Leadership is the capacity of humans to guide or, in other words, lead other employees, teams, and even entire organizations with the primary purpose to reach some objectives or missions. In simple words, despite the enormous amount of controversial approaches to leadership, this concept is directly connected with the raising of an individual’s performance to extremely high standards. It is important to note the fact that leadership is significant in diverse spheres of human occupations, including police. The given research paper aims to determine and assess the impact of effective leadership on police performance, morale, and production. Moreover, much attention will be paid to the positive influence of several leadership styles on police officers.
General Overview of Leadership Styles
Nowadays, the researchers differentiate several dozens of leadership styles that are based either on individual work or collaborative team performance. However, the most common and, at the same time, the most recognized are five of them, including transformational, transactional, participative, autocratic, and, finally, laissez-faire leaders. At the same time, many researchers claim that the most widespread and influential types of leaders are as follows: transactional, democratic, laissez-faire, authoritarian, and paternalistic. Taking into consideration the nature of authoritarian or, in other words, autocratic leadership style, it is important to stress that this type of leadership is based on strict supervision and control. Authoritarian leaders support the idea that excessive and direct supervision is a key factor that contributes to efficient performance. A strict police officer that penalizes even minor offenders for speeding violation is a bright example of the communicative behavior of authoritarian leaders (Campbell & Kodz, 2011).
Taking into consideration the nature of democratic leadership, it should be stated that these leaders usually impress their subordinates with their incredible decision-making abilities. Democratic leaders are enthusiastic proponents of the idea that social equality between leaders and their subordinates influences the success of entire businesses or occupations. In general, positive traits of good democratic leaders are as follows: honesty, competence, intelligence, inspiration, courage, increased motivation, and imagination (Campbell & Kodz, 2011).
Laissez-faire leadership style gives employees a chance to manifest their strengths and weaknesses. One of the main disadvantages of this leadership style is connected with insufficient direction or guidance of the followers. Consequently, this leadership style results in the lack of the employees’ productivity, self-rule, and failure to meet organizational needs. Despite numerous advantages of laissez-faire leadership style, this type of leadership may lead to the downfall in case subordinate employees feel insecure or are unreliable and indifferent workers (Campbell & Kodz, 2011).
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A paternalistic leader feels complete concern and cares for subordinates or followers. In this case, the relationships between co-workers and leaders are extremely warm, sincere, and solid. In order to motivate the employees, paternalistic leaders refer to such effective means as trust, cooperation, equity, and loyalty to subordinates. Finally, according to the nature of transactional leaders, it is important to note that these leaders use the system of rewards and punishments to motivate their employees. Also, the researchers claim that transactional leaders rely on the established routine work and procedures. Effective and persistent transactional leaders give entire organizations a chance to reach such valuable objectives as maturity, effectiveness of operations, increased productivity, and loyalty of employees (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013). Thus, having determined and evaluated the drawbacks and advantages of major leadership styles, it is rather important to sum up that the success of the organizations depends on a balance between the leadership styles being applied and equality among leaders and their employees.
Police Leaders and Leadership Styles
Improving police leadership is considered to be the main characteristic that can drastically change the face and professionalism of police officers. In other words, enhancing police leadership is the major plank in the reform agenda of police administration. At present, there are no either unambiguous evidence or results of statistics that would express a clear link between the impact of particular leadership style on the efficiency of police performance and success. Nowadays, police performance is widely criticized because of failure of police officers to cope with a huge range of problems. Improvement of leadership styles within the sphere of police is tremendously important as it positively influences the process of police modernization. At present, with the help of various interlinked studies that involve numerous interviews and postal questionnaires of police officers, the researchers aim to establish effective leadership styles and traits that positively impact effective performance of police officers and their readiness to face extremely dangerous offenders and risky situations (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004).
Taking into consideration the research results provided by the Police Leadership Development Board, the majority of police officers that participated in interviews and questionnaires want their leaders to make them satisfied and proud of the service being provided as well as their contribution to the welfare of the community. Moreover, the interviewees claim that enthusiastic and committed leaders help the staff to achieve their goals. In addition, police officers believe that effective police leaders should pay attention to personal as well as professional standards, participate in constant developing of all staff members, and possess appropriate knowledge and skills (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004).
Taking into account the results of statistics, it is extremely important to emphasize that approximately 80 % of police officers are convinced that transformational leadership within the sphere of police is considered to be one of the most effective and influential (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004). Therefore, they claim that transformational leaders influence their subordinates in a positive way as these leaders contribute to job satisfaction and commitment of subordinates to organizational needs and objectives. The transformational framework of leadership positively impacts the professional competence of the employees and their desire to meet strategic and tactical goals. Transformational leaders do not care only about personal benefits as they serve the community and act according to the principles of morality and equality. This behavior has numerous benefits as it motivates the subordinates to reach organizational goals and missions (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004).
