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4 Crippling Leadership Mistakes

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Oftentimes what is more irritating and stressful to law enforcers than criminals is dealing with the brass and internal agency politics. Thought of as losing touch with the streets and “forgetting where they come from,” the corner office inhabitants of the upper echelons of the law enforcement agency can seem remote and uncaring.

This article is designed to point out, or in some cases simply remind, the bigwig and aspiring corner office-holder alike of common leadership errors that we all can identify within the police department or sheriff’s office. But make no mistake, this is material that can apply to all because everyone is a leader within his or her agency regardless of whether or not fancy gold rank insignia is affixed to the collar or shoulder epaulet. Going even further, these concepts could apply to non-law enforcement organizations as well.

Next Page: Leadership by Non-Example >>>


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    oakley

    over 3 years ago

    1152 Comments

    Great article....Now how does a Training Officer present this to his/her administration without repercussions. Some people accept input while others are threatened by it.

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    Mtarte

    almost 4 years ago

    112 Comments

    A very good article that every chief and aspiring chief, captain, lieutenant and sergeant should read. Patrol officers as well. They are leaders without the bars and stars many times to rookies and citizens. My only disagreement is about the chief dressed for patrol. As someone else already noted, detectives are cops too, but they are in suits and ties (or should be!). chief in a suit never bothered me. It was what was IN that suit that mattered. Had one sheriff who was always absent when controversy arose. Later I had a good chief when I moved to a city PD. He embodied good leadership and was a joy to work for.

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    jfp187

    about 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    I had a mid-sized agency with 107 sworn in a town comprised of 42 square miles. It was my home town, starting out as an explorer and realizing my dream of becoming chief of police. When other chiefs questioned me as to why I wore my uniform, full gear and responded to calls when I was in the area, my reply was simple; the acronym for chief of police is COP. I would simply say, "get out from behind that desk and be one once in a while. You'll be amazed at the response you will get.

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    Sarge2006

    about 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    I think this article is right on. We let our troops select who they wanted to work for at the last shift change. I was not surprised when I was selected by the majority. I attribute that to following the principles in this article. Dont forget where you came from. Always lead by example.

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    Chkyer6

    about 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    I've been with my medium-sized agency for quite some time. I've seen several chiefs come and go and not one of them has been worth their weight in salt. The first one started out fine, and I think it was because he rigidly followed some of the rules spelled out in this article. Later, his personality changed and he took on a dictator style of leadership. Then he lost touch with his ethics and was forced to resign in disgrace. The subsequent chiefs had issues relating to the rules in this article and they have all been ineffective. Our agency has longed for a good leader to run our department but politics always gets in the way. I figure I have about 8 years left in my career and I hope in that time, our city will replace the current chief with one that embodies some of the leadership values in this article. That would be nice.

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    crlittle554

    about 4 years ago

    506 Comments

    I like the last three examples the best. Every officer, regardless of rank, needs to be able to communicate and be ethical, obviously. And, regardless of rank when giving orders or telling someone something (even if it is the suspect you're about to arrest) it's always nice to get voluntary compliance, and even acceptance of what we say.

    My main disagreement is with this concept that in order to lead by example the Chief needs to dress like a patrolman. I don't buy that for all agencies - for the vast majority of agencies, this is fine, as most agencies in the US are very small (a handful of officers, and the Chief can some times even be working patrol with other officers). But, for the larger departments it really doesn't make sense for a chief, or even assistant chief, to be dressed as a patrolman.

    For one thing, detectives are plain clothes. They're still officers. Specialized teams - K9, SRT, etc, wear a more "tactical" uniform typically. And, while I might think all officers should wear their vest at all times (even command staff), as for wearing a full duty belt, the reality of the situation is that in a medium or large sized department the Chief and other command staff are going to spend 98% of their time in the office on the phone, answering e-mails, etc. That other 2% is driving to and from meetings or lunch. I think a "dress" belt appearance (gun, mace, radio, or gun other-less-lethal, radio) still gives an air of professionalism to the uniform, and allows the command staff to look like command staff. There is a clear difference in the functions of command staff and field staff, that's just a simple fact. And, let's not forget that no one is made a chief, asst. chief, or captain right out of academy - it's taken them a lot of time to get that rank, and they've done the patrol bit already. There's no need to spend every day dressed like a patrolman when you're the Big Dog on the lot.

