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Law enforcement is under pressure to meet more complex missions with fewer resources. Supervisors must be leaders, administrators and operators in a fast-changing environment—all with little formal leadership training or development. An intentional program of experiences, learning and assessments can help develop effective supervisors and higher levels of workforce productivity.
Supervisors should be leading teams, supporting operations and constantly developing their own skills. However, the administrative aspects of the job are time-consuming. All too often, supervisors focus most of their time on completing lower value tasks, rather than spending time on operations, delegating what they can and developing new skills. This is, in part, due to whether or not they were developed as supervisors and leaders throughout their career versus managers of administrative tasks.
Law enforcement organizations spend significant resources on technical or operational training and typically have left developing supervisory skills to chance and trial-and-error learning. Intentional supervisor development can change supervisor behavior, reduce the natural learning curve, institutionalize effective behaviors and speed the journey to high performance.
Effective organizations are able to articulate their leadership competencies and intentionally integrate supervisor-specific learning, assessment tools and the opportunity to practice behaviors through on-the-job experiences in their supervisor development solutions. It helps individuals develop based on their needs in the most memorable “learn by doing” format all within the context of the organizations needs. In fact, it delivers positive outcomes for the organization while developing individuals simultaneously.
Using a blended learning approach of instructor-led training, virtual training and performance support (knowledge management, social media and job aids, for example), supervisors can rapidly learn the “right” leadership behaviors. The value of training is directly proportional to the ability and willingness to practice. Accenture research has shown that practice trumps natural talent and the best-blended learning programs include significant hands on practice requirements.
Law enforcement organizations can define experiences that allow supervisors to practice on the job and by taking stretch assignments. The most powerful experiences transform the person. These have attributes that distinguish them from ordinary experiences and they typically happen outside of comfort zones. For law enforcement, this could include serving on a task force, accepting an international assignment or taking on a joint duty role.
Would it be helpful to supervisors to understand their inherent supervisor style? There are several tools available that provide answers to this and other questions. Assessments help supervisors understand their strengths and weaknesses. When combined with learning, assessments can radically accelerate a supervisor’s ability to become an effective leader.
There are five criteria for effective experience-based leadership development:
Accenture has partnered with a federal law enforcement agency and created a Supervisor Development Program that includes each of the elements discussed above. Similar to many law enforcement organizations, our partner did not have a standard approach tailored to their needs nor could they easily define an “effective supervisor” in the organization.
This program is unique in that it targets aspiring supervisors so they will have the skills and tools necessary to be effective the day they are promoted. Today, this program includes an interactive two-week Supervisor Development School; more than 85 customized experiences to reinforce learning; and uses two developmental assessments to create better individual self-awareness.
November 21, 2011
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