Police Leadership Development Board provides important data that strong police leadership style is considered to be the key element that may not only enhance police performance but also reduce crime around the globe. Training, education, professionalism, and leadership are essential at every level of police services. Numerous organizational and training courses for police officers are established to improve performance and ability of the police staff to cope with difficult situations. The researchers have managed to estimate that the influence of police leadership on the police staff is enormous. However, police leaders may either enhance the efficiency of performance or lead to dissatisfaction among the police staff (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004).
Therefore, police leaders influence job satisfaction, morale, and organizational commitment of their subordinates. However, not all leadership styles impact the other employees in a positive way. For instance, taking into consideration the results of statistics provided by the recent survey that involves approximately 180 police officers, sergeants, and lieutenants on the territory of Midwestern police department in the USA, transformational leadership is the most effective leadership style as it results in increased job satisfaction among the police officers. Such leadership styles as participative and supportive are also good because they contribute to organizational commitment and enhance job satisfaction among the police officers (Wuestewald, 2006).
Features of Character and Traits of Effective Police Leaders
According to the recent surveys that aimed at determining the most influential positive leadership traits among the police officers, it was estimated that the following competencies and skills have proved their efficiency (Campbell & Kodz, 2011):
- active listening;
- managing organizational change;
- increased organizational commitment;
- respect to all members of the police staff;
- setting clear vision and strategy;
- enhanced credibility;
- active participation of subordinates in the processes of decision-making (Campbell & Kodz, 2011).
In addition, according to the wide range of different methodologies, leadership is no less important than communication and decision-making processes. Besides, on the basis of the recent experiments that involve more than four hundreds of police officers on local, federal, and state levels in the USA, effective leaders should possess the following crucial characteristics: critical thinking, increased commitment to ongoing education, ambitious plans, supportive behavior, close cooperation with the subordinates, sociability, respect, emotional stability as well as competitive drive, well-developed communicative skills, strong personality, and many other beneficial features (Campbell & Kodz, 2011). Thus, having determined and assessed numerous positive characteristics, qualities, and traits of effective police leaders, it is possible to summarize that ideal police leaders that would have enough power to guide and control their subordinates should perform the functions of ethical workers, good communicators, confident decision-makers, and trustworthy friends.
The significance of a police leader being ethical has already justified its effectiveness and contribution to the decreased crime rates (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013). It is important to note that the sense of integrity, trustworthiness, and honesty motivates police officers to cooperate with their leader in order to achieve common goals and objectives. The researchers claim that police leaders should be recommended to maintain “servant leadership style”. In other words, servant leadership denotes close cooperation between leaders and followers with the purpose to justify the expectations of employees and satisfy their needs. According to the research results, police leader with ideal characteristics is the person that expresses the features and qualities of servant leadership (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013). In addition to ethics and moral principles, police leaders should be the role models for their subordinates. The role models within this sphere should follow the so-called idealized behavior that involves respect, faith, and, finally, pride. Furthermore, every police leader should perform the skills of a good communicator. Communication with subordinates is tremendously important as it gives police leaders a chance to establish a tight and reliable contact with other police staff workers. In order to have support from the subordinates, police leaders should recognize the significance of explaining decisions, behaviors, and actions to other employees. Besides, communication is usually referred to as a key element in determining the organizational commitment. Taking into account the results of recent investigations, police officers at all ranks rely on the so-called degree of certainty about their role and importance from their leaders (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013).
Thus, it is possible to stress that police leaders should acquire the skills and characteristics of persuasive communicators that may speak on different issues starting from decentralization or commitment and ending up with significance of innovation, effective management, cooperation, and teamwork. The researchers support the idea that police leaders should become critical as well as creative thinkers. In other words, creative, as well as critical and strategic thinking are extremely important as these abilities serve as the key attributes of successful leadership. Police leaders should possess enough skills to recognize and evaluate possible hazards and, consequently, cope with them. Taking into consideration the results of the qualitative review, police agents should attend specialized programs and training in order to have enough skills to think on their feet, make tough choices, easily recognize various patterns among different types of complicated problems, and, finally, search for convincing proofs and facts to prove or refute different hypotheses (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013). In addition, it is rather important to note that critical and creative thinking and imagination stimulate cooperation as well as teamwork among police staff. Trust, reliability, and trustworthiness are no less important for police leaders. The majority of researchers are the proponents of the idea that trust is considered to be a characteristic as well as the activity of police leaders (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013). Trust and reliability among police leaders should be promoted within various police organizations with the purpose of creating healthy work environments and effective working relationships. Trust in the leadership of the police force promotes integrity, credibility and even respect among police leaders and their subordinates. In case police officers trust their leaders, they will actively participate in the processes of decision-making, problem-solving, and listening (Porter et al., 2015). On the contrary, the absence of trust, cooperation, and trustworthiness will deprive police leaders of the opportunity to manage, control, and guide their subordinates. Finally, it is important to stress that such common features as legitimacy and credibility are no less important as these qualities increase cooperation of the public with the police leaders and police officers. Credibility ensures a chance to police leaders to control their followers and guide their subordinates (Porter et al., 2015).
