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Have you got what it takes to lead?

Being a leader requires you to highlight positive culture as well as addressing the negative, something often overlooked by critics of policing.

Have you got what it takes to lead?

Date - 18th July 2022
By - Staffordshire University's Institute of Policing

Have you ever wondered if you’ve got what it takes to be an effective leader? Often, promising leaders dismiss their own potential without thoroughly examining what it means to lead and without any objective reflections on their skills. Could this be because the concept of leadership is so mystic, perhaps it can be put down to imposter syndrome or maybe the constant critique of leaders in the public eye makes us doubt our own abilities. Whatever the reason, the policing profession can only stand to benefit from more people confidently recognising and enhancing their ethical leadership qualities.

The next question you might ask is ‘how do I even start to develop my skills?’ A quick search of the internet returns no less than 112 million results which might answer that question. Fundamentally, before moving towards self-development, you must understand that there is far more to being a leader than just being in charge – especially when operating under the complex pressures of the 21st century.

Developing your confidence and skill

Exploring the concept, context and culture involved in your unique position is a key starting point. Pair that with an ability to reflect and learn then you’re on your way to effective leadership.

The 3 C’s


Simply put, there are two important concepts leaders often concentrate on. Transactional leadership, which is more about being a manager and transformational leadership where you create a positive environment for the people you lead to thrive and develop their professional autonomy.

Often, these are seen as comparatively binary. Realistically, you can incorporate your knowledge, skills and experience and adapt elements of both to develop your personal leadership qualities. It’s worth noting that the leadership of policing also requires critical command and control for crisis situations. Taking all of that into account, suddenly you have infinite leadership choices to make.


How you determine the context of your leadership style is down to your own experience and, sometimes, biases. It can be affected by the environment, politics, access to resources and technology, and will often be considered differently by individuals. This is the case even when using decision models or heuristics to try and make sense of the situation.

Ultimately, in leadership, there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ solution.


The basic idea of culture is often described as ‘how we do things around here’. As you’ll know, always doing things the same way can make a challenging situation even worse. We need to be able to adapt and create environments for innovation and positive impact.

Being a leader requires you to highlight positive culture as well as addressing the negative, something often overlooked by critics of policing. Great leadership learns from the culture it exists in as well as potentially transforming it.

At Staffordshire University’s Institute of Policing, we employ and educate leaders from a range of policing backgrounds. Our approach combines theoretical learning with a tailored review of individual leadership styles, self-reflection and evidence-based approaches.

Whether you think you have leadership potential and are ready to take the next step in your career, or you’re curious to test your abilities and examine critical policing leadership examples with likeminded peers, our Leadership of Policing MSc could be the programme to transform your leadership confidence and capabilities.

We accept future leaders from all areas of policing and criminal justice related roles onto the programme.

  • We value your experience and traditional academic qualifications.
  • You’ll benefit from flexible and accessible delivery methods, designed to help you succeed.
  • You’ll study alongside your peers who understand the professional challenges you face.

Find out more about how we can transform your leadership potential on our Leadership of  Policing page.

If you want to talk to someone about the programme, you’re welcome to attend our Open Day.

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