Chief, what’s your duty — to employees — to community members?
“To be a leader is to be a courageous servant committed to the growth of those whom you are privileged to lead.“
Is there no end to books on leadership! I can’t count the number of books I have read that addressed this important subject.
But if I was to distill everything I have ever read and experienced I would have to simply say (yet so hard to practice) to be a leader is to be a courageous servant committed to the growth of those whom you are privileged to lead.
Jean Vanier (1928-2019) comes to mind. He was a Canadian philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. He knew a lot about leadership. Listen to how he described the duties of a leader.
“The leader is the guardian of unity. He or she must thirst for unity and work for it day and night. For this, the leader must not fear conflict, but rather accept it and strive to be an instrument of reconciliation: the leader must be in contact with all the different elements in the community, and particularly with those who are in pain or who are angry with the community.”
Leaders press for unity, do not avoid conflict, seek reconciliation, and connect with those who are in pain or angry with the organization the leader represents.
Historically, most police leaders do very well in supporting their men and women in the ranks. And yes, that is part of their duty and, I might say, the easy part.
But there is another part of being a leader and it is far more difficult and that is to develop a trusting relationship not only with the rank and file but also with those in the community who have been harmed by police and are angry. Sometimes those two duties conflict.
Leadership is being the cop’s leader, but also the people’s leader in the police department.
What makes leadership difficult is that second and more difficult duty and to have the skills and heart to resolve conflicts between police and citizens when they occur.
Actually, few police leaders seem to be up to it.
However, those leaders who are able to do this are to be honored (and protected).
(To find out a great deal about leading police, search the 1500+ posts on this blog. Use the search engine in the right column using the word “Leadership.” You’ll be pleased!)