Change management in a police organisation

This essay will analyse a change management situation in a police organisation, namely Strathclyde Police and will compare two approaches to leadership which could be used in the situation and select a suitable approach, drawing a reasoned conclusion on why it is likely to be effective in the situation. The two approaches to leadership under examination will be The Traits Approach and the Contingency Approach.

It will select two different inter-personal skills, namely influencing and negotiating, which a leader could use and draw conclusions on how each skill could contribute to the effectiveness of a leader. Finally this essay will use relevant concepts to analyse the role of a leader and suggest and justify actions which a leader could take to ensure all aspects of change are effectively implemented, in doing so this essay will look at such methods as change implementers, Force Field Analysis and PESTEL analysis.

Firstly, we must answer the question, what is the difference between leaders and managers?

“The leader is followed. The manager rules”

The Difference between Management and Leaders (online)

Available at (accessed April 2010)

This is a very simplistic definition that portrays an image of a leader making a stand and being followed, through choice by his subordinates or fellow workers whereas with management, subordinates have no choice but to follow him.

Kotter (1990) argued that managers and leaders each have three main tasks but they undertake and complete them in entirely different ways. These tasks are: deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of people and relationships that can accomplish the agenda and trying to ensure that people actually do the job. However, Kotter goes on to say that managers and leaders deal with these tasks differently.

Zaleznik (1977) thereafter identified 4 areas which followed on from Kotters ideas whereby managers and leaders differed. They are as follows; attitudes towards goals, conceptions of work, relations with others and senses of self, leaders when compared to managers appear to adopt a more personal role.

Prentice (1961) stated

“Leaders achieve goals through their understanding of their fellow workers and their relationships of their individual goals to the groups aim.”

It should also be noted that managers can be leaders and vice versa.


There are a number of approaches to leadership and this essay will focus on the Contingency Approach and the Traits Approach.

The Contingency approach was a continuation of Tannenbaum and Schmidts Continuum of Leadership. It believed that there was not one single style of leadership which was appropriate for every situation a leader could face. Instead the contingency Approach argued that good leadership was dependant upon the situation at hand.

The Contingency Theory is to analyse the situation you currently face and select the most appropriate style to deal with the circumstances. This will require the leader to adjust their managerial style with every situation they face. In a policing sense, no two situations faced by a leader will ever be identical and as such no two solutions will be the same. Therefore, a leader within the police service must be able to be fluid in his approach and be able to take cognisance of the situation at hand and be willing to change to deal with it. Situations and circumstances faced by police officers are also ever changing; a solution which was possible one minute earlier may no longer be suitable.

Fiedlers (1967) argued that the behaviour of leaders rested on three main factors, known as Fiedlers Contingency model. The factors were;

Leader – Member relations, this involves the amount of trust between the leader and subordinate and how far team members were willing to follow their leader.

Task Structure – this covers the extent to which the task is clearly defined and whether there are standard procedures for carrying out the task and the power of the leader – for example the power of the leader within the organisation and how they could influence team members.

Another mode of the Contingency Theory is Situational Leadership by Hersey and Blanchard (1988) in this form, leadership style takes cognisance of the extent team members are ready to perform a task. There are 4 levels of “readiness” named R1, R2, R3 and R4.

In a policing environment, the follower in R1 could be described as a probationer whereby the follower is unable or unwilling or unable and insecure to follow the task, R2 could be a less competent police officer who is wiling to carryout the task and confident in doing so but is unable to carry it out to the required standard, R3 could be the police officer who is able but unwilling or able but insecure, who perhaps lacks confidence in his own ability, whereas R4 is able, willing and confident in carrying out the task and could be described in a policing term as “a senior man figure”.

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Willingness refers to the followers commitment and motivation whereas as insecurity refers to team members who lack confidence in their ability. Hersey and Blanchard state there are two dimensions of leader behaviour, one of which denotes the amount of direction given by the leader to the followers, the other is how much support they offer their followers. There are four leadership styles derived from this which are S1, S2, S3 and S4.

S1 is telling or directing – little support is offered by the leader but he does offer a great deal of advice and direction.

S2 is selling or coaching whereby the leader displays a lot of directing and supporting behaviour as well as support by telling followers what to do and offering them support and encouragement.

