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Effective leaders and leadership
in policing: traits, assessment,
development, and expansion

Received 4 December 2009
Revised 29 April 2010
Accepted 21 May 2010

Joseph A. Schafer
Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice,
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA
Purpose – Police leaders and leadership remain understudied within existing criminal justice
scholarship. Using data derived from police supervisors participating in the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) National Academy program, the purpose of this paper is to examine effective
leaders and leadership. Specific consideration is given to the traits and habits of effective and
ineffective leaders, the assessment of leadership efficacy, the development of leaders, and the barriers
to the expansion of more effective leaders and leadership in contemporary policing.
Design/methodology/approach – Surveys were administered to over 1,000 police supervisors.
Respondents ranked the traits and habits of effective and ineffective leaders, methods to evaluate
leadership efficacy, and barriers to the expansion of more effective leaders and leadership. Though a
convenience sample, the supervisors represent a diverse mix of police agencies of various sizes and
types from around the world.
Findings – Ratings suggest respondents saw effective and ineffective leaders as expressing nearly
opposite sets of traits and habits. Efficacy was most strongly linked with integrity, work ethic,
communication, and care for personnel; ineffective leaders were characterized as failing to express
these traits. Respondents cast leadership development as a process best-achieved through a mixture of
training/education, experience, and feedback. Surprisingly, the most highly-rated barriers to the
expansion of effective leaders and leadership practices were not fiscal, but cultural, structural, and
Research limitations/implications – Findings suggest key policy implications for police
organizations and the policing profession. Many highly-rated traits and habits may be linked with
personality traits; this could complicate the capacity of leadership development initiatives to enhance
these behaviors. Results suggest development programs need to do more than simply expose students
to a diverse set of theories and perspectives of leadership; mentoring and guided experience were also
rated as helpful. Major barriers to the expansion of effective leadership were not issues easily or
quickly overcome, complicating the long-term prospects of enhancing the quality of leadership within
Originality/value – Given the paucity of systemic and large-scale studies of police leadership, the
findings offer important parameters to guide future research efforts. Though some results validate
what might be assumed about police leadership, that validation is largely absent from the extant
literature. The results provide a starting basis to guide subsequent research assessing the outcomes,
evaluation, and development of police leaders.
Keywords Leadership development, Policing, Leaders
Paper type Research paper

Policing: An International Journal of
Police Strategies & Management
Vol. 33 No. 4, 2010
pp. 644-663
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/13639511011085060

The author thanks the men and women from National Academy sections 226-229 and 232-235 for
their cooperation and candor. Additional thanks to Dr John Jarvis, the FBI Academy Behavioral
Science Unit and the FBI National Academy Unit for their support of this research effort.

Organizational and individual outcomes are commonly attributed, at least in part, to
leadership or its absence. An examination of instances in which organizations have
experienced some level of “failure” in the form of corruption, misconduct, inefficacy, or
ineptitude can often be partially linked to the level, quality, and style of leadership.
This has been established both within policing (Baker, 2000; Dias and Vaughn, 2006;
Meese and Ortmeier, 2004) and in other government and private organizations (Garrett,
1999; Hall, 1980; O’Hara, 2005; McCabe, 2005). In the context of policing, it is often
presumed leadership shapes organizational efficacy, subordinate behavior, and both
individual and agency outputs. Despite the importance of leadership in shaping police
outcomes it has been contended that effective leaders are often lacking in organizations
(Haberfeld, 2006; Rowe, 2006) and scholars ought to devote more attention to
understanding leaders and leadership.
A robust literature has sought to describe leadership within corporate and military
settings. This has included treatments of the traits of effective leaders, assessing the
efficacy of leaders, developing leadership skills and habits, and expanding quality
leadership practices (Bass, 1990; Bass and Riggio, 2006; Burns, 2003; Kouzes and
Posner, 2002). In contrast, policing scholars have devoted limited empirical attention to
the consideration of how leadership efficacy is manifested, assessed, and developed.
Using data derived from two studies of police supervisors attending the FBI National
Academy program the present study seeks to advance understanding in these areas.
The study examines supervisors’ perceptions of the traits and habits of effective and
ineffective leaders, the assessment of leader efficacy, the development of leadership
skills, and the barriers to the expansion of effective leadership. Results hold important
policy implications for efforts intending to advance the level and quality of leaders and
leadership within police organizations.
Literature review
Despite being a broadly understood notion, leadership is a concept that has defied a
consensus in definition and measurement (House and Podsakoff, 1994). In one of the
penultimate treatments of theory and research on leadership, Bass (1990) observed
there are seemingly as many definitions of leadership as there are scholars
endeavoring to study this concept. Bass articulated common unifying themes across a
wide range of definitions, noting that leadership involves influencing a group or
individual into compliance through the leader’s charisma, power, persuasion, or other
behaviors. In general, such efforts are made with the intent of creating structure and/or
coordinating effort with the ultimate hope of achieving some prescribed goal.
Policing scholarship has given relatively limited empirical consideration to matters
of leadership. Classical perspectives on policing tended to cast leaders as operating
within a narrow range of styles and having tense relationships with subordinates
(Manning, 1997; Reuss-Ianni, 1983; Rowe, 2006; Van Maanen, 1984). More recent
empirical assessments have suggested an alternative characterization by framing
leaders as utilizing a divergent set of styles that go beyond traditional, autocratic
approaches that once dominated policing (Adlam, 2002; Brehm and Gates, 1993;
Brewer et al., 1995; Engel, 2002; Kuykendall, 1977; Kuykendall and Unsinger, 1982;
Sutherland and Reuss-Ianni, 1992) though clear connections between supervisory style
and policing outputs have not been established (Engel, 2001). Survey data from police
officers suggest a preference for supportive and participatory leadership styles

