Leadership is a critical component of such law enforcement agency as police. To make an efficient police leaders, the chiefs of police departments need to possess a wide scope of requisite traits like honesty, integrity, impartiality, flexibility, approachability, knowledge, and other features. Depending on personality attributes, senior police officials may adopt a wide range of leadership modes like transformation, transactional, mixed, active, role-modelling, situational, participative, passive, avoidant, and laissez-faire styles. Beyond that, police leaders are supposed to pursue a number of arch-important activities like the creation of a shared vision that produces the sense of purpose for subordinates, the cultivation of organizational commitment, the demonstration of care for officers in subordination, the driving of changes, and an active involvement in problem solving. The scientific project gives a detailed insight into the definitions of police leadership, key activities undertaken by senior officials, traits, and management styles they adopt.
Keywords: police, leadership, style, effective, law, enforcement, trait
Who Are Police Leaders
Gaines and Worrall (2012) claimed that police chiefs were leaders respected and recognized in their respective communities. Residents may perceive law enforcement leaders as the ones who lead the forces protecting them. The chiefs of police are thought of as people endued with the ability and knowledge that allow them to handle the issues faced by the citizens. Police department members perceive chiefs as individuals who stand proxy to them in government by acting in the best interests of department while fighting for resources. The chief of police is also accountable for establishing the direction by setting organizational objectives. Gray (2005) stated that police executives running smaller departments needed to be generalists in organizational management and police work, with their regular duties combining those of executives, first-line supervisors, middle managers, and line officers. Isenberg (2010) suggested that police leaders were the ones, whose success depends on the development of the relationship with their communities and the establishment of a vision that produces a transparent mission to match the needs of both the community and the department.
What differentiates strong police leaders from their weaker counterparts is self-direction. The relationship with others and learning form their understanding. The effect mentors, peers, and other individuals have of senior police officials contribute to the development of inimitable leadership styles. Oliver (2013) noted that residents expect police chiefs to manage a wide scope of technical, managerial, social, and criminal problems with respect to the administration and operation of a law enforcement agency. Community members expect them to do so on the strength of the pledge of office, special confidence and trust related to their position and legal mandates. The chief of police is a government position appointed by a governing body like police commission or an administrative executive like city manager. A legislative body may approve the selection of candidates. The chief of police if the chief executive officer of a law enforcement agency (Oliver, 2013).
Activities Police Leaders Undertake
Pearson-Goff and Herrington (2013) conducted an extensive review of existing literature and noted that police leaders pursued five major activities. Firstly, the produced a shared vision for the law enforcement department, which generates the sense of purpose for subordinates who follow it. Secondly, they cultivate organizational commitment by supporting officers in their subordination, fostering collaboration, providing feedback, and giving their officers a voice in the process of decision-making. Thirdly, efficient police chiefs showed care for their staff, which requires taking responsibility for the wellbeing of officers, finding and providing development opportunities for subordinates, and involving in mentoring and coaching. Fourthly, police leaders face the need of managing and driving changes. To this end, the chiefs of police need to achieve and enact changes or reforms rather than manage and maintain the status quo, or the existing state of affairs. Grass-roots officers gave less weight to the achievement and enactment of changes, relying more on leaders who preserved the status quo. Fifthly, the chiefs of police need to be actively involved in problem solving that should be collaborative and proactive. Problem solving helps tackle inter-dependent, complex, and unforeseen issues (Pearson-Goff and Herrington, 2013).
Police Leadership Styles
All of the traits considered in the preceding chapter are accountable for specific leadership styles, whether efficient or not. Campbell and Kodz (2011) provided a summary of reviewed studies on police leadership styles. The first category is transformational leaders who look to inspire, establish a vision, appeal to the moral values of officers, and to stimulate their subordinates from an intellectual perspective. The main intention is for chiefs to allow officers fulfilling their potential, which enhances their efficiency as managers, in officers’ estimation. Such managers can have a positive effect on the willingness of officers to abide by guidelines and spend extra efforts and the organizational commitment of inferiors.
