This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Truth, leadership and PCC teams

As a leadership development adviser, I maintain a continuing interest in Machiavelli as I think he has had something of a bad press over the last few hundred years. People who are inclined to regard him as a proponent of scheming and unethical leadership have often not read his original text. If you have not read "The Prince", I recommend that you do. (I read George Bull's 1961 Penguin translation several years ago.)

Why am I mentioning this? In the last few days my mind drifted towards his advice to leaders on selecting advisers (aka deputies and assistant police and crime commissioners) and I dug out my other blog post about this:
‘A prince must therefore always seek advice… he must always be a constant questioner, and he must listen patiently to the truth regarding what he has inquired about’
I knew a Chief Executive once who was so ‘pleased’ with the results of a staff survey he had commissioned that he had the resulting report copies and all the questionnaires shredded.
  • Do you have people around you who tell you the truth? 
  • How do you know?
  • If the truth is not what you want to hear – how do you react?
  • How does your leadership inspire truth?
And on holding back the truth
‘…moreover if he finds that anyone for some reason holds the truth back he must show his wrath’
  • Within your team – what do you do to ensure full and frank discussions?
  • How do you make it clear to them that you need the truth?
My contention then and now, is that the best leaders have people around them whom they can trust to tell them the truth about what is happening and indeed them challenge them. If leaders surround themselves with 'yes' men & women, who are dependent upon their patronage, they are likely to be missing huge opportunities for the development of robust strategy.

These are very early days for PCCs and there is much water to flow under their bridges before the next election in May 2016. Three questions stand out for me:

How many PCCs will exercise the kind of 'truth seeking' leadership being described by Machiavelli above?

How effective will Police & Crime Panels be in providing 'truthful' feedback to their PCC?

If the answer to the above question is 'not very', will other networks be needed in order to hold PCCs to account for their promises to make substantive improvements in crime reduction and community safety?

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