“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” –Robert Collier
The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to share positive leadership tactics with the field of law enforcement. Positive leadership starts by creating a positive squad culture.
Sergeants or first-line supervisors have direct influence on the officers assigned to them and the environment in which they work. The direction a squad takes culturally can be attributed to the leadership, or lack thereof, provided by the sergeant or first-line supervisor.
Culture is defined by the actions and attitudes of a particular group demonstrated over time. The culture of a squad will carry over into everything they do both within the department and out in the community.
Power, Passion, People, and Production
1. Power of Policing – Setting a clear vision and mission for a squad is crucial. The department provides a framework, but the TBL Leader defines it and gives it life. The ability to take a group of officers and show them exactly what winning looks like generates power. The more power the TBL Leader shares with the squad, the stronger the squad as a whole will become and the more impact they will have on the community. Without a barrel, a shotgun loses all effectiveness because the pellets have no direction. TBL Leaders provide the direction and thus the power.
2. Passion for Policing – Passion is infectious! If the TBL Leader consistently shares their passion for the job with their squad, then the squad will reciprocate by retaining or regaining their own passion. When an entire squad has a shared passion, then overlapping squads take notice and want to have that same feeling of success. Passion also develops a desire to be at work and a commitment to protecting the positive culture by always working at a high level. Work is always at its best when it does not feel like work. TBL Leaders will always attract great officers to their squads that buy into what they are selling. Passion for policing should be encouraged and never discouraged.
3. People are Policing – Victims, citizens, officers, and suspects – no matter the role, people are policing. Creating a positive squad culture directly impacts how officers respond to the people within the community they serve. TBL Leaders set the expectation that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect, even those under arrest. Then, they go out with their officers to regularly model, support, and reward this desired behavior. Officers are always watching how the TBL Leader handles a situation and learning from it. Demonstrate that treating people right can be one of the most effective officer safety tools in their toolbox.
4. Production in Policing – Law enforcement production has always been a double-edge sword. The person who just received a speeding citation may be the one calling 911 shortly thereafter when their home is being burglarized. This dual role as both enforcers and protectors creates a very fine line for officers to walk. With that being said, departments need a way to show they are getting what they pay for, but must be cautious about assigning quantitative-only measures. When people are reduced to being stats, there is the risk that integrity, fairness, and good judgment could go by the wayside in lieu of statistical production. To offset this, TBL Leaders must routinely reward quality production, as opposed to just sheer quantity. Rewarding quality production regularly will teach officers where the balance point lies and what winning looks like to the TBL Leader. This is an essential part of developing a positive squad culture.
By establishing a positive squad culture; power, passion, people, and production are all engaged positively. Will this require extra time, effort, and thought on the part of the TBL Leader? Absolutely, but the end result, the sum of those small efforts repeated day in and day out will be well worth it.
The next blog at Thin Blue Line of Leadership will provide real-world suggestions for creating a positive squad culture . . .
How have you seen leaders within your department create a positive squad culture?
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