leadership in

Traits and habits Students and scholars of leadership have long sought to characterize those traits and habits that undergird the efforts of those deemed to be particularly effective (Burns. 2005). 1993). trait-based thinking still dominates both leadership scholarship and corporate leadership literature (Collins. Early studies of leadership tended to focus on the “great man/great woman” theory (House and Podsakoff. particularly through the development of behavioral typologies (Brehm and Gates. 1980. Schackleton. 1988). 2006. an approach helpful in establishing typologies of supervisory styles to support quantitative studies. Kouzes and Posner. Tannenbaum and Schmidt. Kets de Vries. 2005. “derailed”. Burns. 2003). 2006)[1]. Though research has not always found clear causal links between a given trait and leadership efficacy (Bass. Engel. 1990.PIJPSM 33.. Over time. 2004). Einarsen et al. 1974. Engel. 1983). 2001). Many studies in this tradition employed limited methodological designs and analytical techniques. 1995). 2002) offers broad categorizations of supervisory styles (e. noting this constricts understanding the realities of leadership. Gardner. often with little or no empirical validation (Collins. and supervision. likely contributing to inconsistent findings (see Bass and Riggio. Domonoske. a body of writings (particularly textbooks) has addressed how general theories of organizations and leadership might be applied within policing contexts (Adlam and Villiers. Kirkpatrick and Locke. 2006. Meese and Ortmeier. 1958. Witte et al. 1990. at least in part. Scholarship considering police leaders has focused on formal supervisors (who may or may not exemplify leadership behaviors) rather than on leaders (who may or may not hold supervisory positions) (Cohen. House and Aditya. Steinheider and Wuestewald. there is risk that categories must be constructed in a broad fashion to support analytical efforts. empirical research has sought to describe how ranked personnel go about engaging in the acts of leadership. as well as the assessment and development of leaders.4 646 ( Jermier and Berkes. 2002. particularly efforts to assess how leadership styles link with outcomes. As a consequence less is understood about the importance of the individual traits and habits upon which categories are based. 1993. 1999. 2002. As with any typology. Extant literature discussing leadership in policing can be generally categorized into two groups. 1991). She and others contend leaders may have limitations. and active). management. and are ineffective. 2003. a well regarded leader was studied in a biographical format to derive an understanding of their success. 1997). 2001. however. 1995). employ less-than-ideal means. while still generally achieving their objectives (Bailey. or exemplify the “dark side” of leadership (Clements and Washbush.g. Zhao et al. Second. 2003). 1990. Kellerman. Pursley. 1990) and tentative evidence supports that police executives might by similarly open-minded in employing non-traditional systems (Hoover and Mader. Those examining . 1994. Maxwell.. Haberfeld.g. Van Maanen. 2008. Engel (2001.. 1979. supportive. traditional. innovative. Kellerman (2004b) critiques the prevailing tendency to frame leadership as a benevolent process. 2004a. In the past two decades leadership scholars have begun to consider leaders from a different perspective by examining those who have failed. 2007. Very little consideration has been given to the specific behaviors (versus operational styles) of leaders. studies expanded this approach to consider samples of recognized leaders (e. 2000. First.

