From the Soldier and Cop side: The funny thing about having been a soldier and a cop for so many years is that there are so many things that are the same in both jobs. Both jobs have had some excitement. Both jobs have required long days in bad environments. Both jobs have allowed me to work with some really good people and some great leaders. And both jobs have also forced me to work with some really suckass leaders.
There are lots of qualities in a good leader. One good quality is that they know what they are doing and can show others how to do it. One of the funniest things I noticed about some of the really bad leaders is that they would try to come up with a motto, slogan or even take a quote from an actually good leader who was a historical figure.
The Army is great at mottos. Every company I was ever in had a company motto. When I was in “West” Berlin, I was in C Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry.
Our company was called “Charlie Cobras”. And our Battalion was “Second to None” (stolen from the 2nd Infantry Division.)
We changed it, depending on how much beer we’d consumed over the weekend to “Charlie Snakes, ssssssssssssssssssssss. Second to None, First to Run.” Or, “Second to some.”
Check the police cars in your area and see what motto they have on the sides of the patrol cars. Then ask the cop: "What's that motto mean?" (say it with a smile so you don't upset them)
Anyway, you get the idea and I’m sure many vets reading this will have something to add.
The other thing I’ve seen some leaders do is show up late or miss the training on the latest and greatest thing. Of course they are very busy people and they are the boss, so they must already know all…right? Here’s a few real life examples of dumbass leaders who missed the training and screwed up…but shifted the blame:
1.) Large local law enforcement agency near where I work. An admin type shows up on a critical situation and decides that he needs to take a Remington 870 shotgun from a patrol car to point around towards the bad guy who was armed. The Remington 870 comes from the factory able to hold 4 rounds of 12 gauge ammo in the magazine. However, a brilliant range master had modified all their shotguns with extended magazines to hold 7 rounds. (this was in the 1980s’)
The law enforcement admin puke had racked a round into the chamber…the critical incident was resolved without gun fire…until the admin puke went to clear the shotgun. Instead of using the magazine release and removing the rounds the proper way, he cycled the slide. He counted 4 rounds, then instead of checking the chamber, he pulled the trigger and got a very loud BANG!!! Of course it wasn’t his fault…it was blamed on the extended magazine and they quickly removed all the extensions because they were deemed to be UNSAFE!
2.) Where I used to work…I was training all the officers, detectives and sergeants on the new M-4 Carbine (short AR-15) for patrol. The first part of the training I went over how to use the tactical slings. Then I went over the Red Dot sights. Of course one of the patrol sergeants was late and missed half the training. When he tried to use the tactical sling, he got all tangled up and said it was “unsafe.” Later that night, he tried to “zero” the M4 in the patrol sergeant’s car. He had no idea what he was doing and when I checked that weapon a few days later, I found that it was off about 3 meters from a 25 meter target. This would have missed a man sized target at only 25 meters! This “problem” was blamed on the fancy sights, not the dumbass sergeant. I had to explain to the patrol captain why we spent all that money on the fancy red dot sights if they were so bad. How do you politely explain that the sergeant missed the training and had no idea what he was doing? Well, I never get points for being polite.
Leaders must get the same training or even more training than those they lead. They must know the equipment being used and not be quick to blame the equipment so they don’t look bad if they screw up. When I went to law enforcement instructors training, I had to first demonstrate that I knew how to do the thing we were going to teach…then I learned how to teach it. I like that concept. (when I went to firearms instructors schools, the first day we had to qualify. If we didn't meet the standard, we went home and didn't become a teacher.)