The second category is transactional leaders who are reliant on punishment and rewards as well as the so-called management-by-exception. While employing this managerial mode, police chiefs take measures in case there is digression from service delivery and expected behavioral patterns instead of utilizing transformational behaviors, which may have fewer positive effects on officers in subordination. In specific circumstances, the transactional behaviors may have positive effects. Thus, for example, officers may treat their chiefs with respect if this leadership styles helps address unsatisfactory performance and standards. Grass-roots officers rather than their higher-ranking colleagues may prefer objective-oriented leaders, role-classification is more appreciable when missions are regarded as unpredictable, less self-motivated subordinates inclined towards external supervision and direction may demonstrate preference for transactional leadership behavioral patterns.
As far as mixed style leadership is concerned, there are no proofs that police chiefs combining transactional and transformational behaviors can be more efficient than their counterparts who are reliant on the transformational leadership style. Role-modelling and active leadership is another management style. Active law enforcement leaders who are out in the field tend to utilize role-modelling strategies and set an example to follow, which may influence the behavior of subordinates in a positive way, the ethical culture of officers’ force and integrity included. Leaders who adopt this management style influence their inferiors’ behavior effectively, unlike their transformational colleagues relying on interventions, such as mentoring, and inspirational motivation (Campbell and Kodz, 2011).
Campbell and Kodz (2011) suggested that senior police officials who used situational leadership pattern alter their behaviors so that they will fit the context, including the role and rank of inferiors and the years of experience, which makes them highly efficient in their position. Top police officials who embrace participative leadership promote their employees’ participation in decision making, which positively influences the organizational commitment and job satisfaction of subordinates. The chiefs of police may sometimes utilize laissez-faire, avoidant and passive leadership style. Officers perceive those practicing inactive leadership as being ineffective in their role. Evidence points to grass-roots officers’ being reluctant to spend extra efforts; still, their higher-ranking colleagues may demonstrate a greater degree of willingness. An interesting finding suggests emotional intelligence may be a useful leadership approach since it is the capacity of perceiving, evaluating, and managing other people’s emotions, yet this leadership approach no longer contributes to efficiency when coupled with narcissism (Campbell and Kodz, 2011).
Positive and Negative Traits Possessed by Police Chiefs
Oliver (2013) noted that the study of personality traits as elements of leadership efficiency were the benchmarks of leadership potential. The so-called Big Five traits or factors of personality incorporate conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Thus, for example, police executives with such dominant feature as neuroticism may show nervousness and sensitivity, as opposed to confidence and security, those with openness may display curiosity and inventiveness, as compared with cautiousness and consistency, and chiefs with the dominant trait of agreeableness demonstrate compassion and friendliness, as distinct from coldness and unkindness. Senior officers with the prevalent trait of extraversion display energy and sociability, as opposed to reserve and solitariness while police chiefs with the dominant feature of conscientiousness demonstrate organization and efficiency, as compared with carelessness (Oliver, 2013).
According to Oliver (2013), conscientiousness is the trait composed of two principal aspects. The first facet is dependability that includes thoroughness, responsibility, and dutifulness while the second facet is achievement that reflects the capacity of meeting challenges and working hard. Costa and McCrae (1992) suggested that very conscientious police chiefs had the habit of carefully weighing pros and cons before taking actions and abiding by responsibilities and moral duties (as cited in Oliver, 2013). House (1996) claimed that such senior officers were achievement-oriented (as cited in Oliver, 2013). The consistent articulation of conscientiousness of police top executives becomes manifest through their commitment to the production of distinguished results. In law enforcement trade, officers who climb their executive ladder gaining top leadership position are result-oriented, that is, they reach organizational objectives compliant with the mission (Oliver, 2013).
