Leadership and Management: Fraternal Twins in Law Enforcement

Leadership and management are concepts regularly used in organizational change and reform literature. This is particularly evident in police settings, and, oftentimes, the two concepts are (mis)understood as interchangeable in training and development programs. Many positions in organizational administration are often referred to as leadership positions; yet, most personnel in these positions are engaged daily in managerial tasks with little to no time to spend on leadership. In law enforcement, the complex role of a police captain, police commander, police chief, or sheriff necessitates an individual who can multitask so as to both serve and coordinate multiple constituencies and, ultimately, balance the role of law enforcement management with the continuing role of a community and public safety leader. This requires knowledge and effective action in both leadership and management.

Policing is a high-pressure job that involves responding to unlawful or unstable human behavior—the great challenge is to recognize that courage is grace under pressure. There is a need for all law enforcement people to be good human beings, effective leaders, and excellent self-managers—and act accordingly at all times while on duty. Organizational values should be respected and operate as guiding forces in one’s public conduct. The authors contend that nobility of service requires constant self-improvement fueled by a passion for learning and being with people. Although law enforcement personnel are pulled in many directions, there may be no more important leadership position for those interested in affecting the future of young officers, as well as promoting community health and safety.