As a law enforcement professional and writer, I spend a lot of time doing research, which these days generally means viewing countless blogs, social media discussion and websites. After doing this for a short time, it became obvious there are several recurring themes which not only repeat themselves regularly, but also result in the most heated (and opinionated) discussion. Near the top of this list is the topic of leaders v. managers. While almost every commenter has an opinion concerning which is best, few have discussed whether or not there is a place for BOTH.
The majority of law enforcement officers are Type A personalities. This means they are looking for leaders, because most great leaders are Type A personalities themselves. The have similar viewpoints and methods of resolving conflict breeds compatibility and trust. These are the commenters who often express displeasure over bosses who focus “too much” on details, reports and statistics or spend “too much time” reviewing options and potential outcomes. Type A officers will often feel that these bosses lack the leadership needed to run a department – and they would be correct to a degree.
These detail oriented supervisors, those who spend their time focused on statistics rather than the end product, are probably Type C personalities and often find themselves at odds with their fellow Type A co-workers. But, while they may not be the best leaders, they make excellent managers. Whether you want to admit it or not, modern law enforcement needs BOTH leaders and managers – they are just needed in different roles with different responsibilities.
Leaders are generally more successful on the front lines, both as the officers doing day to day patrol or manning SWAT teams and the officers who lead them. These are the guys and gals who are expected to get dirty and get the heavy lifting done on a day to day basis. They thrive in ever changing environments, facing the unknown that each new shift brings. But just like the infantry cannot survive in isolation, nor can a modern police department operate without thinkers as well as doers.
The manager is often looked down upon in professions heavily dominated by Type A members. But the Type C manager is the accountant, lab supervisor, budget specialist and even tenacious detective, unwilling to let a case go without all the angles being explored. These are the guys who will make the airtight case for new equipment, ensure that cases are expertly prepared for court or that every dollar is spent wisely. Without them, many leaders would find themselves the victim of their own dislike for details and paperwork. They are the oil which greases the high speed wheels.
While I may not welcome a manager as my new Chief, it is probably good to have one as a Deputy Chief or at least on the Chief’s staff. Likewise, managers make excellent chooses when it comes to technical or specialized positions – especially those which require frequent reviews of mass amounts of data (i.e. managing high tech and high volume camera programs).
So, you see whether you want to admit it or not there is a place for both leaders and managers in modern law enforcement.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.