Taking into account the leadership requirements model, presented by the researchers in the USA, every professional police leader should know and follow the core leader competencies (Porter et al., 2015). Leading, developing, and achieving are considered to be three main competencies of police leaders. In other words, police leaders have duties to perform a wide range of vitally important functions, especially leading others, extending influence and power beyond the chain of command, respecting, communicating, creating a positive atmosphere, developing self, educating others, and achieving noticeable outcomes. However, the attributes of police leaders are no less significant than their core competencies and qualities. In general, army values, empathy, readiness to cooperate, military bearing, confidence in individual and team strengths, mental agility, and domain knowledge are referred to as the key attributes of police leaders (Porter et al., 2015).
Thus, having determined the basic qualities, features, and traits of police leaders, it should be summarized that the major models every effective police leader should know are as follows: ethical and moral individual, role model, persuasive communicator, person with well-developed critical as well as imaginative thinking, confident decision-maker, and, finally, trustworthy and reliable friend. In general, all these qualities are equally important to police leaders who want to cooperate with their followers to meet the needs of entire communities (Pearson-Goff & Herrington, 2013).
Transformational and Transactional Leadership as Perfect Leadership Styles in Police
According to the estimations of the researchers and the results of statistics, transformational approach to leadership is considered to be the most effective in police outcomes because of numerous convincing reasons. In general, a transformational police leader is a courageous person with charisma who can motivate subordinates and make them feel passionate about the success of their missions. The most significant advantages of transformational leadership style within the sphere of police are motivation, planning, retention, and, finally, growth (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014). Taking into account the idea of motivation, it should be stated that transformational police leaders use encouragement and inspiration to motivate subordinates to be more productive to achieve their goals and objectives. In addition, it is believed that transformational police leaders make attempts in order to motivate the entire police staff to participate in decision-making processes and planning. In case the entire police staff is on the same page with the leader’s vision, it makes the process of achieving goals not only easier but quicker, as well (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014). However, it should be stated that transformational police leaders focus their attention not only on the inspiration of their subordinates. On the contrary, effective transformational police leaders understand that nothing will be done without planning and well-thought strategies. Retention of transformational police leaders is no less important as this feature reaches out every police officer and brings out the best in all of them. Finally, managing police staff to meet the expectations of society and reduce crime is one more integral feature of a transformational leader in the sphere of police work. Numerous researchers in the USA claim that police leaders should be a “one-trick pony”. In other words, they claim that effective police leader should apply and follow only one leadership style or model (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014).
Police leaders who practice transformational style of leadership encourage police officers to share a so-called vision of success with them. One more advantage of transformational police leaders deals with the fact that these leaders are ready to reject self-interest in order to achieve a greater good in the future. Thus, effective transformational leaders are usually formed on the basis of several major assumptions. Firstly, police officers are most willing to follow the transformational leaders who motivate and inspire them. Secondly, police officers are extremely motivated to accomplish a mission in case they understand the urgency and significance of a task. Thirdly, collaboration and teamwork that are, as a rule, promoted by the transformational leaders, is far more effective than individual performance. Fourthly, transformational police leaders motivate their subordinates to achieve a “greater good”. That is why, material rewards seem unnecessary and, to some extent, trivial compared to the idea of a “greater good” and hope for better future (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014).
However, while comparing transformational and transactional leadership styles in the sphere of police, many researchers claim that the second option is better, despite several limitations of transactional leadership. Transactional leadership in the sphere of police concentrates both on leaders’ and followers’ self-interests. In the majority of cases, transactional leaders act on the basis of a so-called exchange. According to the essence of this exchange, police officers persistently work to achieve some benefits and, at the same time, avoid severe penalties or various forms of punishments (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014). Moreover, one of the most influential strengths of transactional police leadership is its primary focus on “here and now.” In other words, transactional leaders motivate their followers not to postpone but to get everything done in extremely short terms. According to the results of the scientific data, transactional leadership has proven its efficiency during the period of the World War II, when army leaders assigned mandatory replacements of soldiers to the front lines with the unique purpose to strengthen combat units (Fisher, Weir & Phillips, 2014).
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In general, transactional leadership aims to create strong and lasting bonds between police officers and their leader and encourage them to follow their goals even when their leader is not present (Fisher, Weir, & Phillips, 2014).
As a result, the significance of leadership in the sphere of police, basic leadership styles as well as positive traits of effective police leaders, and, finally, the essence of transformational and transactional leadership as the most significant leadership styles for police leaders have been reviewed. Thus, it is possible to infer that leadership plays a key role within the sphere of police as it ensures a vision and solutions to complicated problems, motivates hard work and cooperation, and, finally, unites police officers with the primary purpose to combat crime and improve the quality of life of the civilians. Convincing communicative skills, cooperation, education, ongoing development, focus on police values, ethics, confidence in personal strengths, imagination, persistence, and enthusiasm are considered to be the most significant core competencies and attributive traits of effective police leader. Finally, it is important to note that transformational and transactional leadership styles are considered to be the most effective within the sphere of police. Moreover, until nowadays, the researchers in the sphere of psychology disagree whether transformational or transactional leadership is more effective as both of them have numerous advantages as well as limitations.