be involved. Every possible problem cannot be solved or expected to be solved because they passed a written exam and interview. Leadership positions are often looked at simply as a pay raise but the responsibilities are often overlooked before people decide to move toward those positions.

    • #7894
      mmJake Stoll

      One problem I commonly see in law enforcement is not regularly promoting true leaders who have demonstrated the potential to lead. We seem to promote those individuals who do well in quantifiable, management style tasks rather than tapping into the more subjective area of those who have demonstrated informal leadership characteristics. This seems to create an inverse relationship where managers are trying to lead the leaders. A second problem is not allowing for a culture of innovation and empowerment. I see administrators promoting and surrounding themselves with like-minded only individuals who try to manage every aspect of an organization, rather than empowering the front-line employees and giving them a sense of ownership.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by mmJake Stoll. Reason: typo
    • #7923
      Jon Thompson

      I think the most common leadership problem seen in our profession in recent years is a lack of moral courage. Whether it is to take time after an OIS to state that an investigation must proceed, rather than immediately hinting that there were violations of law, or simply making a decision and articulating the reasons for that decision and then standing behind the decision, officers need–and want–their leaders to have moral courage, to do the “right thing” in the face of combative members of the public, politicians and media. I don’t think it is realistic to expect that our leaders will “always have our back,” but I do expect that I, as a leader, will gather all of the necessary information before making a decision, rather than bending to the whatever political wind is blowing.

    • #8046
      Adam Bradford

      The ability to lead instead of manage Officers. There are numerous factors that come in to play when discussing this issue. I believe the most important is the way young Officers are developed by their supervisors. Let’s be honest, there are numerous supervisors who should not be, however, they pass a test and they get the position by default. This, in turn, allows poor supervisors “leaders” to develop young, impressionable Officers. These Officers by default lead as they were taught, its a revolving door.

    • #8220
      mmChristian Rogers

      In my opinion, one of the most common leadership problems in Law Enforcement is honesty. This can come in the form of a yearly evaluation where there is an officer on a squad who goes out of there way to avoid work but then receives a positive evaluation from their supervisor because they do not want to affect the officer’s pay or develop a personal improvement plant. Another way that honesty is a problem in the Law Enforcement community is when someone is promoted due to their high school on a written exam/promotional test but they have a reputation of not being a strong leader. Certain people are able to score very high on written exams but this does not necessarily mean that they will become a good supervisor.

    • #8274
      Tony Ferro

      In my opinion, one of the most common leadership problems in Law Enforcement is to be closed-minded. Have an open mindset to new ideas from other agencies. Often times the way your team does things isn’t always the best way. Take the opportunity to learn how other teams operate and if there is a better, safer way of doing things, be open-minded about it. Don’t let personal egos or pride stand in the way of your team creating positive change.

    • #8335
      Jesse Laintz

      Discuss the Most Common Leadership problem in Law Enforcement.
      Again, I am going to go a little different here and go with politics. There are a lot of issue that we face in law enforcement that can be traced back to a root source of a political nature. This is especially true right now with the turmoil approaching an election year. Most of the political issues that arise come from politicians and lawmakers in the state government, and the county officials. These elected officials receive concerns and complaints from their constituents and act upon them. In many cases this is the squeaky wheel getting the grease. The loud minority is being overheard by the silent majority. It’s vital for these officials and law enforcement official communicate and work with one another to obtain the best results for their communities, sadly this is not happening in some places. The state government makes decisions on budget issues that reflect on the local level and impact law enforcement.

    • #8465
      mmBrian Behrend

      I think that one of the most common leadership problems in law enforcement is failure to continuously learn and educate ones self. I see to many leaders that are stuck in their ways and refuse to try a new way of doing things. I have seen and heard leaders say that they are to busy to take that course or read that article or paper. The inability of leaders to be proactive in continuously learning and educating themselves is a huge leadership problem.

    • #8479
      Nick Sprague

      In discussing the most common problem in leadership I have seen a lot of responses regarding managing vs leading, with the latter being what we strive for. I think the overall problem is we often don’t recognize when to flip the switch from one to the other. We strive to be a leader and not a manager but there are times where being a manager is the only solution to the situation and we don’t want to flip the switch for one reason or another. Maybe we don’t want to be perceived as a manager, maybe we have been told at every leadership class we go to that leading is what we strive for, or a myriad of other reasons but it causes hesitation or even failure to change roles.

    • #8509
      Thomas Carroll

      Currently I believe the most common leadership problem in law enforcement to be a lack of trust in our leaders. Officers question the willingness of our elected officials and executive officers to stay objective during times of crisis. Undoubtedly law enforcement leadership across the country is sacrificing law and order for political agendas. We are seeing a growing disconnect between the law enforcement and the public, and law enforcement and its leadership.

    • #8518
      Diana Clevenger

      As with any profession there are common problems in leadership. In Law Enforcement those problems are compounded by stress, crisis, public opinion and politics. One of the failures I see consistenly is the degradation of trust among leaders. Failure to communicate honestly without agenda and without self-occupation causes a disconnect between employees and leadership. Leaders who are collaborative, put team before self, are visible and are to afraid to have difficult conversations gain the trust of those around them. This allows communication to be had when times are challenging and for mutual respect. In some organizations, there are silos of people who work towards their own kingdom building. These leaders are more focused on building a case for themselves for promotion or self actualization and less about the culture. While one person cannot change the over arching challenges in law enforcement, I can impact the group in which I have influence.

    • #8552
      mmShawn Wilson


      When we lose trust in our leaders it has a trickle down effect on every other aspect of the organization; morale, performance, safety, qualified candidates. A leader that loses the trust of his people will ultimately see the decline of the organization.

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