1983. 2001. Allen. Engel and Worden. Engel and Worden. Mastrofski et al. 2002. 1984. Largely absent from this body of scholarship is consideration of poor leadership within policing contexts. Trojanowicz. in part because perspectives on whether a leader and his/her behaviors are effective have a subjective element. formal police leaders (e. 1993. 2007. Swartz and Watkins.. supervisors) are expected to influence subordinates and organizational outcomes (Adlam. Stanton. 2007. 1979. 1984). though inconstant findings abound (see. 2007). 1995. More recent and methodological rigorous findings offer stronger evidence that supervisors influence subordinate personnel (Engel. Assessing efficacy Leadership efficacy is an elusive concept. London et al. Lipsky. Brown. 2001. 1971. Lundman. McCall and Lombardo. The assessment of leadership efficacy is particularly complex in policing given the absence of clearly accepted objectives agencies themselves are expected to achieve. One person’s self-centered egotist is another person’s confident visionary. and measures. 1980. Reiss.b. supervisors. Engel. 1998. 2006) regulated by relatively few standards for structure and operation. Smith. 1971).. Reiss. including discretionary enforcement decisions (Allen and Maxfield. the leader her/himself (Clark and Clark.. 1990. 2000). 2006. 2004a. Developing and expanding effective leadership American policing is dominated by small agencies (three-quarters of agencies employ fewer than 25 sworn officers. Nonetheless. 1994. 2004. 1968). 1990). contributing to the chaotic.. Smith. 2007. Schackleton. supervisory style and influence have been demonstrated along a number of traditional policing outcomes. What other metrics might be used and who should provide input on the performance of a given leader. 1983). Brehm and Gates. methods. 2003. 1983. peers. 2005). 2003. Across policing and other occupational contexts researchers have used a variety of definitions. Huberts et al. 1993. Brehm and Gates. contradictory. London et al. 2002. Far less is known about the measurement of leadership efficacy beyond considerations of officer performance. Finkelstein. Kellerman. This ambiguity complicates the ability to link leadership efficacy with organizational outcomes or outputs. 2007). Wilson. 1983. In assessing efficacy. 2002. the assessment of leadership efficacy is a methodologically and conceptually difficult process (Clark and Clark. 1994. 1983. and officer misconduct (Bittner. Brown. 2002.g.ineffective leadership contend recognizing and discussing failures and limitations will help make leaders more effective. 2000. Such consideration has focused on the leadership and personal shortcomings of corporate executives (Einarsen et al. In addition. Other training demands and mandates may dominate agency training resources Effective leadership in policing 647 . Engel. 1977. Mastrofski et al.. 2003) and government officeholders (Barras.. Allen and Maxfield. 1988. Van Maanen. the use of force (Engel. constituents. see Hickman and Reaves. 1980) despite geographic and temporal separation (Brown. 2003). Engel. 1990)? As indicated in corporate leadership efficacy writings these efforts can be challenging as expanding our conception and measurement of whether a leader is effective invokes a number of methodological difficulties (Maxwell. 1988. McCauley. and inconsistent findings (Bass. and conduct. 2003)[2]. Muir. Most agencies have little or no formalized protocols to develop current or future leaders (Anderson et al. Howard. 2000. 1982. output. 1988. followers.

Given the anecdotal lamentations of the lack of effective leaders and leadership behaviors within policing (Haberfeld. but scant validation these ideals actually develop better leaders[4]. Though resource limitations are likely candidates restricting the expansion of effective leadership additional restrictive factors might shape this situation. followers. Whether and how leadership can be developed (either among front-line personnel and/or among existing supervisors and leaders) remains an open empirical question. and leadership failures (see Newton. tradition. money. 2006. Where evidence of efficacious private sector leadership development has been found. programs tend to marry training. Bass and Riggio. particularly among policing scholars. 1997. leadership. First. Formal and ad hoc leadership development initiatives have been criticized for emphasizing competencies over competence and emphasizing leadership behaviors to manage circumstances that are simple and stable (Bass and Riggio.. 2006. Perceived barriers limiting the expansion of effective leadership practices represent another area that has garnered limited empirical inquiry. as well as the barriers to the expansion of effective leaders and leadership. Though numerous arguments can be crafted in support of leadership development. 1994). n. Time. finding a positive change in “leadership areas” based on pre/post scores on the California Personality Inventory. More systematic evidence of the efficacy of development efforts is sorely needed. Mumford and Manley. Rowe. 2003). and application. organizations may also experience barriers to effective leadership in the form of organization and workforce culture.PIJPSM 33. and access to quality education and mentorship all fall within the resource limitations police agencies might confront. 2006). 2002). Research questions This study seeks to address several questions related with leadership traits. Miller et al. what are the dominant traits and habits perceived to be associated with effective and ineffective leadership? Second. the best way to succeed in that process is unclear within existing research (House and Aditya. These results represent a lone finding using a single metric in a single program. The field of leadership development is left with a set of noble ideas. 2003. what indicates serve as the best evidence to assess a leader’s efficacy? Third.4 648 and employee development efforts. House and Podsakoff. Both models use the aforementioned approach of exposing participants to the dominant theories of leaders. particularly given the small scale of most American police agencies (Hickman and Reaves.)[3]. and organizations. what common approaches contribute to the development of . either in general or within policing contexts. These questions are asked in the context of policing and answers are based on the experiences and perceptions of mid-career supervisors. Day and O’Connor. 2006) it might be presumed expansion could suffer some degree of constraint. 1990.d. employee attitudes trust. In addition. assessment. Popular police leadership development efforts include the “every officer is a leader” orientation (Anderson et al. (2009) offer a rare exception. developing both technical competencies and an awareness of the humanistic dimensions of leaders and followers (Bass. education. and development. 2006). 2006) and the “West Point” model (International Association of Chiefs of Police. Despite the popularity of such development initiatives there is an absence of clear and compelling evidence that leadership efficacy can be enhanced or developed.

