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Issue No. 357 May 2012

The value of leadership

By Commissioner Peter Marshall

This week I attended the Area Commanders' conference at Police College, which reminded me of the importance of leadership to Police. Area Commanders are lynchpins, with huge influence up and down the chain of command, and I’m delighted by the quality of the people in these positions.

Commissioner Peter Marshall talks leadership to participants on a course at Police College.
Photo: Penny Clevely, RNZPC TSC

Individual leaders bring individual attributes to the job but some leadership qualities I regard as sacrosanct.

Our leaders must be absolutely ethical in their dealings with subordinates, colleagues and the public. They must have the common touch but walk the line between being aloof and being too familiar.

Good leaders don’t have a big ego but they’re media-savvy and front up in good times and bad; they’re confident, decisive and accountable; they’re organised; they know when to keep confidences and are sensitive to staff welfare issues; they cultivate the relationships we need with partner agencies in these complicated times.


A little self-deprecating humour works wonders; leaders must remember to have a life outside work; they must understand the elements of ability, hard work and luck - and how the first two help create the third.

We’re enjoying high public trust and confidence; staff engagement is improving; our progress is recognised in the likes of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report and Performance Improvement Framework review.

This is down to a lot of work by a lot of leaders, in the past as well as now. We’ll continue to have exceptional leaders into the future.

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