There are probably more theories about leadership than actual leaders. Entire continents of trees have met their death in the cause of books that try to identify what makes a good leader… The recent Hillsborough Disaster news and comment has once again, galvanised my mind towards the quality, skills and capabilities of leadership within our society.
Although the majority of my work-life experiences relate to the public sector, I’ve also a good deal of experience within the private sector. To a certain extent, the drivers for many of our leaders in the public and private sectors used to differ immensely but today, perhaps that divide has narrowed somewhat?
Leadership – Profits before principles? According to the latest Index of Leadership Trust, managers are more interested in the bottom line than ethical behaviour – and that has an impact on how much we trust them…(Read more)
It’s hardly surprising that so many workers have such low levels of trust in their leaders and managers today, workforce and leadership priorities and drivers often appear a world apart. However to my mind, I don’t believe there should be any massive divide between good leadership and management skills in either sector.
But the clear line that what was once all about profit in the private sector and service in the public, compounded by the selling off of public services to commercial organisations, is now so blurred we have difficulty in getting our heads around all the real issues involved.
I had to agree with Inspector Gadget. He made it clear how sorry he was about the events of that day, even though he wasn’t even involved, nor was however; I feel the same, for mostly the same reasons.
Insp Gadget – I’m sorry for Hillsborough: I once heard a Townsend-Thoresen employee apologise for the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. He wasn’t on board but felt tainted by the mistakes. I now know what he meant…(Read more)
Like Gadget I also feel tainted, it’s a kind of transferred guilt by association thing, or at the very least embarrassment about being part of the same organisation which failed the public so badly, even though the events of that day had absolutely nothing to do with me.
But I have been part of that ‘Police Family’ and, like Gadget, it saddens and angers me when things aren’t done correctly. Like the public, I’m also angry when failings are disguised or covered up to protect anyone responsible for that failure, especially if it was intentional.
We should however remember; not all failure is intentional and not all failure is the ultimate responsibility of he/she who actually failed. But today, probably more so now than ever before, our public lynch mob mentality, drummed up to a frenzy by a caustic media, means someone simply has to be thrown to the wolves of accountability.
We also need to be aware; the skills, knowledge, training and capabilities of today’s emergency services are a world apart from what they were 20+ years ago. In short, we’re never happy until someone (or something) has been blamed for the thing we’re not happy about, even when the cause of our angst is sometimes, simply the result of our own actions or inactions.
It’s this systematic and constant criticism that has totally undermined and removed the last glimmers of public trust in policing and, to a lesser degree, support for the remainder of our emergency services. It’s that and the almost constant political diatribe and rhetoric about how “well off” or ”protected” and “unaccountable” these services have become. I’m not suggesting for one minute that all police officers are squeaky clean and above reproach however; it is the setting of this stage of public perception that fuels the proliferation of such views.
The police must no longer be immune from radical reform - The police must no longer be immune from radical reform. Hillsborough emphasises that the government must be bold in dealing with the last unreformed public service…(Andrew Rawnsley)
Rawnsley, like so many others, has allowed himself to stoop to some easy mud-slinging. But mud, like blood, is thicker than water; when it’s slung it sticks to all, irrespective of their ethics or (alleged) wrongdoings. The mostly unseen consequence of all this is; the ’family’ under constant attack will naturally tend to become even more insular and self-protecting. The exact opposite effect to that which we’re (apparently) aiming to achieve?
For some time now I’ve also held the belief; we tend to get the type of leadership we deserve. Not only do we actually get the leadership we deserve but to a certain extent, we also tend to actively encourage, promote and replicate those traits in our leadership which we subsequently come to abhor, especially when things don’t go the way we want.
It’s good to see that Kevin Sampson, who can actually base his observations and comment upon first hand knowledge and experience of the disaster, remained a little more level-headed and stoic on many of the leadership and management issues involved on that day, and subsequently.
Hillsborough: I walked one way. The less fortunate walked another – Hillsborough was a tragedy that had deep roots in a highly divisive and confrontational 1980s Britain where ‘enemies within’ had been identified – not least in my home city of Liverpool…(Kevin Sampson)
That’s my view, what’s yours?
- Hillsborough: I walked one way. The less fortunate walked another (guardian.co.uk)
- The police must no longer be immune from radical reform | Andrew Rawnsley (guardian.co.uk)
- Hillsborough: ‘Incredible that justice took 23 years’, says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (telegraph.co.uk)
- Hillsborough disaster inquest can help us learn lessons (telegraph.co.uk)
- I’m sorry for Hillsborough (inspectorgadget.wordpress.com)
The decision to wear a tie (or not) can be a “sartorial minefield” for politicians and the public alike; so says historian David Cannadine in his BBC article The language of ties and many would tend to agree.
I wonder if the ‘problem’ is born out of our inherent desire to ‘fit in’ which, as a consequence, also drives our perceptions of acceptability?
Considering the fact, as individuals (and as a society), we have a tendency to judge people simply by their appearance, I’ve always been one of those who is more interested in substance and functionality, rather than form or appearance, be it actual or contrived.
What someone is wearing or how they appear, rarely replicates who they are in reality or indeed, how they actually perform. My friend and social sparing partner Rab is a fine example in point however; these factors can also be used to create a false image; the image we, or our employer and/or society, are seeking to portray.