Effective leadership in policing 649 . Strauss. Methodology The study considers the characteristics. 1999. 1990. The survey items were derived from an earlier project also conducted in the NA (Schafer. NA participants enroll in a schedule of classes taught by FBI personnel. though favoritism and nepotism likely influence how some agencies assign this opportunity. Rather than being asked to provide qualitative descriptions of these key dimensions. Those open-ended results were systematically reviewed and coded to identify dominant themes (see Lee. In addition. traits and habits of ineffective leaders. Bass and Riggio. training. 2003. Findings are based on surveys completed by police supervisors attending the FBI National Academy (NA) in Quantico. officers in sessions 232 through 235 were asked to review the lists of dominant themes and identify (in ranked order) the five most important elements (i. Participation was voluntary. earning credit through the University of Virginia. using a Likert-based response set participants were asked to assess the utility of common methods to that might be used to develop leaders. and barrier to the expansion of effective leadership in policing). what barriers prevent the expansion of more effective leadership practices? Salient policy implications are also addressed. 2009) in which participants completed open-ended survey questions concerning the traits and habits of effective leaders and additional aspects of the leadership process in policing. Day and O’Connor. to rank the 1st through 5th trait or habit that contribute to leadership efficacy)[5]. This process advances beyond general descriptions of leadership dimensions by seeking to determine which elements are most salient along each dimension of leadership.e. Virginia. The FBI allocates a seat to a particular agency. which ultimately identifies the officer who will fill that seat and attend the program. and mentoring tools advocated in both general (Bass. The list of included items represented a cross-section of the common later-stages of their career. NA seats are supposed to be assigned to officers who are of significant importance to their agency and who are likely to play a future leadership role in that agency or some other law enforcement setting. assessment. Respondents did not report any personal identifies and disclosed only limited experiential data. 2006. NA participants are almost exclusively in supervisory position and agencies are supposed to attest participants will remain employed for at least three years upon returning to their agency. During sessions 232 through 235 (calendar year 2008) surveys were administered to NA attendees on the first day of each session. and development of effective police leaders and leadership using a consensus approach. That ideal is generally brought to life. officers were provided written informed consent details and signed a waiver if they assented to participate. This process yielded 10-12 common responses provided in narrative characterizations of dimensions of police leadership (traits and habits of effective leaders. 1987). the results reported in this analysis rank the traits and habits identified as being most important to leadership efficacy based on a consensus approach. Rather than describing the traits and habits of effective leaders. The NA operates four ten-week sessions each year.leadership skills? Finally. The NA is a career development experience targeting upwardly mobile police supervisors in the mid. metrics to assess leadership efficacy. The ten-week residential experience is analogous to a supervisor taking a sabbatical from their job to attend college for a quarter.

4 26.8 19. Because the majority of participants are supervisors and are among the elite in their employee agency.1 21. 1.3 years of police experience (range 0-43 years of service) and 9.071 (97.7 54.6 19. The sample also Education (n ¼ 958) Agency type (n ¼ 998) Agency size (n ¼ 999) Table I.8 14. 2006. 2006)[7]. Across the four sessions included in this project. n.2 Notes: Frequencies do not sum to 1. as a convenience sample it is still of interest and relevance in considering elements of police leadership. Though based on a convenience sample the data provide unique insight into a cross-section of American law enforcement with a richness of diversity and experiences that would be difficult and expensive to obtain through more systematic sampling approaches. Nearly one-quarter (23.8 12.5 18.3 17. Findings The average project participants reported 19. Nearly all had some college education. with two-thirds reporting completion at or beyond the bachelor’s level and nearly one-quarter reporting a graduate or law degree (see Table I). agency type and agency size High School/GED Some college Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree Some graduate/law work Graduate/law degree Municipal/city County State Federal Other 0-50 51-100 101-250 251-1000 1001+ Frequency Percentage 36 182 91 296 116 237 545 198 146 65 44 263 178 161 215 182 3. the average duration was 7. both in their personal experiences and within the context of their employing agency. they represent a sample which has likely given considerable attention to leadership and its development.e.1 years in the armed forces (range 0-36 years).5 30. While the data might render questionable an explanatory analysis. The participants reported a relatively high degree of education. As such.) leadership development literature.6 6. of those. 2003) and police-specific (Anderson et al.8 16. while over-representing state agencies (Hickman and Reaves. Though the NA is not a random sample of either police officers or police supervisors. Valid percentages are reported .. special jurisdiction) agencies.1 24.7 percent) reported having prior military service.7 years of supervisory experience (range 0-28 years)[6]. descriptive consideration of themes and trends remain viable.042 due to missing cases. The majority of respondents (91.4 percent) were American.3 percent) NA attendees completed all or part of the survey.d. The sample under-represents municipal and other (i.0 9. IACP.4 650 Mumford and Manley.PIJPSM 33. the respondents represent a sample with a robust history of general and supervisory experiences in policing.5 4.042 of the 1. Respondent education.