Emotional stability is opposite to neuroticism that comprises anxiety, stressfulness, instability, and impulsivity. Hogan, Curphy and Hogan (1994) noted that there was little possibility of neurotic police chiefs’ being considered leaders (as cited in Oliver, 2013). Moodiness, anxiety, stress, and depression all are characteristic of all neurotic senior officers. Law enforcement chiefs notable for their emotionally stable individuality demonstrate a small degree of excitability and impulsivity and prove effective in the process of decision-making (Oliver, 2013). Costa and McCrae (1992) stated that emotionally stable police leaders are much more likely to create a controlled and stable working environment than neurotic counterparts are (as cited in Oliver, 2013).
This is not all there is to traits possessed by police leaders. The Founder and Director of RapidBI Mike Morrison (2009) produced the list of fifteen top positive and negative traits possessed by senior police officials. Thus, exemplary chiefs need to put no favoritism on display, which is giving separate subordinates preferential treatment at the expense of their coworkers. They ought to be cautious with evaluations like reviews and feedbacks. Knowledge is an integral part of their competence or qualification, with job skills and the knowledge of procedure, policy, and expectations being the central part of it (Morrison, 2009). It is through experience or study that officers must acquire their competence and knowledge that are prerequisite to the efficient performance of their duties (James and Vardalis, 2010). Speaking of problem solving, police top leaders must act rightly and make swift, tough, and good decisions, people standing behind them (Morrison, 2009).
Genuine top leaders need to spend a minimum of 5 to 10 years serving on the streets, gradually making their way to the office of the chief of police. Senior officials ought to cultivate officers’ growth and facilitate their professional and personal development. Leaders must be trustworthy, believing in officers in subordination to them. No top law enforcement officials will make a good leader, without earning respect, much less treating their inferiors respectfully. Beyond that, all senior police officials, bar none, need to be approachable, flexible, consistent, and honest. Important is also for them to show common sense and integrity. As far as communication is concerned, good interpersonal skills, efficiency, openness, and the knowledge of when to speak are arch-essential (Morrison, 2009).
However, Mike Morrison is not the only to consider communication the important trait of senior police officers. Chief of office (n.d.) suggested that the chief of police must be able to interact with coworkers, the staff, commercial and residential community segments, municipal dignitaries and other private and public agencies. The development and coordination of citizens’ efforts through community programs is a positive trait that speaks volumes for the efficiency of leaders in their position. Baker (2011) noted that the development of community programs like Neighborhood Watch and the maintenance of community participation were a genuine challenge for police leaders. Just as the previous expert insisted on the importance of police chiefs’ being able to make tough and quick decisions, so too did Chief of office (n.d.), suggesting one of the best traits is to make timely, difficult, and occasionally unpopular decisions. What law enforcement chiefs also need is to listen, lend support to suggestions submitted by their subordinates, and implement them if applicable. Commitment to the development and training of officers in subordination and the understanding the importance of ensuring risk management via the improvement of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the staff police officers are also important. Police chiefs must be experienced in motivating people by their own example, fostering the high standards of performance, integrity, honesty, and productivity among their subordinates. Such trait as impartiality and fairness in the treatment of both employees and citizens is close to the no favoritism principle.
Besides that, it is important that the chief of police be a team player cooperating closely with the city authorities. Senior police officials need to be secure and self-confident in giving professional opinions and recommendations to police commissions, city administrators and elected authority figures. They need to do so in a diplomatic and outspoken manner, remaining committed to implementing policy decisions effectively, fairly, and swiftly (Chief of office, n.d.). James and Vardalis (2010) noted that police officers needed to interact with all agencies with legal authorization as well as their representatives to establish justice. Agency may be among multiple organizations that provide law enforcement within a jurisdiction. Assistance to colleagues with consideration and respect are requisite (James and Vardalis, 2010). While such positive trait as cooperation an interaction applies directly to officers, their chiefs also need to establish a tight liaison with other law enforcement agencies and act in concert. According to Chief of office (n.d.), senior police officials must act as anticipatory managers looking for solutions to issues before they assume a grave shape. It goes without saying that the chiefs of police are to keep high visibility with their community and subordinates. In other words, what they need to do is get out of the office to communicate and interact with people, whether in the field or in workplace.
