We are under assault. Pure and simple, law enforcement is experiencing an upswing of violence against it not seen since the 1970s. Our brothers and sisters are being shot and killed and we must examine everything in our arsenal to turn the tide and keep our people safe from harm and leadership must be at the fore. Leaders and leadership--that's what I'm talking about, not managers (yes--you noticed the disdain when I wrote the word).
According to the book High-Risk Training by Gary Ward the term "leadership" comes from mariners of old:
"A leadership would be sent ahead just over the horizon of the ocean where the mast could still be seen. The job of the leadership was to monitor weather, watch for landfall, and be on the lookout for shoals and enemy fleets. The rest of the armada would watch the mast of the leadership. As it changed course, they too, the followships, would alter course to match the leadership."
"The right to lead must be earned, not at the expense of followers but with their help, input, and expertise. Some may have sailed the waters before, or be excellent at reading the weather and the water (the trends of the future). Most certainly, they should best know the capabilities of their own ships to withstand the course to the future....A followship is gained by being technically competent to plot a course, communicating the mission and the whys, and standing up for the followship."
To lead the way from the front by being tactically and technically proficient, to plot the course and direct followers and to take care of the troops, that is the responsibility of supervision. Whether they take-up that responsibility and execute that mission is what separates leaders from supervisors/managers.
Supervisory Types and Officer Safety
Just like the vast number of personality types in the officer ranks, there are supervisor types, and some are more conducive than others to officer safety and survival. These types can reside in one individual and in terms of the positive types, they should.
- The enabler--From vehicle pursuits, communicating with citizens to use of force, this supervisor will find no fault regardless of the conduct of the troops. Kickin' ass and takin' names is the focus even if it's accomplished by poor or dangerous tactics.
- The control freak--"Don't do anything without clearing it through me." The control freak disapproves of individual decision making and discretion. The result is that they get their wish developing indecisive officers that don't do anything.
- The Micro-Manager--Stand there, do this, do that...the micro-manager is afraid to delegate any responsibility or decision making. Lack of free-thinking, self-sustaining officers is the result who are then unable or incapable of taking care of things on their own.
- Sgt. Schultz--Just like the "Hogan's Hero's" character, "I know nothing. I see nothing." These lazy supervisors and there "don't get involved in anything" comments result in low productivity but also results in officers taking action without letting anyone know.
- The Know-It-All--With a loud comment of "they can't teach me anything" the know-it-all proclaims that they are so perfect in their skills and knowledge base that they can't learn anything. The result is the use of outdated and dangerous tactics and techniques.
- Lt. My Rank Serves Me--The three fundamental roles of leadership are: 1) Take care of the troops, 2) Take care of the troops, and 3) Take care of the troops. But the emphasis in LE today is that the troops exist to take care of the officers and that the only important thing is getting the next promotion.
- Sgt. No Decision--Not making a decision is a decision, but frequently supervisors are paranoid of making a decision (might get sued, don't you know...) that they would rather time pass with nothing being done than proactively doing anything.