S3 – participating or supporting, the leader gives little direction but offers a lot of encouragement and support by way of communication with team members.

S4 – delegating, the leader does little in the way of supporting or directing.

Different people will react differently to different forms of leadership, and a leader should tailor his style to the individual person he is directing.

The Traits Approach argues that there are specific qualities associated with Leadership, whereby leaders can be differentiated from others by the possession of specific characteristics or traits. It is based on the assumption that leaders are born and not made and therefore you can not learn to be a leader but are born with these traits. Many people have attempted to conjure up a definitive list of personal qualities or traits that these great leaders possess. Typical traits include self-confidence, initiative, enthusiasm, integrity, decisiveness, judgement and imagination.

The problem with the Traits approach is that it proved impossible to come up with a definite set of traits that could be applied to leadership. It also became apparent in research that successful leaders often had different personalities and traits. As a result of these short comings the Traits Approach fell into disfavour, however, the idea of successful leaders possessing certain qualities is still in survival.


Successful and effective leaders and managers require a range of interpersonal skills. Two particular aspects of inter-personal skills are Influencing – trying to get someone to do or think something that they might not have ordinarily done and negotiating – making a bargain with others to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome. This essay will look at these two skills in more detail and draw conclusions on how these skills could contribute to the effectiveness of a leader. It should be noted that these two skills overlap each other however this essay will deal with them as separate entities.

Influencing can be said to be the critical skill hat a leader must possess. Influencing is the process in which one person gets another person to do something.

There are methods which a leader can use to exert influence, these are known as influence strategies, and there are 6 different ways of classifying influencing strategies

Reason, assertion, exchange, courting favour, partnership and coercion.

Within a policing environment Reason is probably used most often, whereby using reasoned and logical arguments to convince someone to act or think in accordance with the influencer. Another less positive action used within the police service would be coercion which is using or threatening to use some kind of sanction, either a positive or negative sanction.

An example of this would be when Strathclyde police wished to implement a new shift system known as VSA, there was a lot of unhappiness and a refusal to change. As such Strathclyde officers were informed if they did not agree to VSA they would be put back on a very old shift pattern of 7 earlies, 7 lates and 7 nights which was worse than the proposed VSA, as such the Strathclyde officers reluctantly accepted the VSA shifts. Of the 6 influencing strategies all of them except coercion would be classed as pull strategies which mean that they aim to persuade or pull the other party into accepting what the influencer wants. Coercion is a push strategy which means pushing the other party into accepting.

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The second inter-personal skill we will look at is negotiating. Negotiating is a process of bargaining, the end result is where all the parties involved come to an agreement.

Negotiating is a way of resolving differences between people of which there are two factors which can have a considerable effect on negotiations these are, the stages in the negotiating process and negotiating behaviours.

The ideal outcome in any negotiation is “Win – Win” this is where both parties win from the negotiations. However there is also “Win – Lose” whereby one party loses and “lose – lose” where both parties are worse off than before they started. There may be situations when the result is a “Lose – Lose” situation where to reach an agreement both parties must compromise and give something up

Fisher and Ury (1981) came up with a method called BATNA which stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. BATNA is where a leader chooses not to negotiate if the outcome was to lead to a less favourable outcome than they had hoped for or accept an outcome they feel is unsatisfactory.

There are four main processes of negotiation and they aim for a “Win – Win” outcome, these are; preparation, opening phase, getting movement to reach agreement and closing the negotiation.

Good negotiators must also adopt behaviours which aid and help negotiations and lose traits which may hinder them. Good negotiators are clear on what they want to achieve and of the final outcome, they are flexible and not tied to one particular outcome and will consider other outcomes and ideas and they work towards a “Win – Win” situation.

In a policing sense, negotiations take place between the Police Federation in an internal and external fashion, an external negotiation could be with the Government or an internal negotiations could take place between the Police Federation and Senior Officers.

Managers or leaders on a shift may have to negotiate with leaders of other shifts in the same office in order to look after their own staff, an example of this is a local agreement between supervisors that officers attending at work to go to court on their day off get to go home if the shift on duty has adequate numbers and it is not overly busy on their return from court. This is a “Win – Win” situation for all involved. Another example of successful negotiations is CID officers allowing uniformed officers to borrow their unmarked police vehicles when they have spares and all marked cars are being used on the proviso that uniformed officers wash the unmarked CID cars on a Sunday early shift!


