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Applying your community engagement skills
Applying your community engagement skills

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9 Step up to leadership

It is a fairly ordinary Monday afternoon. For a change you had Sunday off and spent a relaxing time with your family, thinking about anything but anti-social behaviour. As you walk your regular beat with a colleague a woman comes running out of a nearby house and starts yelling at you to come and help. You have met the woman before and know that she is normally quite calm and relaxed, so you know immediately that something serious must be happening.

As you approach her she explains in a loud and agitated voice that a group of teenagers from outside the area have been hanging around and drinking in the laneway behind her house. At first she ignored them hoping that they would just go away, but they have now started fighting and bottles have been thrown at people’s houses, including hers.

While your colleague attempts to calm down the local resident, you take a moment to reflect on the situation and think about the best course of action. Your first response is to contact the station and ask your supervising officer for guidance on what to do and how best to handle the situation, however, the distress shown by the woman (not to mention the loud yelling coming from the back of the house) makes it clear to you that more immediate action is needed.

Activity 10 What makes a good leader in policing?

In Step up to leadership [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , Constable Michael Allen of the PSNI discusses what both good and bad leaders in policing do, and how people can step up and become better leaders.

Drawing on the insights shared by Constable Allen, reflect on the situation described above along with the broader case study and make notes on the following questions:

  • What could you do to ‘step up to leadership’ in this situation?
  • How would you work with your colleagues to demonstrate leadership in this situation?
  • How would you demonstrate effective leadership to the local community members in this situation?

Having reflected, spend a few moments summarising the implications for your leadership, most particularly in challenging situations.

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Leadership in any context can take many forms, and this is just as true in policing as elsewhere. A key theme developed during the Step up to leadership course is the need for police at all levels to do exactly that – step up to leadership. Rather than being a trait or behaviour possessed by just a few, stepping up to leadership in a policing context can be understood as an attitude that anyone can develop.

Importantly, being a good leader in policing involves recognising the needs and concerns of a wide range of very diverse stakeholders and addressing those wherever possible. This does not mean simply trying to keep everyone happy, but it does imply that leadership in policing involves recognising stakeholders, understanding their challenges and needs, and involving them in decisions that impact them to the greatest extent possible.