What Is Leadership?
Many books, essays, and articles have been dedicated to various leadership theories. Many scholars, journalists, and so-called experts have defined and described it. In the course of obtaining A Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership, I studied the theory, and art, of leadership. I think of true leadership in the simplest terms.
First, I believe it is stepping up when no one else will and doing the right thing no matter the consequences (courage). It is also telling the truth no matter the consequences (integrity). Within law enforcement today, these two traits are disappearing quickly.
As we talk about leadership, who do you think of? Are the qualities you expect in a leader the same as mine? I believe if you just tell the truth, you have nothing to fear. I have heard and seen many folks claim they are truthful, but what you get from them is a version of the facts, colored, controlled, manipulated, and rearranged to suit their needs. The facts are in their version but never in the plain and simple order of an utterly truthful account.
Within our law enforcement communities exist those who simply do not tell the truth. That is not too surprising. Law enforcement agencies hire from the communities they serve. Our society has glorified lying. Just watch a TV commercial nowadays or any number of the “reality TV” shows, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
There is hope, though, as those people can still be found who treasure the truth and honor it above personal gain. A thorough background investigation can determine which of the two groups a prospective cop falls into. But law enforcement agencies must follow procedures that narrow their applicants to the worthy few and steadfastly root out hiring by association or nepotism.
Definition of True Leadership
Authentic leaders also possess courage. If leaders don’t dare to stand up when it counts, you should question their intentions and ability to lead. Many so-called leaders are placed into top positions because of affiliations or because they are non-threatening to those over them. Affiliation promotion and hiring currently plague law enforcement.
Friends promote friends, and qualified candidates labor on in frustration. The result is unqualified placeholders in jobs they did not earn. I have seen this throughout my law enforcement career, but I don’t recall seeing it during my military service. Why? Because in the military, we had an objective selection process that promoted the most qualified individual.
Within our law enforcement communities, we have lost the ability to promote the best person. We all see the results as agencies everywhere are hiring unqualified people who end up making poor decisions.
So what’s the answer? Promote, hire, or elect the best person for the job regardless of your emotions or affiliations. Let your intelligence guide you. Let your research lead you. Don’t take the easy road. Make decisions based on facts, qualifications, and experience. Lastly, educate yourself, have the courage to stand up, and tell the truth.