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Leadership development training is essential to public safety

Sam Davis

Leadership development training is a crucial part of any organization. Public safety professionals have an extra burden -- if their leaders are not exceptional, lives can be lost.

Thus, leadership development training takes on added importance with this mission-critical group of experts. Effective and consistent leadership development training helps ensure that all essential personnel have been trained in the skills they need; not only to do their jobs, but also to lead those around them, to ensure processes are implemented swiftly and accurately to protect the public, and to calm fears.  

Especially in today’s information age, public sector professionals must be able to think critically, to solve problems creatively, to collaborate and to communicate effectively. It is in these new skill areas that workers are coming up short, regardless of the quality of their primary and college educations.

In 2010, the American Management Association (AMA) undertook a study to learn the needs of government and industry organizations when it comes to building and nurturing the leadership pipeline. The AMA Critical Skills Survey revealed that, by overwhelming majorities, executives had begun placing emphasis on a new set of skills that is neither intuitive for most people nor taught in school. We dubbed these skills “The Four Cs,” and they consist of:

Critical thinking and problem solving -- the ability to make decisions, solve problems and take actions as appropriate;

Effective communication -- the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas, both in written and oral forms;

Collaboration and team building -- the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and with opposing points of view;

Creativity and innovation -- the ability to see what’s not there and make something happen.

These four critical skills, from the perspectives of leadership development/potential, talent management and succession planning, impact every area of the professional’s performance. But, even below management level, those employees who don’t develop the Four Cs will be left behind, as will those organizations that don’t make attaining them a priority.

Public safety organizations that develop their people have more success across all performance metrics. Educational investments should be targeted with precision to the Four Cs. Organizations need to think of them across the enterprise in order to achieve excellent results and to develop a leadership pipeline that will guarantee those results into the future. Indeed, everyone in an organization should be skilled in these areas. Without them, an organization is jeopardizing not only its day-to-day operations, but its ability to serve its constituents and support its mission long-term.

Sam Davis is vice president of AMA Enterprise Government Solutions. He can be reached at:

[email protected]


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