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Value Centered Leadership

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Essay title: Value Centered Leadership

Work in most police departments today follows the philosophy of Frederick Winslow Taylor, who proposed that systemizing efficiency should be the primary focus of organizational managers. Writing in 1911 Taylor declared:

“In the past, man was first. In the future, the system will be first.”

Thus, Taylor’s “scientific management” system was launched, turning the worker into a mere gear in the system, a disposable human tool, a worker-for-hire, a wage slave. Unfortunately, Taylor’s “assembly-line” system dehumanized the worker and the culture of work, pitting employees against “management,” and the very organizations that employ them.

Taylor was also oblivious to another danger inherent in his system: it left ownership, control, and decision making (not to mention the distribution of profits) in the hands of a small elite of managers, time-study engineers and owners. His system offered once self-reliant workers higher wages in exchange for their loyalty to what many consider a modern form of feudalism. Most police organizations today still operate according to Taylor’s top-down vision of the workplace.

However, the era of “no more taxes,” advanced informational systems, and the paradigm shift from an emphasis on traditional policing to community policing, is forcing a basic change in how we view the role of the police officer and the nature of the organization and communities we serve. Police organizations must recognize that, for their own survival, they must find new, more flexible ways of rewarding and motivating their employees, while controlling costs, and delivering ever-higher levels of value to their customers (employees and citizens). They are realizing that the adversarial nature of the surrounding economic and cultural environment, a by-product of Taylor’s philosophy of work, and the inherent instability of the wage system impede these objectives. They are also coming to see that what is needed is a new way of thinking.

This new way of thinking would not reject the importance of systems, but would redesign systems to put customers (employees and citizens) first. It would create a new system of leadership that “rehumanizes” the organization. It would shift power, responsibility, and control over modern police procedures and advanced organizational systems from the few to all those affected by the process. The new system would combine principles of equity (justice and ownership) with principles of efficiency, in order to raise the performance of an organization and its employees to their highest potential, to better serve their customers and other stakeholders. Instead of tapping into the wisdom, knowledge and creativity of only the few, the new system would recognize the advantages of drawing out and combining the wisdom, knowledge and creativity of all stakeholders.

Some of the most progressive private sector firms have begun to implement successful new approaches for motivating workers, improving productivity and quality, facilitating changes, and maintaining continuity in their organization’s culture. A comprehensive approach suggested by this author is called "Value Centered Leadership (VCL),” an organizational philosophy and management system for police organizations, centered on the inherent value and dignity of every organizational member.

What is Value Centered Leadership?

Value Centered Leadership (VCL) is a customer-focused system built upon shared principles and core values, which is designed to instill an ownership culture within an organization. “Genuine leaders” who actively seek to empower others inspire VCL; it is developed and sustained from the ground-up.

Value Centered Leadership offers employees an opportunity to participate as first-class stakeholders in the organization’s change and growth process. Experience has shown that where reinforced by a VCL culture, employee’s become empowered to make better decisions, discipline their own behavior, and work together more effectively as a team. Because each person contributes, risks and shares as a leader, as well as an employee, VCL helps unite everyone’s self-interest around the department’s goals, objectives and organizational values.

Value Centered Leadership calls for a new philosophy of leadership. It holds that a genuine leader sees himself or herself as the ultimate public servant, facilitator, and a teacher. One who empowers others to realize their hidden potential, not one that rules by fear or refuses to be accountable to others.

A well-designed Value Centered Leadership system sharpens and crystallizes the leader’s philosophy

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