demands placed on law enforcement in our society today have increased
dramatically over the past few years. Using consumer technology, we are
analyzed from every conceivable angle.
Citizens and our superiors are glued to Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)
statistics to determine if crime is up or down, which, in many instances, can
substantially impact the quality of life in a neighborhood.
responding to the needs of their constituents often use police as a tool to
accomplish tasks we would have never addressed 30 years ago. Societal changes
and needs have forever shaped and will continue to dictate how we police.
tasked with handling this diverse workload become frazzled and impatient. In
their desire to achieve the results of the agency or a superior, they lose
their patience and become irate because the job is taking longer than
anticipated or is not being accomplished due to an ineffective plan. They have
deviated from the path of leadership success and have succumbed to pressure,
which has rendered them ineffective.
I encounter such an atmosphere, I pull the supervisor aside and remind him/her
patience is a virtue. The French proverb, “Rome was not made all in one day,”
applies to the task facing them. If they have lost their patience to deal with
a situation, they have actually lost their ‘team.’ Their team is the men and
women who comprise their squad. Agencies may be housed in buildings, but they
consist of people. It takes a team to solve the problems confronting most
police agencies today, not flow charts or crime maps. Technology can assist,
but it is people who perform.
of the major senior police management issues is developing successful
strategies to combat crime. Leadership from a team perspective is absolutely
crucial for overall success and this is the most difficult area encountered by
mid-level supervisors. Sergeants and lieutenants often do not realize that if
they present the problem at hand to their team, establish the goal to be
achieved, give guidance and direction, and then step back, the final product
will be better than anything they could have possibly imagined. The fear of
letting go by any supervisor is often deep rooted. Time plays a role in this decision-making
is this so difficult? When supervisors step back, they feel they are losing
control, but actually they achieve a stronger position. By allowing the team to
assist with the problem solving, they are empowering them to take charge. By
taking charge, ownership develops and solutions the supervisor may not have
considered rise to the top. Stepping back is not giving up control. In reality,
the reverse occurs!
implement a leadership strategy like this requires patience. The supervisor
cannot get angry if it appears the plan is not developing as fast as he/she
would like. Simple questioning, not micromanaging, can often help shed light on
why there is not an immediate solution. If the team sees the supervisor
supporting them and being patient as they work to achieve the objective, they
often redouble their efforts to succeed. Trust placed in others generates
patience to trust and empower subordinates can be difficult, especially in our
highly charged society. The benefit is remarkable. By empowering the team, you
create a group of problem solvers. By introducing a sustainable program of
problem solving through empowerment, the entire team becomes problem solvers
and handles minor issues, freeing the supervisor to focus on higher
this has been successfully implemented, agencies now operate with increased
effectiveness and morale is high. When developing your Leadership Ops Plan, be
sure to include patience as a key leadership tool. Patience wins every time.
Art Adkins is a lieutenant on the
Gainesville, Fla. Police Department. A 33-year veteran of law enforcement, he
also served on the Ft. Lauderdale PD and the LAPD. Adkins has spent the
majority of his career as a supervisor and is the author and lecturer of
“Leadership Basics: Conquering the Seven
Deadly Sins.” He can be reached at www.theleadershipbasics.com.