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Follow the LEADER

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 104-107
Tracey Gove
Date Published
May 2006
4 pages
This article uses each of the letters in the word "leader" to be the first letter of the first word in six statements about the characteristics and tasks of a police sergeant who is an effective leader.
The first step is to "Lead, with a positive attitude." This means that a leader refrains from complaining while holding realistic expectations and setting attainable goals that are more easily accomplished. A positive attitude inspires confidence and a belief in one's ability to achieve goals. Second, "Ensure open and honest communication." This requires learning and practicing active listening techniques. A leader who listens to and responds to feedback from those he/she manages not only increases team members' sense of power and influence, but also increases the range of options for addressing problems encountered by frontline personnel. Third, "Always support your officers." Absent blatant misconduct, sergeants must initially give their officers the benefit of the doubt when dealing with complaints of misconduct. This does not mean ignoring the problem, but rather ensures an officer that his/her sergeant will be an advocate/supporter in addressing the problem. Fourth, "Devise goals with your officers." This means working with each officer to set goals appropriate for his/her level of experience and expertise, as well as specific working conditions. Fifth, "Express praise early and often." Praise that is personalized and offered immediately following the desired behavior acts as positive reinforcement and increases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. Sixth, "Remain committed to self-improvement." Leaders must recognize their own need for improvement and access appropriate resources for addressing the need. Continual personal assessment, education, and skill-development will upgrade management and leadership performance.


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