Leadership Traits: an Analysis of Perceived Leadership


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Regis University
ePublications at Regis University
All Regis University Theses
Summer 2012
Leadership Traits: an Analysis of Perceived Leadership Qualities in Law Enforcement and Work Production
Joshua T. Hotchkiss
Regis University
Follow this and additional works at: https://epublications.regis.edu/theses Part of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Commons
Recommended Citation
Hotchkiss, Joshua T., "Leadership Traits: an Analysis of Perceived Leadership Qualities in Law Enforcement and Work Production" (2012). All Regis University Theses. 250. https://epublications.regis.edu/theses/250 This Thesis - Open Access is brought to you for free and open access by ePublications at Regis University. It has been accepted for inclusion in All Regis University Theses by an authorized administrator of ePublications at Regis University. For more information, please contact [email protected]

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LEADERSHIP TRAITS: AN ANALYSIS OF PERCEIVED LEADERSHIP QUALITIES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WORK PRODUCTION by Josh Hotchkiss
has been approved August, 2012

APPROVED:
Profess Dr. Jack McGrath

Thesis Advisor Facul Chair

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ABSTRACT

Leadership is immensely importantto most organizations, and its development is a recognized key to organizational success. Leadership, as a construct, has been researched in boundless depth and has been a focal point to establishing increased productivity and success. Law enforcement has placed a special interest in developing leadership as it relates to performance, productivity and succession planning. Although leadership development is a seminal part of law enforcement objectives, it is difficult to implement clear strategies for doing so. This study examines the gap in research as it pertains to leadership traits and work production by analyzing officers' perceptions of leadership qualities which impact job performance. The study provides guidance in creating established leadership traits which clearly impact patrol officers' willingness to increase productivity. In doing so, the researcher collected data using a mixed method approach to analyze the leadership traits of sergeants as perceived by line level officers which most impact their work production. Grounded Theory was employed as a way to develop theory at the conclusion of the data analysis; and as such, the analysis is best examined through Social Learning Theory.

Keywords: criminology, social learning theory, leadership traits, and law enforcement

LEADERSHIP TRAITS /HOTCHKISS/MSCR696 Table of Contents

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Page

1. INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................... 1
Purpose ........................................................................................................................... 2 Rationale ........................................................................................................................ 2 ResearchQuestion(s) .....................................................................................................4 Limitations/Delimitations .............................................................................................. 4 Definitions ..................................................................................................................... 4

2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE...................................................................................6 Historical Overview......................................................................6 Contemporary Leadership Traits.......................................................8 Leadership Trait Analysis Applied to Law Enforcement. .......................... 9 Parallel Research......................................................................... 11
3.METHODS.............................................................................................................. 13
Research Design ................................................................................ 13 Sample........................................................................................... 14 Measurement .................................................................................... 15
4. RESULTS .................................................................................... 17 5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS ..................................................23
Social Learning Theory ..................................................................26 6. REFERENCES........................................................................................................29
Appendix A .......................................................................................... .31 Appendix B.......................................................................................... .33 Appendix C.......................................................................................... .35
Table one: Quantitative analysis of Likert Scale

LEADERSHIP TRAITS IHOTCHKISS/MSCR696
Introduction The topic ofleadership saturates our daily lives and is discussed in a range of fields. From presidential elections to sports teams, the construct of leadership has nearly developed its own lexicon. In fact, leadership is a central focal point for nearly all organizations that have a desire for specific outcomes or goals. This point manifests itself in the analysis of an organization's productivity. As a result of this, it is reasonable to suggest an organization's yearning for increased productivity is the impetus for preferred strong leadership in most instances. Law enforcement is no exception to this.
Law enforcement is also subject to the scrutiny of leadership successes and failures with regard to productivity; and as such, an emphasis has been placed on the identification and development ofleadership traits such as emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities, conscientiousness, and discipline (Bader, Kemp, & Zaccaro, 2004). These tenants ofleadership, and others, are a prominent topic of contemporary law enforcement research; and have yielded prodigious amounts of information related to best practices among police administrations. Although leadership traits and behaviors ostensibly have been identified, it is difficult for agencies to implement these cannons of leadership effectively throughout the organization (Shafer, 2010). A better understanding of specific leadership behaviors, and the application of those behaviors, within the framework of law enforcement would have a positive effect on work production, thus creating a better organization to serve the community; a shared goal for all of law enforcement.
The Arvada Police Department, located in Arvada, Colorado, is no different in its desire for quality leadership; and it certainly does not differ in its struggle to infuse quality leadership throughout the organization. The Arvada Police Department, like the majority of law

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enforcement agencies, has identified quality leadership as a vehicle to better serve the community, increase perceptions of work conditions, improve employee commitment, and increase productivity (Steinheider and Wuestewald, 2008).

