Leading or leaning?

Think of those immediately surrounding you in supervisory positions.

Now filter out your natural biases, jealousies or negative comments. Just look around. How did they get to where they are? Okay, now you’re free to flood the responses with whatever your perception is of how they arrived at that level. Some of your suspicions are probably true.

This article isn’t as much for those being led, as those doing the leading.

Ask yourselves how’d you get where you are? Was it because you exhibited leadership ability along the path of your career? Was it because you leaned against the wall longer than the next person?

Ever heard these pearls of wisdom from your superiors? Don’t rock the boat. Being first around here don’t mean squat. Slow down, you’ll make us look bad. If you screw up, I gotta take the heat. If you wanna fit in, you’ll do as i say.

Supervisors, ever mutter those words to an eager, idealistic employee? Most have. Why? Because it threatens their accumulation of time.

From our earliest days, we’ve endured years of hearing the “Seniority” alibi. Time – I got time – He got time – They got time. Ask yourselves just what did you do with that “time” you so proudly rest your laurels upon? Have you been a progressive leader of others, or have you learned to milk the system and the clock?

I’m months away from my 25 years in law enforcement. In no way am I against experiences and seasoning gained over years on the job. Although, to gain experience requires making an effort. To gain time just requires showing up without too much screwing up.

I cringe when I hear officers battling over promotions, assignments, vehicles or the last scoop of alligator sauce piquante and default to TIME.

As a supervisor, that’s usually the factor weighing most heavily against that employee gaining benefits where my discretion is involved. Tell me what you’ve accomplished in that time. We all can accumulate time – just sit there.

Don’t be that guy – you know the one who’s afraid to chance becoming amazing. The one who’d rather wait in the shadows because of fear of making an honest mistake. The one who will never accomplish anything significant, other than meaningless seniority promotions.

Take that chance, ignite a revolution. Be the one to earn benefits based on merit, no matter how many or few years you’ve accumulated. You’re going to spend years there anyway, you might as well make the most of it. Please, don’t be that guy.


Leading or leaning




5 replies »

  1. The last time I heard “slow down you’ll make us look bad” I laughed and said prepare to look bad. Three months later I had my own crew. Three months later I had my own office. Two years later I had my corner office. Then my own company. Now two.

    The guy I said that to is dead. Throat cancer from too many cigarettes and too much booze.

    Such is life. Fantastic article.

  2. I’m a fairly new sergeant, and I have been asked by my officers for suggestions on how to make it in the future tests. The one thing I tell them is “you must decide you will do this you must commit to it. You must say I will spend the days in a library studying, I will pay for a prep course or two or three, I will do what is required but I will do this otherwise stay home save you time”. I’ve known people who can get the books a week out from the test, cram and make a 90 on the written. But those are the exception not the rule. Most people successful on our exam spend 3+ weeks preparing for them. And that pretty much goes with whatever you call “promotion”. Making it to Sgt., the detective squad, motorcycle or mounted. Whatever you want you just have to commit to obtaining it

    • Mike – you hit it on the head. Less than two years on the job and already asking when do i get to be in charge, or work CID, or anything other than committing time to master the foundations of policing.
      Instant gratification culture doesn’t make for great cops – not even decent ones.

      Congratulations on the promotion.

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