Police work is currently undergoing significant change; from the increase in moped enabled crime, to recent anti-terrorism efforts and the continuing rise of knife and gun crime on British streets. All whilst dealing with ever decreasing budgets and an increased pressure from local and national governement.
As part of this evolution and to get the best out of their officers, police leadership styles are adapting to their modern workforce and beginning to move away from an authoritative management style, to an empowerment/transformational approach.
Rather than maintaining the status quo of a rules-based authoritative style where orders and commands are given and punishment follows if they're not obeyed; or a transactional style where rewards are used to motivate individuals but they are afraid to speak up against a senior leader's decisions or vision.
Transformational leadership focuses on the people in an organisation. It aims to inspire, empower and motivate a team. A transformational leader works with their staff, at all levels, to develop a shared for the organisation. They will holistically consider everyone's needs and skills. Their communication skills are often excellent and will generally apply an "open door" policy.
Authoritative and transactional leadership styles have traditionally dominated policing in the UK. However, attitudes are changing and these approaches are slowly losing their appeal in favour of transformational leadership approaches.
However, there is a common misconception that one leadership style is inherently more negative or less effective than the other, but that’s not true. You need different styles for different situations and circumstances. The most important thing is recognising the type of leadership that is required and using it appropriately.
For example, whilst transformational leadership can be effective in many day-to-say scenarios, if your officers are involved in a firearms deployment, you as the leader have to switch to the authoritative role and start commanding. Unfortunately there is often no time to talk through a situation with everyone involved, although this should be paramount once the situation allows it.
Ultimately, the most effective police leaders are able to quickly and accurately assess a situation and respond with the leadership style that is best suited for the given circumstance.
In the 2016 PEEL review into Police leadership, HMIC observed how Wiltshire Police successfully worked closely with members of its workforce at all levels in developing their leadership expectations. It was clear during the inspection that staff were consulted over the design and development of the force’s main values. Since their introduction, the force’s values have been used as the judgment criteria against which all staff are measured during their performance reviews.
With this culture of inclusivity, the leadership style appears very much transformational. Staff recognised the importance of respecting those values and leadership principles, and it was clear that they were an integral part of the force. All staff with whom they spoke with were able to explain their understanding of these values, which meant there was consistency between senior leaders and those dealing directly with the public.
An organisation’s structure can have a great impact on it’s management practices and leadership principles. During the Winsor report published in March 2011, collaboration between forces or “mergers” were actively encouraged. Avon and Somerset Constabulary were the front runners and established the “tri-force collaboration” between Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Wiltshire Police in a number of specialist areas.
This collaboration has resulted in an increase in morale, a greater sense of inclusivity and as more stakeholders are now involved, it has required a change to a more transformational leadership style; where officers are encouraged to put forward ideas to improve their own specialist area and those of their tri-force colleagues.
Wiltshire Police also created a culture where innovation is encouraged at all levels. The workforce feels able to suggest innovative ways of working through a new “flatter” force structure where chief superintendent and chief inspector ranks have been removed. This is something which has been difficult to achieve, but has been received positively by the force and the community that it polices.
The key to a happy and productive team is knowing how to motivate them as a leader. One motivation theory that can help with this is “The Hierarchy of Needs Theory”. This was introduced by psychologist Abraham Maslow through his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. The key of the theory is that an individual’s basic needs must be satisfied before the other higher needs are motivated to achieve.
According to Maslow, there are five levels of the hierarchy:
1) Physiological - It is the lowest level of needs, such as food, water and shelter. These needs are the most basic needs that a person must have to survive.
2) Safety - It included personal and financial security, as well as health and wellbeing. Some common examples are freedom from violence, job security and work safety.
3) Belongingness - It represents the needs for friendship, relationships and family.
4) Esteem - The need for the person to feel confident, and be respected by others. Approval of families and friends, recognition and high status are some examples.
5) Self-Actualisation - This is the highest level within Maslow’s hierarchy and can be described as the desire to achieve as much as you can and become the most you can be. It included achievements in education, religion, personal growth and advancement.
Maslow proposed that it is pointless to attempt to achieve or even be aware of lofty goals such as personal growth when you are dying of starvation or facing the threat of death. The Hierarchy of Needs should always be considered when trying to improve the efficiency and motivation of a workforce
The founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and head of Hospitality at Airbnb, Chip Conley, transformed his business using this theory. He gathered a group of 8 housekeepers and asked “if someone from Mars came down and saw them working as a housekeeper, what would those people call them”. The housekeepers came up with “The Serenity Sisters”, “The Clutter Busters” and “The Peace of Mind Police”.
This exercise let the housekeepers understand their own importance with a thought that they were creating a shelter for a traveller rather than simply cleaning a room. Knowing the value of self, they felt respected and gained the motivation to work harder. As a result, efficiency was greatly improved and a happier workforce was established.
There is no denying that there are many advantages in attaining the highest level of the Hierarchy of Needs. Yet, before enjoying those benefits, it is important to ensure the lower needs are being satisfied. If the workers are enduring unsuitable working conditions, working too many hours (meaning a lack of time to focus on family and friends) or worrying about financial instability; they can hardly realise their own value and will not be working their best for the organisation.
“A stakeholder is a group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation’s objective.” FREEMAN, 1984.
As a leader, Stakeholder engagement is vital and can have a massive impact on an organisation’s project. By definition, stakeholder engagement is about knowing who our stakeholders are, understanding them and knowing how best to involve them in the organisation.
Stakeholder engagement involves taking into consideration the different interests and values that stakeholders have and addressing them. By engaging the right people in the right way, this can make a notable difference to the success of an organisation and it’s reputation.
The benefits of ensuring a robust stakeholder engagement approach for your team are:
• Developing an understanding of stakeholders’ opinions, concerns and best practice can help shape projects. Getting to them early makes it more likely that they will support you as they will feel they have inputted and been involved.
• Joint resources – using their expertise or working in collaboration could see more resources available for your activity.
• Consistent and clear communication should ensure that affected parties will understand the benefits and can be trusted voices or third party endorsers if needed.
• It helps raise the profile of the excellent work that the organisation does and is an opportunity to push key policy areas.
When applying stakeholder engagement to policing, one of the first things to consider is “who are the stakeholders?” These can be either Internal Stakeholders:
• Police Federation
• Equality & Diversity Associations
• Police Officers and Staff Employees
Or External Stakeholders, such as:
• Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
• Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
• Local Authority Chief Executive
• Resident Associations
• The Community being policed
All community members have a stake in the provision of policing services and should have the opportunity to understand and influence them. Voting for a police and crime commissioner is one way in which every person can influence the policing service they receive.
Information and engagement about policing services and how to access and influence them should be designed to reach all members of local communities. It is important to look beyond representative or community groups to ensure engagement reaches seldom-heard community members, so they are involved in decision making and local activity.
Service and policy development decisions about engagement should take into account the nature of the issue and the groups of people who are most likely to be affected. At this level, engagement includes the need to engage ex-offenders in identifying the most effective means of preventing their reoffending through integrated offender management (IOM).
At a neighbourhood level, engagement is often a longer-term process, adapted so that communities can access, influence, intervene and provide answers to local policing problems and solutions.