An introduction to public leadership
An introduction to public leadership

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

An introduction to public leadership

1.3 Who leads?

So in public services, leadership is based on someone’s personal qualities, organisational position and surrounding social context. But what kinds of people lead? And what is the relationship between leadership and management?

As in many public organisations, leadership is hotly debated in policing. In this video, a number of leaders from different police forces, ranks and divisions talk about their perspectives on leadership. Some of the interviewees are managers, and some are not, but they all play a leadership role. They explain what that means to them.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_police_vid_1007.mp4
Skip transcript


We said at the beginning of the course that we'd be taking a closer look at leadership in the fast changing world of policing. So let's take a look at what police leaders think. What different perspectives do they bring to leadership in the public sphere?
Leadership, I believe, varies from person to person. I think over time, as a leader, you build up your own style. I think, for me, good leadership breaks down to really three things. It's about knowing yourself. It's about knowing what works for you, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are. And being aware of that and how you interact with people.
It's absolutely about our people. Often we focus on the tasks that our staff and officers perform. But actually for me, it is about the context in which we're policing. It is very much about the emotional intelligence. And I think it's absolutely essential for people to thrive within teams and within the service. So, you bring all of yourself to the workplace and you're able to contribute. So I think we're as effective as our individual parts. We can be quite tremendous. And I think what good leaders do is to create spaces for teams to thrive.
Command and control leadership has its place in policing, of course. When you're in charge of a riot situation in a major city, you want people who are well trained, doing what they're expected to do, and doing what they're told to do. But day to day, we're like any other organisation. And it's about using discretion, it's about helping people and it's about getting the full value out of people. And interestingly, I think policing is moving much more into this domain of caring and trustworthy. And certainly talking to the senior command course with our future assistant chief constables, they are really taken by this. This sort of personality based policing.
I think it's really about your own personal values. Do you believe in public service? Are you interested in service? Be professional. Do you have good integrity? Are you compassionate? And do you have a belief in equality and human rights?
We've talked a lot lately about empowerment within policing. And everybody agrees it's a good thing and we should all be empowered to make decisions. But to have that, you have to have a lot of trust. And trust is based on evidence, you know. If somebody lets you down, then you will lose their trust.
What is it to be led by you? What is it that you actually like about being led by some particular person? So if you close your eyes and think of somebody where you've had a really good time – and, again, I refer back to well-being here – where you've felt really motivated, really committed, cared for in the workplace. Where you've got a real desire, motivation to come to work. You enjoy it. What is it about that environment that inspires you? And I think most people would refer instantly to how they're led at that point in time.
Having a longer-term perspective, being very clear about the things that matter most, and being able to distil key success factors from home work factors. All of that requires a different mindset from many of the things that make you successful and very good at your job at other ranks.
Being able to take strategic issues, complex issues, and being able to translate them into something that is understandable for those people who are following us. And there's a lot of complexity, not just in policing, but in the public service at the moment. And being able to convert that into simple messages is really key.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371