All organisations have to respond to changes in society, changes in government and changes within society, the police service is no different.

Richard Daft (1993) defines organisational change as

“The adoption of a new idea or behaviour by an organisation”

it can also be describes as “Closing the gap”, moving an organisation from its original state to a desired future state because there is a gap between where the organisation is at the moment and where it wants to be and change is needed to fill this gap.

Kanter et al (1992) said that different people play different roles in organisational change. There are three different type of people; change strategists or initiators, those who initiate change and set direction for it, these people are normally leaders, there are change implementers – those who co-ordinate and carry out the change and are normally managers and change recipients – those affected by the change.

Organisational change can take place on both a large scale and small scale. Senior (2002) identifies four main types of change; Fine tuning – where minor changes are made to ongoing processes, incremental change – this involves small scale modifications such as introducing new technology, an example of an incremental change in the police could be the addition of AIRWAVE, modular transformation is a major change centred on one or more departments or divisions such as the recent transformation in Strathclyde police where Divisions and Sub divisions were reshuffled which done away with E and C division and created new sub-divisions throughout the force to bring the beats and sub divisions in line with local council wards, and finally Corporate Transformation which involves a change in the whole organisation, perhaps the appointment of a new Chief Constable to a force or in Strathclyde police the creation of the Major Crime and Terrorism Investigation Unit as a direct response to the Glasgow airport terror incident.

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There are different levels of change within an organisation, it can occur at individual, group or the whole organisation. The higher the level of change the harder and longer it will take to implement.

Force Field Analysis and was devised in the 1950s by Kurt Lewin and is a technique used far analysing internal and external pressures that can influence any organisational change. It takes cognisance of both forces which may promote change and those which may oppose change. It is more often used in large scale transformative change. The idea of Force Field Analysis is that there will be forces for and against change. Where these forces are equal there will be no change in the organisation. This is called equilibrium. However, change will take place when the driving forces exceed the resisting forces.

The advantages of Force field analysis are; it helps to identify all the forces that impact change, it highlights the fact that some forces may be stronger than others, it helps access whether or not an organisation is ready for change, it can be a quick and simple way of assessing whether a suggested change would be a success and it can be used as a guide to action.

The disadvantages are it is subjective and it relies on who carries out the force filed analysis, it can be imprecise as the strength of a force can not be accurately judged and it is a snap shot at a point of time and by the time it is implemented it can be out of date.

External forces which could lead to an organisational change can be identified using a PESTEL analysis which takes into account the following factors, Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, technological, Environmental and Legal, however, no such analysis tool exists for internal forces.

There can be a lot of resistance to change, the 4 main reasons are; parochial self – interest, misunderstanding or lack of trust, different assessments and low tolerance to change. In a policing organisation the biggest resistance could be parochial self interest which means that people resist change as they believe that their position could be at threat and that they will lose out, another example would be misunderstanding or lack of trust, subordinates in the police can be very wary of senior management and may distrust or misunderstand the reasons for change. This can be as a result of a lack of communication between the parties involved. However such resistance can be overcome by education and communication and participation and involvement to name but a few.


To conclude, I feel that the traits approach to leadership is not very valid and suggests that a leader is born and does not learn how to become a leader, the qualities associated with the traits approach are very much needed by a manger in order to lead so there is some benefit to this approach. The contingency approach shows us that not one single style of leadership will suit every situation and that you must be able and willing to change. Situational leadership goes on to show that a leader must also be aware of the skills his officers possess and tailor the advice he offers them to their level, some officers may require more help and guidance than others and a leader must be aware of this.

Both influencing and negotiating are vital interpersonal skills for any leader to have but both can be used for negative reasons such as influencing and negotiating another to accept a deal which is unfair to them and a leader must try and not fall into this trap.

In order for any organisation to succeed in the future it must move to close any gaps a good tool for any leader to utilise when “closing the gap” is force field analysis there can be resistance to change but there are many ways in which a leader can move to remove this resistance with the use of education, involvement negotiation and agreement.

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