Skip to main content Skip to Footer

LATEST THINKING


Leadership development in policing

Police leaders have always had to adapt to new challenges and quickly learn new skills writes James Slessor, Managing Director, Accenture Police Services.

Overview

In recent years this has become even more important with changes in the nature and types of criminality and increased responsibilities on the service. Modern police leaders are expected to master a much broader set of capabilities than their predecessors.

Background

Today, officers regularly find themselves involved in increasingly complex financial discussions and having far greater levels of political interaction than in the past. This, along with the need to forge new partnerships, means officers must understand and collaborate with a wider range of public, private and third sector organisations than ever before.

By providing effective leadership development programs (LDPs), police forces can develop new competencies and critical-thinking skills among officers to deliver successful policing.

Analysis

In 2011, Accenture interviewed 1,000 force supervisors to identify key success factors underpinning best practice leadership development programs. Our research found:

Action learning works best in a policing culture– while many leadership programs are based on case studies, these do not work well for police officer training. Action learning (role play) is important to the success of leadership development programs and having officers think through challenges as part of a problem-solving team is crucial. Working in team groups enables officers to share and learn from their peers and makes their learning experience more powerful;

Specific leadership development activities complement the day job– according to the 70:20:10 learning philosophy, 70 per cent of adult learning comes through on-the-job experiences, 20 per cent from performance feedback and ten per cent from formal learning.

Through surveys, focus groups and interviews, police forces can determine what assignments, responsibilities and activities create successful leaders. These can then be developed into career plans and formal staffing assignments.

Creating a formal model of experiences aligned to career development shows the next generation of leaders how they can progress their careers within the force; and

Give employees tomorrow’s challenges today– getting officers to think about the ‘big picture’ and consider problems more holistically is important to successful LDPs. Usually the tasks officers undertake demand tactical problem solving skills but research shows giving aspiring leaders a mix of problems to solve is the best approach; some operational and others which encourage them to solve wider organisational challenges.

Recommendations

Accenture recently created a supervisor development programme for a US law enforcement agency. Today, this program has expanded to include an interactive two-week supervisor development school with more than 85 customised learning experiences. The program targets aspiring supervisors and seeks to give them the skills and tools necessary to become effective leaders.

The world we live in is changing rapidly. Taking the time to develop highly-skilled police leaders will be key to delivering a successful police service of the future. Find out how Police Forces are transforming for the future.

Video

Leadership development in policing-video

Not just another training program

Police leaders have always had to adapt to new challenges and quickly learn new skills and in recent years this has become even more important with changes in the nature and types of criminality and increased responsibilities on the service.

In this video filmed at the 2013 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference, Police Leaders from around the globe discuss the importance of effective leadership development programs.