5 7.6 5.4 8.0 1. communication.5 8. Ineffective Honesty and integrity Caring for needs of employees Strong communication skills Strong work ethic Approachable and willing to listen Taking responsibility Making sound decisions Fairness Competence to perform duties Flexibility and innovation Knowledge of work environment Ability to delegate 1st (%) 2nd (%) 3rd (%) 4th (%) 5th (%) % ranking in top five 37. The later skew is likely a function of the difficulty smaller agencies have releasing personnel for ten weeks to attend the NA.1 percent ranked it as the second most important characteristic and overall two-thirds (69.0 6.3 13.8 22.0 2.2 1.3 3.1 8. Top five characteristics contributing to police leader efficacy . respondents ranked the top five characteristics they believed contributed the most to a leader being effective.9 11. the table reports the percentage of respondents ranking that item as the first through fifth most important trait or habit.5 39.6 6.4 36.0 8. The rankings of ineffective leadership characteristics were dominated by three main attributes: ineffective communication.2 9.7 7.5 8.e. 37.1 7.3 11. Other characteristics lagged behind these elements in prevalence among the top five attributes.7 4.9 10.3 9. less agreement is apparent in ranking the overall importance of the other 11 characteristics.0 3.0 10. competency.1 7.6 3.8 9.5 percent of respondents ranked honesty and integrity as the most important characteristics of an effective leader.0 5.1 11. decision making.1 9.1 4.5 9. For example. Respondents repeated the same process for 12 characteristics be associated with ineffective leaders.6 16. Effective leadership in policing 651 Traits and habits of effective and ineffective leaders Respondents were asked to consider 12 common traits and habits that might characterize effective leaders. The far right column in the table reports the percentage of respondents who included the characteristic within their top five.7 3.8 11.9 6.5 4.under-represents small agencies.0 6.6 42.7 69. For each of the 12 characteristics. From this list.6 4.6 5.4 2.6 50.7 0.0 32.8 9.0 8.9 7. The items most frequently observed among the top five characteristics appear more closely tied to personality and interpersonal skills (caring. Though honesty and integrity was clearly viewed as the most important characteristic in leadership efficacy. perhaps making it less likely they would petition the FBI for a place in the NA.9 11. neglecting the needs of workers. work ethic) versus more technical aspects (i.1 7. This process provides a greater understanding of the perceived relative importance of the common themes in shaping a leader’s efficacy or lack thereof.2 9.0 11.8 53.7 11. nationally over 85 percent of agencies employ 50 or fewer sworn officers.8 19.0 4. Smaller agencies do not have the same capacity to “back-fill” a supervisor’s responsibilities for such a long period of time.2 8.7 8.5 9.6 6.4 Table II.9 40. and knowledge). and questionable ethics or integrity as reported in Table III. Another 11.3 4.9 43.8 percent) of respondents included it within their top five.9 7. Table II presents the rankings of the traits and habits associated with effective leadership.2 11.4 8.7 6.

6 20.2 leadership was generally the “other side of the coin” relative to effective leaders.4 46.3 5.5 10.2 72.5 5.8 8.1 8.5 12.4 7.4 12.1 0.3 9.3 5.6 2.5 0.5 26.1 21.0 7.4 64.9 7.5 6.5 35.8 33. The distinction between effective and ineffective leaders seems more a function of how they do their job versus the mechanical aspects of their performance.6 11.7 9.3 1.4 8.6 6.1 62.5 17.9 11.0 27.2 10.1 percent) and whether Table IV.1 percent of respondents and rated most important by 25.0 0.9 6.8 4.2 15. Table IV provides the outcome of that ranking process.3 62.2 67.8 15.1 4.4 19. The items ranked more highly in this processes were split between what might be considered the technical and the interpersonal outcomes of leadership.6 7.5 32.9 3.0 6.2 8.2 5.8 15.1 2.4 9.9 10.0 7.2 9.2 65.8 12.3 60.4 2.4 17.6 7.1 15.0 6.2 23.0 11.1 69.9 15.5 0.6 35. what appeared to matter most in making a leader ineffective is not what they do (or fail do).7 27.3 10.4 32.9 4. The majority of respondents included evidence of technical accomplishments such as the leader achieving key goals (ranked in the top five by 72.3 10.2 40. In other words.5 8.6 3. their personal integrity.2 7.3 5. but rather how they perform their duties.0 22.3 7.8 11.9 12. and their interpersonal relationships. Assessing leadership efficacy Respondents were asked to rank the five most important pieces of evidence (out of ten) that might be used to assessing a leader’s efficacy.5 4.0 8.2 2.5 13.4 2.1 17.9 3.8 7.4 652 Table III.1 33.1 2.5 6.2 7.7 7.1 5.0 . Top five characteristics contributing to police leader inefficacy Ineffective communication Neglects needs of workers Questionable ethics and integrity Poor work ethic Inability to delegate Failure to act Unwillingness to change Belief they know everything Poor comprehension of job Unwillingness to compromise Inability to accept criticism Lack of focus 1st (%) 2nd (%) 3rd (%) 4th (%) 5th (%) % ranking in top five 15. goals.2 19.3 6.7 1.1 11.7 2.6 9.8 0.0 7.6 12. Paralleling the effective leadership list (Table II) the dominant elements are aligned with a leader’s personality and interpersonal relations with peers and subordinates over technical competencies of supervision. Top five indicators to assess leader efficacy Achieves key tasks.5 9.8 9.6 6.1 10.8 5.5 16.0 35.7 0.7 4.6 3. mission Growth or development of subordinates Subordinates have positive morale Subordinates achieve desired goals Positive standing within agency Productivity of unit Positive standing within community Low complaints against subordinates Operates within budget Low complaints against leader 1st (%) 2nd (%) 3rd (%) 4th (%) 5th (%) % ranking in top five 25.7 9.2 6.3 13.5 5.3 7.9 13.3 13.2 3.PIJPSM 33.9 8.8 7.2 1.1 6.1 7.2 3.

