Role of Leadership in Police Management Police Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Role of Leadership in Police Management

Police organizations have historically emphasized the use of authoritarian types of administration and Machiavellian leadership practices. Even today, many police organizations have behavioral orientations reflective of dominance, individual achievement and masculinity.

However, recent challenges such as developing community-oriented policing and transforming a traditional police culture that typically emphasized operational "efficiencies," to one that promotes team collaboration, innovation, and "effective" processes suggest the need for new leadership patterns within law enforcement agencies.

In all organizations, effective leadership is necessary, as a lack of it can be detrimental to an organization's success. In many cases, organizations faced with bankruptcy have turned their businesses around by replacing ineffective administrations with efficient, dynamic leadership. In addition, military leaders have used various leadership styles to turn ineffective military units into highly effective and motivated teams.

While the importance of good leadership is not a new one, it is one that is largely overlooked by police departments. Many police departments fail to improve dated management practices until a crisis, such as a lawsuit, serious accident, or public pressure, forces them to consider new management procedures. However, this type of crisis management in police organizations has been disruptive and expensive, often threatening the existence of some departments.

According to the Rotman School of Management, in order to protect and serve their communities effectively, police executives must develop leadership and management skills that like those attributes found among today's top businesses executives.

The quality of police services is critical for the competitiveness of (the police department)," said Professor Joseph D'Cruz, Program Director of the Police Leadership Program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto "To attract and retain knowledge workers, (it) must excel in its quality of life. There is no better indicator of this than the relations between the police and the community."

Perhaps one of the reasons that many police departments do not have solid management strategies is that it is hard to measure the effectiveness of police organizations. Unfortunately, a lack of measurable standards often supports ineffective police departments, to survive without much changing. However, these organizations will not be able to function in a productive and effective manner.

This paper discusses how the same leadership principles and skills that have been used to turn inefficient private organizations and military units into flourishing and effective ones can be used to transform police departments into dynamic and successful environments. This paper describes how many ineffective police practices evolved and what must be done to change these management practices. It will also describe various leadership styles and how new policies can be implemented.

Police Leadership Practices

The majority of inefficient police leadership practices that are seen in many departments came from two sources-- the authoritarian military style of management and the management practices used during and after the Industrial Revolution to control factory laborers. Both types of practices are based on an assumption that employees are lazy and unskilled, and need this type of management to perform efficiently.

In addition, unethical political influences and corruption were major factors in the early development of police leadership practices. Basically, a police department was set up with a strong chief executive to combat problems within a police department. Most officers had a low education level so they needed a structure-oriented society. Therefore, in the early days of the police, this system was effective.

However, in today's society, authoritative leadership practices fail to meet the needs and expectations of the modern police force, which is more educated and competent than officer of the past. There is an obvious need for changes in the leadership practices of many police departments.

In many ways, as society has evolved, the work ethics and leadership styles of police officers have changed. In today's police departments, officers are expected to function effectively in a more advanced society. As a result, the education and prestige level of officers has increased significantly. Officers are no longer willing to comply with an autocratic leadership that requires them to follow orders without question.

This dated autocratic style of management does little more in modern police departments than cause poor morale and reduced organizational effectiveness. In addition, it causes a decrease in quality personnel, who seek employment elsewhere because they do not approve of the ineffective, poor leadership.

Changes in Leadership Practices

There are many ways that police leadership practices can improve. However, it is important that officials in the department, from the chief executive to the chain of command, demonstrate a strong commitment to change poor leadership practices and values.

Police department officials play a large role in implementing new leadership practices. They must learn the basic leadership skills, such as patience, understanding, fairness, and judgment, and recognize that leadership is a crucial aspect of successful management. In addition, they must learn to let go of past and dated practices, such as public criticism, tactlessness, and unfairness, which are detrimental to police departments today.

While many police leaders perceive themselves as being tough and authoritative, they must show consideration, caring, and loyalty to their employees. These are the values that produce positive results, including a higher degree of employee motivation and morale, and ultimately, more effective organizations.

Leadership Styles

One of the most important parts of changing police leadership practices is identifying the various leadership styles and their effect on employee performance" Studying leadership styles also helps police leaders to identify their personal styles of management and enhance their management styles.

Basically, there are two main leadership styles-- job-oriented and employee-oriented (Likert, 1961). Job-oriented leaders focus mainly on tasks, relying on the formal power structure and close supervision for task accomplishment. On the other hand, employee-oriented leaders focus on building and maintaining good relations with their employees. These leaders delegate tasks and concentrate on employee growth, rather than acting like an authoritative leader.

It is important to note that neither leadership style is superior to the other. However, the employee-oriented leader typically promotes higher morale in employees, resulting in lower absenteeism and less employee grievances. Employees of job-oriented leaders typically are less productive, as they are closely monitored and not involved in making decisions.

According to Blake and Mouton (1964), there are five more styles of leadership: Task management, country club management, impoverished management, middle of the road management, and team management. The "task management supervisor" concentrates on achieving production goals by planning, directing, and controlling subordinates' work, while the "country club" manager stresses the importance of good employee relations.

The "impoverished manager" tries to maintain organizational membership, while the "middle-of-the-road" manager attempts to maintain both good employee relations and production. Finally, the "team manager" upholds a high degree of production through integration of tasks with subordinate input and decision participation.

Regardless of leadership style, a leader must persuade other people to envision a better future and inspire them to work enthusiastically to bring their visions to reality. Many leaders can persuade others with charisma, but that can result in a shaky foundation for long-term change. Others rely on including key stakeholders in the decision-making process, grounding major decisions in consensus, which can produce major results. The challenge of leadership is communicating what the future should look like and what it will take to get there.

Situational Leadership

While a police leader's basic management style is crucial to the department's success, it is also important for the leader to adjust that style to meet the demands of existing circumstances. This is called situational leadership.

According to Paul Hersey (1984), author of "The Situational Leader," leadership style should be based on the needs of employees. There are four basic styles that can be used to meet these needs: telling, selling, participating, and delegating.

The telling style is highly task-oriented and not very relations-oriented. This style is typically more successful when used with…

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