These are teaching moments; stop and seize these opportunities. You are there for a reason with this leader, if you are being groomed or in a shadow stage of your career; pay attention. What is important here is for you to listen and comprehend. Also just do not watch at this point but observe from a higher viewpoint, get a 50,000-foot view, see the entire picture.
Another captain that I worked for in my past would lean over and ask you if you knew what he was doing. At first this seemed strange, for if he did not know what he was doing, then who am I to ask about this scenario? In his own way he was asking if I understood the direction that this situation was going in, and what his thought process was. No, he was not messing up, not wanting my corrective thoughts…he was pretty much on target.
The bottom line is that quality leadership is a “SCART.” It is a combination of science and art. Yes, there is a science to leadership. One must understand how an organization/personnel works under pressure. Leadership requires perception in distinguishing how your staff can stand up to challenges, and finds brilliance under extraordinary demands. The art form of leadership is the how and when to say those words that encourage your staff to achieve maximum performance. This to me is an art within itself.
The real leader knows when to speak to get the job done. My old sergeant major told me leadership is “10 percent telling and 90 percent checking.” If you check to see if your staff is tactically and technically trained, then properly equipped to perform the job, then there is only one order you have left to give. The majority of your task is to position them towards their greatest capabilities. That, too, is only one order to perform. Good leaders are trainers and/or training focused. Well-trained staff perform better, safer and more successfully. Training equates to success.
These are but a few insights that I have gleaned from my leaders of the past. It is important to learn from the leaders you’ve had—good or bad. Take your skills, knowledge and abilities and then add some of your own past leadership lessons to the list.
Make the future for law enforcement a bright one; we need great leaders to ensure our future success.
William L. “Bill” Harvey 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. He served as the chief of police of the Lebanon City Police Dept (PA) for over seven years and now is the Chief of Police for the Ephrata Police Dept (PA). He is on the advisory board of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and other professional associations.