7 1.” Feedback was highly ranked not only for current supervisors.1 0. 2009).0 35. Schafer.1 7. respondents did not see budgets or the lack of qualified personnel as the major restrictions on such an expansion.3 4. including the growth and development of subordinates.0 0.9 38. Rowe.7 8.9 12. for each strategy more than three-quarters of respondents rated the approach as at least “a little helpful.7 0.6 55. 2006.0 49.0 15.2 Table V. with at least half of respondents rating these strategies as “very helpful” or “helpful.2 50.” Training and feedback were highly regarded approaches.8 3.4 32.3 4.subordinates achieved their goals (ranked in the top five by 65.1 0. Respondents ranked the top five constraints (from a list of 11 items) impeding the expansion of effective leadership practices (Table VI). education.5 47.1 2. positive subordinate morale.2 55. mentoring. Surprisingly.2 47. networking. and incorporating leadership practices from other fields were well regarded.3 4.1 49.5 17. At the same time. In general respondents perceived some utility in all of the common elements associated with police leadership development.1 47.7 0. with more than half of respondents assessing those strategies as “very helpful” and nearly all respondents assessing them as at least “helpful. Leadership experiences.8 42. The development of effective leadership Respondents evaluated whether common leadership development strategies were likely to be helpful to someone participating in a police leadership development program (Table V). 2006. primacy was also placed on items reflecting the interpersonal dynamics of the workplace.0 12.5 24.6 42.6 21. but also to support the development of officers who might eventually achieve supervisory positions. Feedback to support officer development Feedback to support supervisor development Training programs Providing experience in leadership Education programs Mentor programs Networking with leaders from other agencies Leadership practices from other fields Books & reports on leadership in policing Books & reports on leadership in other fields Academic journals & textbooks in policing Academic journals & textbooks in other fields Very helpful Helpful A little helpful Not at all helpful 58. reports and journal articles) were rated as being less helpful.6 32.8 51.2 44. Effective leadership in policing 653 Perceived constraints on the expansion of effective leadership Extant literature provided anecdotal or unattributed suggestions that police agencies face a shortage of effective leadership and/or a dearth of effective leaders when they make promotion decisions (Haberfeld.7 33.3 2.3 percent). though all were ranked “a little helpful” by around half of the respondents.9 49.1 0. Results lend support for blended and holistic approaches to assessing and evaluating leader efficacy within police organizations.0 21.1 58. and the leader having positive standing in the agency.2 55.6 4. Assessment of common leadership development strategies .4 15.5 36.” The remaining items (books.1 0.9 1.

Understanding the characteristics of effective and ineffective leaders serves as an important starting point in the process.4 6. and ego. Top five constraints on the expansion of effective leadership practices Resistance to change Politics Inadequate leadership development system Failure to provide true leadership Standards & selection Ego Lack of qualified personnel Lack funds for training Absence of leadership development system Influence of labor orgs Lack of available training 1st (%) 2nd (%) 3rd (%) 4th (%) 5th (%) % ranking in top five 18.2 2. Maxwell. particularly given the primacy placed on those attributes in the ratings of effective leaders.5 2. these two groupings help define the end state developmental efforts need to pursue.9 11.1 12. The highly ranked characteristics on both lists tend to mirror one another.3 9.3 7. the profession must also overcome perceived resistance.4 4. these data are derived from supervisors who work in agencies that vary in size. Kellerman.8 1. Ineffective leaders had questionable character.8 4.5 6.0 49. as perhaps should be expected. politics.2 7.0 6.8 1.1 10. compassion.4 6. 2003.8 8. and failed to communicate.6 8.2 33. 2001.4 2. displayed a poor work ethic.3 7.8 7.2 4.6 8.PIJPSM 33.1 6. worked hard.6 Rather. 2002) and outside (Bass.4 7.2 28.3 7.4 654 Table VI. Effective leaders had strong character. both within (Engel.6 13. 1986. the existing absence of leadership. and failure to provide true leadership) and structures (ineffective leadership development systems and inferior standards and selections) that dominate American policing. neglected the needs of workers. 2002.3 10. It is understandable that ineffective leaders were characterized as suffering from questionable ethics and integrity. 2005) of policing contexts.7 10. communication. .5 12.8 7.1 44.7 8. This validation lends further credence to the belief that effective police leadership is about character.7 10.5 35. This represents a mixed outcome for the expansion of effective leadership.0 5.. the dominant constraints related with the culture (resistance to change. Collins.2 6. and were successful communicators.0 11.7 38. cared for their employees.8 1.5 8.6 5.1 16. 1990. Burns.8 5. and mandate. and work ethic. Lord et al.7 68. 2001.9 6. various anecdotal evidence reported in this study and by other scholars suggest circumstances might still be improved. Where prior studies have largely been restricted to no more than a handful of agencies. These lists validate much of the extant literature on effective and ineffective leaders.8 16.7 9.8 41. suggesting policing must do more than modify resource streams and protocols. 2004a.2 7.6 12.3 9.6 7. This validation is important because unlike most prior research it is derived from a diverse convenience sample of officers representing a broad cross section of police organizations.3 47. Kouzes and Posner.5 4. jurisdiction.5 6.9 8.9 8.4 3. Discussion The development of effective leaders and leadership practices are persistent problems in policing.0 5.5 9.7 4. Though examples abound describing departments and supervisors that excel in this regard.