Purpose

This research projects attempted to identify leadership qualities, as perceived by line level officers, which most effect work place production. The perception of leadership qualities were narrowly reserved to the position of sergeant, which is the most direct contact with a rankand-file officer has with agency leadership and supervision. The term "production" is defined by the officers perceived willingness to be proactive as opposed to a desire to only engage the public when called upon, i.e. radio dispatched calls for service. This dichotomy of service is critical to law enforcement as citizen calls for service are a limited amount of the officer's time on shift. An increase in production, as defined by proactivity, will contribute to the overall goals of the law enforcement agencies and will enhance the relationship with the community they serve.

Rationale

Research dedicated to leadership as a whole is robust in many ways; however, there is a gap in research collected with respect to the application of leadership traits in law enforcement as they relate to work production. It is necessary to add to the limited research in order to clearly identify what leadership qualities, as perceived by line level officers, most effect work production.

This is prominently visible when agencies struggle through a work stoppage or slowdown, commonly referred to as the "blue flu." Most of these issues arise when officers are

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upset with management. In 2009, the Cincinnati Police Department experienced a "blue flu" issue related to unsatisfactory working conditions which resulted in 25% of officers refusing to come to work (Perdergast, 2009). The same type of issue arose in Denver, CO, in 2004, when officers were angry about the perceived mistreatment of an officer suspended from the Denver Police Department. Officers began ajob slow-down, only doing minimal tasks required (Kelly, 2009).

Whether the slowing, or outright stoppage, of work production is justified is not addressed here; however, the relationship between line level officers and leadership is at the heart of the issue. Understanding what leadership qualities promote increased work production is formative to law enforcement development and curing of leadership within the organizations. Leadership is instrumental in law enforcement performance, and research readily indicates employees who are satisfied with the organization and its leaders provide a better service (Dobby, Anscombe, & Tuffin, 2004).

This research adds to the limited research devoted to law enforcement leadership traits as they relate to work production, specifically at the sergeant level. Because there is a deficit in the identification of leadership qualities which effect production in law enforcement, much is learned from examining what line level officers require from those in leadership positions. This research is valuable because law enforcement in total is vastly different than most other professions. It is a quasi-militarist occupation with many stressors which influence overall work production. While leadership may be just one component to the explanation of work production, it is a worthwhile matter to scrutinize.

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Research Questions

This study unfurled the leadership traits which most impact work production at the line level officer level by examining the Arvada Police Department in the framework of the following research questions: RQ 1, Do Arvada Police Officers perceive particular leadership traits as important to their work production? RQ 2, If Arvada Police Officers do perceive particular leadership traits as important to work production, what are those traits which most impact their work performance?

Delimitations and Limitations

Limitations of this research are typical of qualitative research in that it depended on the openness and honesty of the participants (Babbie, 2010). This was compounded by the fact the researcher conducting the data collection is currently an acting line level supervisor. This was overcome by aggregate data collection, confidentiality, and the fact the research is not driven by the Arvada Police Department itself An additional limitation to the study is participants may not be highly engaged in their profession, and consequently may not provide valuable responses due to an apathetic or intrinsically aloof attitude. Again, this was overcome by aggregate data collection.

Delimitations to this research were the access to the participants, as the researcher is also a member of the agency and had unfettered access to the sample participants. Also, the research is based on perceptions of officers without the comparative value of a statistical analysis of work production.

Definitions

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Work Production: The desire to self-initiate police activity, i.e. police work not related to radio dispatched calls for service.

Sergeant: A position of rank at the Arvada Police Department with responsibility for direct line level supervision of patrol officers.

Leadership Qualities / Traits: Behaviors and traits (positive or negative), as perceived by subordinates, exhibited by persons in the leadership position of sergeant.

Cognitive abilities: Intelligence; the ability to mentally process information, formulate decisions and actions, and to problem solve.

Extraversion: The quality of being gregarious and outgoing.

Conscientiousness: The quality of being thoughtful and considerate.

Emotional stability: Solidity in demeanor

Openness: Approachable and transparent in character

Agreeableness: The quality of being affable and congenial

Motivation: Having strong intrinsic drive

Social Intelligence: The ability to correctly perceive group dynamics

Emotional Intelligence: The ability to correctly perceive emotions

Problem Solving: The ability to work through dilemmas using pragmatic methods

Discipline: The demonstration of self-control

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Leadership Traits: an Analysis of Perceived Leadership