The tie is just one part of the often elaborate rouse we employ to portray an initial image. But this little strip of cloth also serves to create an almost constant “should I, shouldn’t I” dressing conundrum, even more so for those in particular roles or positions within society it would seem. The tie was once de rigueur however today, actually not wearing one can also be just as important, apparently.
To press the flesh and get yourself elected, it seems essential to dress down and appear casual, like ordinary voters, rather than be buttoned up or formal…(David Cannadine)
But the humble tie is not just another one of those shocking fashion failures of history,it’s also indicative of uniformity. Mostly due to the symbolism associated with ties, dependant upon design, wearing a tie in Britain might imply you are a humble office worker, or that you belonged to one of the closed academic or organisational worlds that form part of our establishment.
There was some justification for this view, well summed up in the phrase “the old school tie“, which was – and in some quarters still is – redolent of snobbery, elitism, connection and privilege…(David Cannadine)
The term old school tie is often used as a derogatory metaphor by the media for old-boy social networks, nepotism, and the relatively disproportionate success of former pupils of major public schools, especially in politics and business. For example, after the 2010 General Election, The Times noted that 6% of the parliamentary Conservative Party were Old Etonians, under the headline “Tories’ old school tie still rules” (source wikipedia.org).
Those with liberal views (a friend who fits this category knows who he is), along with those who hold somewhat more radical anti-establishment desires, see the tie as an aspect of enforced uniformity. The way in which it’s worn can also be used a symbol of rebellion. By refusing to wear one at all, or by wearing it in a non conformist manner, as with the youth of today where “the British school tie has gone rogue” (see here).
When free to choose, deciding whether or not you wear a tie can be difficult, it’s a choice not helped by the now common place dress down ethic. A trait designed to imply a more touchy feely and approachable type of persona. But being encouraged to ‘dress down’ for your role or by your employer doesn’t always achieve the desired result.
It has to be said that many of the advantages of a uniform or dress code (actual or perceived) are often negated by the wearer in any case. After all, so many people have the inbuilt ability to resemble a bag of shit, no matter what they wear!
Today, police officers in England and Wales have heard about the forthcoming retirement of Paul McKeever. However, knowing Paul as I do, it is highly unlikely that he will actually turn his back on policing, or the myriad of issues the service currently faces. Paul’s passion for the service and those who work within it on our behalf, like most of us who have served, is likely to continue unstinted for several years to come.
His departure from the Police Federation will undoubtedly leave a massive hole in the system of staff representation and it’s negotiating framework, one that will undoubtedly be difficult to fill. His retirement also has the potential to further damage and/or undermine an already dwindling level of support for The Voice of policing.
Cuts Prompt Fed Chairs Departure | UK Police News: Paul McKeever, the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, will retire in January 2013, claiming he cannot remain with the Police Service while it is under attack…(Police Oracle)
Unfortunately, the Police Federation has come in for some scathing criticism of late, from both internal and external sources. Some of the more militant members within policing have branded the organisation as a toothless wonder whilst externally; heads of some public sector unions, many in the private sector, various MPs and a selection of political activists have been even more disparaging.
Many, for whatever personal or organisational reasoning, have sought to belittle or undermine any or all of the recent concerns raised by the Police Federation. Concerns and observations that have been raised in light of Government proposals for reform and modernisation of OUR police service.
Yes, issues around individual conditions of service and financial impacts being faced by police officers have (rightly) been highlighted however; many concerns raised by the Police Federation have actually had more to do with overall service efficiency and the quality of service delivery. The negative impacts we the public will face as a consequence of government induced changes to policing. Changes that may be dressed up as ‘modernisation’ and ‘reform’ but in many respects, are little more than a direct result of political and financial direction.
Paul retires at the apex of what is arguably, one of the most difficult periods in the history of British policing. He was and is a well-respected, well-educated and highly efficient and easily understood orator. A person who can and has explained difficult policing issues in terms that those outside the service should be able to understand. The fact that many (in and outside the service), chose not to ignore Paul’s advice and observations is not a failing that should be attributed to him.
The gaping hole left by Paul’s departure will be difficult to fill and his undoubted value to the service should never be underestimated.
I cannot stay within a service that is having the Office of Constable attacked, police officers denigrated and public safety put at risk. I will be able to fight freely outside the service; I may be retiring but I will not stop fighting for what is right and for public safety. The police service is full of extraordinary men and women, some of the finest in the country. It is a privilege and an honour to represent you. Stay strong…(Paul McKeever)
Paul… Thank you for your effective and professional leadership and skillful management of The Police Federation. Your unstinting efforts and hard work to protect our once great police service has not gone unnoticed. It’s a shame that the service you and I originally joined is set to change out of all recognition. A service that is unlikely to ever achieve the erstwhile levels of world-wide acclaim it once enjoyed… I hope you have a very long and happy retirement.
- Bravo Bravo Mr Paul McKeever (antiwinsornetwork.wordpress.com)
- Police forces no longer able to protect public as 5,800 frontline officers cut by 2015 (telegraph.co.uk)
- Theresa May ‘on precipice of destroying police service’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Police service ‘worsened by cuts’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Hundreds of police stations to close in cutbacks (independent.co.uk)
- The changing face of British policing? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- UK Policing – Media and Politically Induced Public Misconceptions (bankbabble.wordpress.com)