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What Are Your Leadership Values?

Walk around just about any police department or business for that matter. There is always some plaque with the words ‘mission statement’ and ‘core values’ of the organization on the wall. I like to ask others do they know what the core values are to them other than words on a plaque. Many really do not answer me but start to ponder. These core values are the organizations and not their personal values. So why should they answer me?


Leadership values

I am sure every one of us has had to participate in the training exercise of the developing a department’s or unit’s core values. Some of these trainings will include pick your favorite leader, historical figure or current world leader. From that you are to describe him/her in your own words as to what leadership trait or value they stood for. My favorite is what historical leaders would you like to have dinner with to discuss leadership. I have yet to figure out how I could talk with Miyamoto Musashi, General George Patton and Thomas Jefferson at the same time or what would I serve for the dinner.


So, here is my question to all of the leadership lecturers out there. Why don’t you ask the obvious question? When you are teaching or motivating young leaders ask them the real question. What are your leadership values? Not the departments, the unit’s or whatever organization it is, your personal ones. The ones that make you what you are…what are they?


Personal values and professional values

There should be a parallel or similarity here. If you are an honest person at work, why would you cheat at golf? Rules are rules. I think at times there are some who believe that what you do at work and how you live are two entirely different worlds. If you agree to this theory, refer to the glass house analogy. The men and women we lead want and desire consistency and so do the family/friends circle members. It goes back to old saying that still holds true…if you talk the talk, you walk the walk. Your staff and others know if you live or walk the values not just talk about them. Life and work go hand in hand; your personal life can predict some at work behaviors. Be careful of sending mixed messages, there are those who watch us. One day you make stringent integrity demands on the employees but later seek a pass when the kid gets a parking ticket.


What are the traits you value most? If I could look into your DNA, what core values are there? I am not going to bore you with my idea of the top ten favorite core values. That is not my job here but rather to promote the inner self inventory of values. After you make your selections, now is time for the test. What did you do today for your staff to live up to this value? Then, what have you done today to live up to this value for your friends or a perfect stranger? In other words, if I interviewed a list of contacts for you in the past week and asked them did you live up to the trait/value of (fill-in the blank) today, would you pass?


The reason for this column was to promote thinking and build our leadership skills to a higher level. In today’s world, we need real leaders and not people with authority and a higher pay grade. One thing I used to ask in leadership training was what three words I could engrave on your tombstone to describe you as a police leader. This is a short cut to your values. How would you like to be known to all for eternity? Go out and live the values for in reality, these are sometimes caught and not taught. I need to add my late father to the dinner list, he taught me the most.

About The Author:

William L. "Bill" Harvey is a native Virginian. He served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He has a BA in criminology from St. Leo University and is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville (103rd AOC). Harvey served for over 23 years with the Savannah (GA) Police Department. He served in field operations, investigations and support services, and completed his career there as the director of training. He has published several articles in professional periodicals and has lectured nationwide. He is serving as a chief of police in central Pennsylvania area; a duty he’s performed for the past nine years. He is on the advisory board of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and other professional associations.