Ideally, senior officials are the ones to be active in their respective communities in the capacity of visible city officials who participate actively in community and civic events and activities. Approachability and a good sense of humor are central to establishing tight connections with community members (Chief of office, n.d.). One should not forget that exemplary off-duty demeanor is a highly positive trait for police officers, whether chiefs of their subordinates, inasmuch as law enforcers act as role models for community members. James and Vardalis (2010) suggested that police officers should behave in a way that will discredit neither them nor departments they work at, which means their off-duty conduct must be irreproachable, which strengthens the respect of community, in which they serve.
As for negative traits, according to Morrison (2009), such come in the shape of micromanagement, whereby senior police officials control officers’ every move. Favoritism or giving friends preferences is taboo. Selfishness is another negative feature that applies to self-centeredness, self-promotion, and self-service. There should be no second-guessing on the part of senior police management. Besides indecisiveness, top officers may demonstrate inconsistency by shifting priorities as they wish. Knowledge may appear to be a negative trait when leaders pretend never to be wrong, knowing literally everything. It is a negative feature for leaders to be emotional by making decisions. Sometimes they may be unable to solve problems adequately. Hypocrisy, vindictiveness, poor communication abilities, dishonesty, responsibility avoidance, and inexperience are all negative traits separate police chiefs tend to possess.
Negative leadership becomes manifest through discipline, as leaders may apply heavy-handed approaches and name-calling, fail to recognize deserving subordinates, show concern with a group vs. individual approach, selectivity, or choosing separate officers as the most skillful, and double standards, which are rules or principles unfairly applied to two different individuals. Poor leaders may have such a negative trait as close-mindedness applicable to whoever is not open to initiatives and suggestions (Morrison, 2009). As may be seen from above, traits from the list only partially reproduce those cited in the preceding paragraphs. For the most part, they complement the overall list of features all senior law enforcers need to have.
Police chiefs are individuals recognized and respected in their communities. Since they manage law enforcement agencies, residents expect senior police officials to protect them through professional abilities and knowledge. As per one of multiple definitions of police leaders, community residents expect police chiefs to manage a wide range of technical, managerial, social, and criminal issues with respect to the administration and operation of a law enforcement agency. The chief of police is a government position appointed by a governing body or an administrative executive and usually approved by a legislative body. While in office, senior police officials pursue five principal activities, such as the creation of a shared vision that produces the sense of purpose for subordinates, the cultivation of organizational commitment, the demonstration of care for officers in subordination, the driving of changes, and an active involvement in problem solving.
Police officers can employ numerous leadership styles depending on traits they possess. The main management modes are transformation, transactional, mixed, active, role-modelling, situational, participative, passive, avoidant, and laissez-faire styles. Emotional intelligence is said to be an important leadership approach that allows perceiving, evaluating, and managing the emotions of subordinates, which adds to the efficiency of police executives. Speaking of attributes possessed by police leaders, the so-called Big Five traits of personality incorporate conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Neuroticism makes police chiefs sensitive and nervous, openness makes them inventive and curious, agreeableness is accountable for friendliness and compassion. Senior police officials with the prevalent trait of extraversion demonstrate energy and sociability while conscientious police chiefs are known for organization and efficiency. Overall, top officers may possess such positive attributes as fairness, impartiality, the lack of favoritism, honesty, communication, consistency, an efficient decision-making, approachability, flexibility, support, integrity, and respect. Negative traits may include favoritism, micromanagement, selfishness, indecisiveness, inconsistency, vindictiveness, hypocrisy, dishonesty, inexperience, irresponsibility, and other features. Overall, police officers need to pursue a variety of activities, possess a wide range of traits and employ various management styles in order to make efficient leaders.
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