“inbox” exercises). It is common for agencies to use a mixture of classroom learning. might be enhancing integrity. Prospective leaders would be given a foundation of classroom training and education. It is common for agencies to base promotional assessments on past performance evaluations (which might be heavily oriented toward task performance and technical competence) and tests of procedural knowledge (i. The mutability or permanence of personality remains a widely debated matter within psychology research (see Costa and McCrae. New supervisors are taught the tasks and procedures associated with their job with far less. fairness. from strengths into weaknesses (Table III). This strategy assumes that such transformation are possible. and other professional publications). as well as anecdotal accounts (e. Leadership development efforts can enterprise to enhance awareness of the importance of these issues. Through informal discussions with NA participants. practices rudimentary applications of that knowledge in controlled scenarios. if any. practical exercises. and guided applications when developing new employees through pre-service and field training. and lack of compassion for employees. 2003) and there is disagreement whether such changes can be achieved outside of clinical treatment (Piedmont.e. These results create a curious situation in the context of policing. 2008. 2006. or mentor new supervisors. whether those characteristics (which seem closely tied to personality) are easily developed in a given direction. the anecdotal evidence would suggest the prevailing practices in American policing focus on ensuring supervisors have procedural competency. Roberts and Mroczek. though there is evidence suggesting many of the highly rated characteristics of effective leaders might not be as amenable to leadership development efforts.g. educate. Developmental initiatives for new (or prospective) supervisors also tend to have a slant toward technical and task-specific information. Some agencies may also include an assessment of leadership and decision making skills in mock situations (i. caring. In other words. 2001). work ethic. but police supervisors participating in this project perceived that behavioral aspects of leadership were more important in shaping (in)efficacy. In discussing leadership development the respondents seemed to be advocating for modifying conventional pre-service police training models. Police Chief.In considering the results it might be concluded that developing more effective leaders could be achieved by working to convert the dominant elements such as poor ethics. Systematic data is not readily available on how agencies evaluate candidates and train. Srivastava et al. and flexibility. Results reported in Table V portray an analogous vision of police leadership development. would be given the Effective leadership in policing 655 . and mentored by seasoned veterans. It is less clear. The duality of the highly ranked characteristics in Tables II-III might suggest that converting a handful of characteristics from weaknesses into strengths would enhance the efficacy of a leader or potential leader.. critiqued.e. Developmental programs can endeavor to improve communication skills and provide the technical knowledge that is partially related to making sound decisions and performing duties in a competent manner. any number of articles printed in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. The rookie officer is exposed to a set of classroom knowledge and professional lore. and then works with experienced officers to further develop their skills in the “real world” while being monitored. 1994. More challenging. a tentative understanding of leadership selection and development can be derived. however. attention given to the interpersonal dynamics that might be associated with being an effective leader. poor communication. mastery of policies and procedures).

though an agency might not offer a formal leadership development program. were supposed to be key or up-and-coming actors in their agency. a good leader (recognizing the need to develop the leaders of tomorrow) will encourage front-line personnel to read and attend elective leadership training. obstacle. such modifications are unlikely to materialize. Whether a more systematized model would yield favorable outcomes remains unresolved in current policing scholarship. 2005. the data offer guidance for subsequent research efforts that might seek to systematically study these aspects of leadership using more representative samples. Culture. investigations. valid arguments can be constructed to be skeptical that such training will yield desired outcomes (see . politics. 1991. In addition. From the standpoint of practitioners there are several challenges associated with developing and expanding effective leadership. The barriers respondents identified characterized the major barriers as being cultural (resistance to change and politics) and structural (the absence of effective leadership development systems). external initiatives could overcome that barrier. The present research does not attempt to empirically link the extent to which leaders reflect those characteristics and their subsequent leadership outcomes. Implications Findings from this study present key implications for both police practitioners and scholars. or administrative matters to provide leadership experience. Presumably. the characteristics of effective and ineffective leaders are based on a consensus model of perceptions. structure. for the most part. What the data do capture are experiences and perceptions. but informal discussions with NA participants suggest it is an informal practice in many agencies and by many current leaders. rather than an objective evaluation of how traits might translate into specific outcomes.PIJPSM 33.. that leader might also allow officers to take charge of critical incidents. or leadership development tool. respondents expressed the development of leadership was impeded by the current absence of leadership. The trailing significance of fiscal resources represents a challenge for efforts to enhance leadership within the policing profession. jurisdictions. the generalizability of the findings is unclear. the experiences and perspectives of front-line personnel might differ. and missions. Sherman et al. Nonetheless. habit. to see a need to change current practices requires a leader and leadership initiative. Respondents were supervisors and. Though the sample is rich and diverse in representing agencies of differing sizes. Though budgetary limitations are often presumed to be a key barrier to expansion and development efforts. though the use of training programs is often the immediate response to any policing problem.4 656 chance to practice their leadership skills. In addition. but not a systematic evaluation of any particular trait. O’Hara. If money were the key limitation. many other obstacles received higher rankings from respondents. 1973). It must be conceded that these study findings are based on a convenience sample of police leaders. In other words. Such an approach would certainly require the investment of resources and effort on the part of an agency. and would be given feedback to enhance application of knowledge and skills. if those in control of an agency do not have the vision and will to modify leadership development approaches. Where possible. and inertia might be more difficult to overcome. First. In considering the barriers to the expansion of effective leaders and leadership it is perhaps unsurprising the list of factors tends to mirror common barriers to change in policing (see Guyot.

