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Columns : Stripes and Bars

The Management Side of Leadership

Keeping employees on task is part of being an effective leader.

June 30, 2015  |  by Amaury Murgado - Also by this author

You often hear the word "leadership" used, but it has become so cliché that the real meaning has been all but lost. Many have pushed away the management side of the house and have ignored the fact that being an effective manager is a big part of a leader's job.

No general ever won a battle with just an idea; their staff had to put that idea into action. What and why questions are part of leadership; who, when, where, and how questions belong to management. I hope you understand that it's very hard to have one without the other. Although I have known several good managers who turned out to be lousy leaders, it's seldom true the other way around. Good leaders by definition have to be good managers.

As a supervisor, you have to get in step with your management side by focusing on planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring. These four general areas easily divide themselves into daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly tasks. Most of your managerial requirements will be policy driven. Find out what your agency expects of you and make it happen. Here are some examples that are meant to wipe the dust off your stripes and bars.

Daily: Daily tasks include meeting with your unit. You have to manage by walking around, especially at the first-line supervisor level. You see subordinates at briefing and you see them on their calls; take these opportunities to perform informal inspections. Check their overall appearance and make spot corrections when needed. Check their vehicles when they pull up to turn in paperwork or meet with you to ask a question. A working dirty patrol car is OK halfway through the shift; having one look like a dump at the beginning or end of a shift is not. Evaluate every officer's paperwork. It must be complete and turned in on time. Scrutinize their inter-office communication. If you signed it and someone in records sends it back, it reflects poorly on you.

Weekly: Make sure your time sheets are done on time. It's the easiest paperwork to complete and yet the most often screwed up. I am always chasing someone down for an electronic signature or having to correct an entry. You should make a point to at least observe each member of your unit doing his or her job at least once a week. How are you going to accurately document their work or make any adjustments to their training if you don't? Make sure you are checking on any projects they are working on. If you delegated something, it's still up to you to make sure that it gets done. I would do surprise equipment checks and log book checks as well. Do them with different officers and at different times to avoid patterns.

Monthly: Monthly requirements tend to be more structured and formal, like performing vehicle inspections. Have a standard that's higher than policy and stick to it. If you keep your standards high, your unit will rise to meet them. If your policy states quarterly inspections, that doesn't mean you can't do more, just no less.

Also, don't announce your inspections ahead of time. Keep them guessing so they never know when you are coming. Perform periodic weapons checks as well. Just don't do them after range fire because that's too obvious. Also quiz your people on policy. Take advantage of any and all training opportunities.

Yearly: Keep tabs on your subordinates' performance for their evaluations. You should set a reminder for when each member of your unit's evaluation is due. Before that date, make sure they attend at least one school every year and that they review their own personnel file. Also recommend that they keep copies of everything important in case someone loses it, purposely takes something out or places something in (unfortunately it's been known to happen), or some disaster strikes the repository. Keep tabs on their certifications as well. Although it's their responsibility, it's your job to help because if they lose the capability, it hurts your effectiveness as a unit.

Management has been defined as the process of coordinating human and material resources to achieve specific goals. In other words, the tasks required by your agency are not optional. Those who pick and choose what tasks to perform and which ones to ignore eventually get into trouble. Don't fall into that trap. Take the management side of the house as seriously as the leadership side and you will be very effective at what you do.

Amaury Murgado is a special operations lieutenant with the Osceola County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office and is an adjunct professor for Valencia College.


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