Leadership: Why We Need to Use a Hybrid of All Styles




Free, Roger D.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


There is no question that law enforcement agencies have a need for competent leadership, not only during a crisis, but all the time. To be a 21st century leader one must use a variety of leadership styles depending on the situation and those they are leading. When a business fails because of poor or lack of leadership it can go unnoticed; however, when a law enforcement leader fails there is an impact on the citizens and the community. Leadership styles are affected by several factors. These include the leader’s skills, abilities, politics, experience, and environmental factors. Law enforcement leaders must use these factors to provide consistency to their agencies. While there are numerous definitions of leadership, it can be described as a way to influence others to do what needs to be done. There have been many styles of leadership described by numerous researchers and authors; however, there seems to be seven common styles: autocratic, bureaucratic, participative, laissez-faire, transactional, transformational, and servant. Since the inception of American Law Enforcement, police agencies have used an autocratic/bureaucratic authoritarian para-military style of leadership. During the late 1990’s some agencies changed their style of leadership to be more democratic. This paper asserts that to be an effective leader today, one should use a hybrid leadership style, taking into consideration that today’s work force is comprised of traditionalist, baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials. Leaders who use a hybrid style of leadership will be a better fit for a law enforcement agency and its ever-changing situations.



Police Administration, Leadership, Police--Supervision of Leadership, Police--Supervision of