    However, it is important to lead by example, but this really relates more to the ethical issue I think. These all tie in together - example: Don't tell a rookie not to take a discount anywhere (like a restaurant for a meal) when you yourself have done this. For one thing that's not leading by example, and it shows poor communication - the rook is going to ignore you because he will think you're unethical for giving such a contradictory order considering your own past.

    Once again Weinblatt hits AROUND the mark, but I think his own bias is shown in what he thinks makes a good leader (himself apparently).

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    sgtlaflower

    about 4 years ago

    48 Comments

    Great article and right on the money !

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    gaoquinn

    about 4 years ago

    94 Comments

    There are good leaders and their are bad leaders. Bad leadership can constitute unaware bias, hiring the wrong people for the job that institute constant hostility internal and lack of respect. Lack the necessary training that keeps the office going. Not knowing the difference between liability and assets.

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    nrp5hgwedf

    about 4 years ago

    0 Comments

    Leadership and great leaders are made not born to lead. Outstanding article with ethics, and communications being the top factors in success. Thanks!

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    csiguy

    about 4 years ago

    874 Comments

    Leadership by example is the best. Good article!

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    citycop69

    about 4 years ago

    54 Comments

    I wish my sgt would read this.

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    mjl208

    about 4 years ago

    12 Comments

    I agree that leaders should lead by example. I was a leader in a war time situation as an Infantry Officer. I took my turn as first through the door on many occassions. What I wore was not what my men were concerned about. They were ready to follow me to hell if I asked them to because of what I did. I have seen leadership that led by example and leaders that led by mouth. If a person wants to lead then let them lead. If they cannot do the job, then they need to step aside. Leaders who do not keep in mind that they are there to lead those below them and without those below them, there would be nothing to lead do not need to be in that job position. I have also seen great LTs who were not fit to be CPTs or higher. Know your weaknesses and your strenghts and do not try to be more than you are but be everything that you can be.

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    BPD425

    about 4 years ago

    62 Comments

    What an insightful article. I have often thought that if or when I find myslef in andministraive position, I would certainly continue patrolling alongside the troops. As illustrated in the article, it promotes camraderie and respect.

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    charlottedude120

    about 4 years ago

    228 Comments

    WOW WHAT A EYE OPENNOR. I HAVE BEEN IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 19 YEARS NOW AND I AM A LIEUTENANT IN A TRANSIT DIVISION GROWING EVERYDAY. I MUST REMEMBER THAT I MUST KEEP IT REAL WITH THE OFFICERS AND FIRST LINE SUPERVISORS THAT WORK UNDER ME. THIS IS A GREAT MIND JOGGER TO KEEP CHIEFS AND EXECUTIVE STAFF AWAKE. I CAN SEE YOU COULD GET LAZY. LOL I HAVE BEEN IN FIRST LINE SUPERVISION AND EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT FOR FIFTEEN OUT OF MY 19 YEARS. I KNOW THAT I CAN NOT FORGET TO HOLD THE LINE, MAKE ARREST, AND GO TO COURT. IN CHARLOTTE MECKLENBURG WHEN A EXECUITVE MEMEBER OR A SERGEANT LET ALONG COMES TO THE TAKE CENTER, THE STAFF OF THE INTAKE CENTER AND OTHER AGENCYS ,HAS A STRANGE LOOK ON THEIR FACES. I SHALL NEVER FORGET WHERE I COME FROM, BUT THE WHITE SHIRT SAYS I HAVE EARNED IT. HOWEVER PLEASE DON,T WEAR THOSE THINGS AT NIGHT EXECUTIVE STAFF. LATER.

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    togbear

    about 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    Good article. I agree with the principles outlined, but take exception to the uniform as a means of expressing leadership by example. The uniform worn should be tailored to the function of office and that goes for all ranks and assignments. If the chief is in full "patrol" gear, aren't you forgetting your detectives? Are you going to put on the uniform of a motorcycle officer to represent them? If you are going out on patrol, as a chief should from time to time, then by all means you should be fully geared. But really, you think it's not easily understood that you aren't going to be expected to sit in hours long meetings in full patrol gear? Doesn't that in itself end up being a slap in the face to patrol officers that you would tell them they lack the intelligence to understand such a simple concept and explanation? By all means, leadership by example is a sound principle, but there are better examples.

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