POLICE Magazine

SEP 2017

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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26 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2017 "lucky day" taking the test. Still several agen- cies cling to the age of seniority-based pro- motions. e issue I have with this is that just sitting in a garage for 20 years doesn't mean you will become a master mechanic nor turn into a Buick. In other words, sometimes you need a new or fresher look at leadership and not the career curmudgeon. For those who aspire to become supervi- sors, your preparation for the test and pro- cess started the day you walked across the police academy stage. ose who wait to read the announcement for sergeant testing and only then start preparations will probably fail. Read the requirements ahead of time, as some may take some time and effort to meet. As I told my son, who was recently promoted in the U.S. Air Force, you start on the next pay grade the day you get the current one. SCIENCE AND ART Many ask if leadership is a science or an art. To me, it is a com- bination and balance of both. You can seek out social science classes, read the methodologies of leadership, and know you have authority over people. Pursue your formal education (many agencies require a degree), take traditional police supervisory classes, and even attend civilian/business-focused training as well. Some still believe in the natural born leader, one with per- sonality, charisma, and motiva- tional power over people. ese two schools are best when com- bined and balanced. You cannot have all of one without a blend of the other and be successful. If you think you have not had any preparation for this type of role, don't sell yourself short. e training of the real world is a great proving ground. If you are former military you have had great exposure. What was your prior work experience before law enforcement? Have you vol- unteered, perhaps as an officer of a service, fraternal, or phil- anthropic group? What about coaching a youth team or being an instructor of some kind? Life lessons carry over. Often general leadership skills will also carry over into your law enforcement career. Life is one big learning experience; use your experience to the fullest. Your first day as a supervisor will be one that the great gods of Policeland will relish. Yes, these are gods that have the sense of humor that sometimes haunts us all. ey will give you a few tests. Your first police squad, which you will define as 12 officers out to get you indicted, will be another test. Some of them may have been "passed over" for promotion and now you are their leader. You will hear, "But Sarge, remem- ber when WE did this and it was OK then?" ere will be some officers who will test you at the outset while others will lie in wait. Just note this: You will have to work with them all before it is said and done. IMPORTANT POINTERS ere are some pointers that you as a first timer would do well to take to heart if you want to succeed in your new role. First, understand that every person makes mistakes and your job is to minimize them. e goal is that nobody gets hurt and everyone goes home. e department has the same dream but adds to its goal list liability protection and image protection. It is often what we learn from mistakes that are the most important. To help you meet your goals, seek a mentor (not a monster) to offer you advice and give you direction in your supervisory role. Do not seek someone based on who is your best friend. Seek a trusted, successful leader who can mentor you to follow in their footsteps. Buy the coffee and sit and listen to him or her. is will be someone who can offer insights on your strengths and point out your weaknesses. is mentor needs to guide you in how to build your supervisor toolkit. is person can tell you what it takes to be a solid leader today and into the future. Look for someone who has a reputation for building future leaders. You must also learn trust. At roll call, you give beat/zone as- signments. en officers get in their vehicles and off they go. is is a trusting occupation, not one like the assembly line where the foreman oversees every pro- duction effort. As a young detec- tive sergeant, I was once taught how to handle detectives by a wise old commander. He said they are like holding mashed po- tatoes in your hand; the harder you squeeze them, the less you hold. A general sign of a young (inexperienced) supervisor is one who wants to ride every call, everywhere, and then attempts to handle it their way. If you do this you are nothing but a highly paid patrol officer; learn to trust and allow your officers to grow as well. COMMUNICATION SKILLS One of the reasons you were promoted was due to your knowl- edge, skills, and abilities as an officer. Now you need new skills It's even more important to listen when you're a supervisor. Be available and be there for your officers. When you become a supervisor, you'll have to work with others who were passed over for the same promotion. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES FIRST-TIME SUPERVISOR PHOTO: POLICE FILE

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