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4 Crippling Leadership Mistakes

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Leadership by Non-Example

A few years back when I was a police chief, I had a patrol officer knock on my office door and pose what I thought was an excellent question to have from his vantage point. He wondered why the second in command and I wore our respective full duty belt (including on-duty weapon, OC pepper spray, ASP baton, and two handcuffs) and bulletproof vest, along with the same dark blue shirt that the rest of the agency’s sworn personnel wore. He observed that most chiefs would usually wear a white shirt, only an off-duty style pancake gun holster, and ditch the bulletproof vest.

My reply was along the lines of: “As a sworn officer, we expect you to report for duty with all of your gear ready to handle any calls for service or issues that come your way. How can we expect you to do so if the executive staff can’t or won’t do the same.”

I recall a similar conversation that occurred between a patrol officer and a police chief many years back in another state. That interaction helped to shape my view of leadership and what not to do.

In that case, it was I who was the patrol officer in the dark shirt questioning my chief (who by the way is long since out of the policing field). His practice of non-leadership by example had him wearing a white shirt without a bulletproof vest, duty belt, or even a firearm. All he had was his “Chief” badge and shoulder patches on his white shirt. It was hard for me to respect the man or hear his message as he lead by non-example.

The concept here is simple and permeates across much of what the effective leader does. He or she stumbles badly if leadership is not shown by example. Oftentimes even the valid message from the top is lost because the troops do not even take the time to hear the message. The messenger has sabotaged the message’s delivery by not leading by example. Almost everything in leadership disasters can be linked up with a leadership by non-example philosophy.

As has been proven in wartime situations (and remember, most agencies are run on a paramilitary model), the troops love to follow the general who is armed like them and is physically and mentally with them leading the charge. They are not asked to do anything that the iconic leader wouldn’t do him or herself.

While we certainly do not want to equate service in a law enforcement agency with being in a wartime environment 24 hours a day as an occupying force, policing by its nature and structure engenders some of those comparisons. An effective leader, leads by example.

Next Page: Poor Ethics >>>


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    rypete

    about 4 years ago

    602 Comments

    Two of the four apply to my chief. I'll be printing this out and leaving this on his desk.

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    stevemaynard

    about 4 years ago

    164 Comments

    Outstanding article! It is always good to be reminded of the keys to good leadership. Thank you for this.

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    jcotton

    about 4 years ago

    38 Comments

    I agree completly. I have risen in the ranks over the past 14 years. There is nothing I would ask th eline Officers to do that I wouldn't do. But, I ask that they remember that I can't be at work 24/7 to be available to everyone. I allow my Shift Supervisors to take full rein of their team members. I hate micromanagement.

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    SHARRI8

    about 4 years ago

    106 Comments

    I AGREE WITH THE ARTICLE ......DONT FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM......BUT I THINK FIRST OF ALL WHEN SOMEONE CALLS FOR HELP....LISTEN.....NOT SO MUCH WITH YOUR HEAD BUT WITH YOUR HEART...AFTER ALL REMEMBER YOUR A POLICE OFFICER NOT A JUDGE....ALWAYS INVESTAGATE.....OTHERWISE HOW WILL YOU EVER KNOW THE TRUTH. MANY CRIMES GO ON TODAY BECAUSE NO ONE LISTENED WHILE SOMEONE WAS CALLING FOR HELP........

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    varadarcop

    about 4 years ago

    566 Comments

    My chief wears a full uniform and duty belt, and I like that. Most departments that have had "suit and tie" chiefs are often very UNpopular, as they are seen as bureaucrats and politicians rather than cops who lead an agency. A chief is always in the public eye, and should wear a uniform.

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    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    One of the most annoying things I see from the brass is what I like to call "Orders via Email". We get an email from the brass saying..."from this day forward we shall do this". I am in a small department, 46 guys/gals. It doesn't take much to walk to 200 feet from the front offices to the roll call room and tell us face to face. That would go a LONG way with the troops.

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    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    I worked for a Captain that came in on Christmas night and actually worked a shift and was doing t-stops, jamming people, and got into a foot pursuit. Just so another officer could be at home with his family. He is the best Captain Ive ever worked for.

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    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    Bump to all. I'll agree with Mtarte on the uniform thing, though. The Chief and the other execs are expected to be able to interact with the community, and look like executives, not necessarily like the guys working patrol, the Sergeants, or even the Lt's and Captains. A suit, or shirt and tie, shield clipped to the belt and a paddle holster work fine.

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    kbabcock

    about 4 years ago

    258 Comments

    My department as has a "working" Chief. I am the Sgt which for our PD is 2nd in command. My main focus is Criminal Investiogations but he and I still answer calls for service as from time to time, we are the only ones here if patrol is busy at the jail or on another call. We get out, shag calls, reports, stop cars, write tickets and put people in jail just like our guys do evereyday. I have gotten into pursuits with my Chief. We are a PD of 11 sworn and dont have the luxury of being full-time office dwellers, we still get out in the mix on a regular basis. I have even managed to get complained on myself a time or two so when it comes to dealing with officers, they know they are getting a fair shake since we have been there ourselves, recently.

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    Mtarte

    about 4 years ago

    112 Comments

    Interesting article, but the first one about the command staff always having their gear on and equating it to the general in a battle is lame. Teddy Roosevelt Jr., made the Normandy landings on Utah Beach with a cane and no other weapon however, Patton led the 3rd Army dressed like a field marshal from the Napoleanic wars. I never wanted the command staff to be dressed like my patrol officers. Rather, I wanted them to get in the dirt now and again. In other words, come to work in a suit and tie, but go with the narcs on a raid or ride a shift as a patrol officer and stop by court to see what it is the DAs and defense attorneys are asking their officers these days. Being dressed for the line doesn't mean you're doing the job, it just means you look the part.

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    Oncethere2506

    about 4 years ago

    274 Comments

    The majority of police chiefs today are not leaders. They simply manage people and often not very well. Most of them never did much in their careers other then prepare for promotional exams. In my 20 years on the job I went through 4 chiefs and the last one never made an arrest in his entire career!

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    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    Great article....good LE leaders are a rare thing. When I see them, I am sure to let them know I appreciate their leadership.
    "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way"

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