and time. 1993. Kuykendall. Second. the profession is not confronted with a chicken-and-egg debate. it is confronted with a situation where both (current leaders and prospects for developing future leaders) are absent. much work remains to be done to better understand the role of leadership and its development within contemporary policing. or COPS) or a targeted intervention (i. Notes 1. is an open empirical question.Buerger. When the greatest barriers include resistance to change. pp. Though recognizing the value of leadership is relatively simply. 3.e. The “other” option was Effective leadership in policing 657 . Brewer et al. Third.e. 1982). audiences. their relative significance and magnitude have not been conclusively evaluated. pp. they must be assessed with a consideration of the cultural. Engel (2001. structural. a program mirroring LEEA. and missing research evidence on a range of leadership development efforts may be found in the writings of Bass (1990.. 2. rather. negative. but it is unclear whether such a model can be executed in a manner that is both cost effective and ensures requisite consistency and continuity in the experiences of participants. respondents were able to also identify and rank up to five “other” elements in the event the existing response options did not reflect their beliefs and experiences. And if such development efforts are pursued on a large scale. 1977. Expanding quality leadership will require more than an infusion of funds through either a national effort (i. Informative summaries of positive. For scholars of leadership and/or policing. 1994. This was done to allow for the possibility of error in creating thematic lists. Studies have often tended to compartmentalize supervisors into a single leadership style. these base materials were modified into a 700 page volume and a variety of state and local training initiatives. and lack of leadership. politics. including whether they require separate approaches. 2003. 341-344) provides a helpful review of how public sector theories and concepts have been applied to policing samples and contexts. LEEP. 2008. and other barriers within which initiatives are implemented. the area of police leadership remains ripe for further empirical inquiry. 5. Though traits and habits of effective and ineffective leaders can be identified. Despite important findings from this and other recent studies. it is unclear whether such efforts will be any more fruitful than traditional police training. 807-856) as well as Ruderman et al. Through consultation with officers from across the country. multi-dimensional approaches that mirror a field training model might provide a more robust experience. that money trails other considerations as a barrier to expanding effective leaders and leadership is a significant obstacle for the policing profession. neutral. 1998). The IACP program was derived from materials developed by retired Brigadier General Howard Prince II for use at the United States Military Academy at West Point.. 4. The variation seen across studies may partially be produced by the variation a supervisor’s style might exhibit across contexts. as a result of a consent decree). its exact role in shaping policing outcomes remains more presumed than proven. Ideas abound for how leaders can be developed and how the skills of current leaders can be enhanced. Kuykendall and Unsinger. overlooking the actual style a leader employs might vary based on perceived situation exigencies (Brehm and Gates. In each case. NY. Though respondents seemed to support a multi-dimensional approach to leadership development. Densten. Hersey et al. (1990). How to accomplish those outcomes.

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Sage. 161-89.. Sage. Schafer is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. citizen perceptions of police. The National Academies Press. L.. (Ed. (Eds). pp. His research focuses on policing. N. in Brodeur.. Thousand Oaks. J. 89-112. leadership. Schafer can be contacted at: jschafer@siu.K.K.D. W. pp.emeraldinsight. DC. CLAJ and DBASSE (2004). and Frone. E. (1998).edu To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. Handbook of Work Stress. Sivanathan. organizational change. K. and Frydl.R.Further reading Kelloway. About the author Joseph A. Kelloway. Washington. (2005). in Barling. and Barling. J. How to Recognize Good Policing: Problems and Issues. Mastrofski.). “Poor leadership”. CA. Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence. M. and futures research in policing. E. Francis. J. “Community policing and police organizational structure”.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. edited by Skogan. National Research Council.. Thousand Oaks. CA. Joseph A. communities and Effective leadership in policing 663 . S.

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