Are You a 21st Century Leader?

How to Be a Great Leader

The graphic below is how we visualize influences of values and skill-building on our ability to be 21st century police leaders; men and women who can build trust and support among those whom we serve.



There are four areas of our emotional life that help us become more fully-functioning human persons:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to understand yourself and your behaviors; having self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor; to monitor your emotional state and to correctly identify and name your feelings/emotions.
  • Self-management: the ability to stay cool and manage stress; to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting.
  • Empathy: the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people; to build and retain talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to others.
  • Relationship skills: the ability to manage relationships and build networks, to find common ground and build rapport; to be effective in leading change, persuasiveness, and building and leading teams.
  • Internal motivation: A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status; to pursue goals with energy and persistence.

Unlike your I.Q., how smart you may be, your Emotional Intelligence can be raised and improved with your desire to learn and grow.[1]


  • Voice (the perception of citizens that their side of the story has been heard);
  • Respect (the perception that police have treated them with dignity and respect);
  • Neutrality (the perception that the decision-making process used by police is unbiased and trustworthy);
  • Understanding (citizens comprehend the process of how decisions concerning them have been made); and
  • Helpfulness (the perception that police are interested in their personal situation and will help them to the extent that the law allows).[2]


You will find the idea and concept of continuous improvement to be ever-present in this workbook. It is not only being part of an organization that pursues the ideal that whatever we do can be improved and when errors are made, we can systematically go about improving the systems in which we work so that errors do not continue to be made.

Continuous improvement should not only be an organizational practice but a personal one as well. Leaders grow people; and people who are leaders must themselves engage in life-long learning and personal growth. To stay in place, to be the same person you were a few years ago is to fall behind. That’s why leaders read, ask for help, go to seminars, and advance their education both tactically and through further academic education.


The effective police leader not only develops the necessary skills to be an effective police officer, he or she must also be able to practice what we call the “New Leadership” which is the primary orientation of this workbook. That means rejecting the traditional “top-down,” coercive style of the old leadership. It means being a good listener, practicing procedural justice internally as well as externally to the community, working closely with those whom you are privileged to lead and, literally, “walking your talk.” Moreover, today’s leader must be able to understand how work systems operate and can be improved through organizational change. We believe the New Leadership is best described in what we identify in this workbook as “Quality Leadership.”

The chapters that follow will help you think through your calling as a police leader: This chapter will address personal values and the historical values inherent and necessary in policing a constitutional free society. In Chapter Two you will be introduced to the work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and his system for improving quality – whether it be in manufacturing or service organizations such as police. Chapter Three looks at the important role of teamwork; teaming within the police department and teaming with citizens while doing Community-Oriented Policing. In Chapter Four, we look at role of data, numbers, and being able to answer the quintessential questions that will most likely follow any improvement claim: “How do you know? Where are your data?” Chapter Five addresses the importance skills of being leader today and how to practice the “New Leadership.” Finally, Chapter Six will look at what we know about organizational transformation; how difficult it is, how long it takes, and how one police department tracked a decade-long transformational effort change and improve its leaders and Community-Oriented Policing.




A member of a police agency in a democracy:

  1. Is honest, trustworthy, and courageous.
  2. Respects people and their diversity.
  3. Obeys the law and protects the Bill of Rights.
  4. Is physically and mentally fit.
  5. Views citizens as customers.
  6. Delivers high quality service.
  7. Is community oriented.
  8. Works to identify and resolve community problems.
  9. Is courteous and an active listener.
  10. Is a leader and team player.
  11. Demonstrates control in the use of force.
  12. Continuously improves throughout his/her career.

FROM The Quality Leadership Workbook, Couper and Lobitz, 2017.


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