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4 Crippling Leadership Mistakes

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Failure to Communicate

Sometimes, leaders have great ideas sitting in that corner office and they whip up the surrounding staff with the hope and progressiveness of the new initiative. What they hear in the office suite: “Great idea, Chief.” “Wonderful initiative, Major.” “That’ll work wonders, Captain.”

By the time it winds up down in the patrol briefing room, it falls flat. If the corner office executive with a badge were a fly on the wall, what they’d hear is: “I don’t know why the Chief wants us to do this, but here is what we have to do…”

As illustrated by infamous line said by the prison captain (played by the actor Strother Martin) in the Paul Newman classic 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Communication breakdowns are a problem experienced by many leaders.

Like any good instructor, presenter, or speaker, a good leader has to continuously assess his or her audience to figure out if the receivers are picking up on the message being sent. If that tree falls in the woods and no one is hears it, did that tree really fall?

Law enforcement executives need to be able to communicate and that communication has to happen at all levels. Given the law enforcement agency organizational structure and adherence to chain of command, if the first line supervisors haven’t bought in to the concept, the troops sure as heck aren’t going to.

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