A game changer for leadership practice?


A few weeks ago I read the Guardian and was drawn towards the following headline: “Police need to drop ‘boss knows best’ leadership, says Met contender” . The Guardian had interviewed Sara Thornton, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council. She is considered for the post of Met commissioner, Head of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, and becoming the successor to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

In the piece Thornton called for a change of culture, in my world leadership culture, in the police that moves away from assuming that the higher ups have the appropriate answers to all tasks and activities. For situations and challenges that are complex and I would add, ambiguous, maybe new or unknown, she was cited with saying that “we need to bring everybody’s views to bear on how we solve these problems”.

This a fascinating development and in my experience a process that many other organisations are going through or will go through – affecting culture but also day-day-practice and how managers see themselves as leaders.

This also resonates with my earlier post on ‘FREEDOM TO SPEAK UP – MANAGERS’ CHALLENGE OF LISTENING?’.

Often the opposite comments in my leadership workshops

Interestingly in my workshops participants mention with a sense of longing and awe that in the military or police ‘command-and-control leadership’ is outstanding. Yes, it probably is. And it works in specific situation of police work. However, the interview sounds like we as observers probably hugely oversimplify the different demands the police and other forces are dealing with – and as such in addition new forms of engaging leadership, inspiring higher ups and peers, might be needed to match the reality of the challenges these institutions are facing.

Try this.

When did Command-and-Control last really work well in your organisation? For whom? With which results? I would not be surprised it worked, but maybe in different circumstances than imagined…

Happy engaging – stay tuned.


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