The Twelve Leadership Principles: Principle Two

During a twelve-day period of time, I will be posting daily one of the Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership followed by some questions you, as a leader, may wish to ask yourself.

Hopefully the description and inquiry will cause you to think about how you lead and what you may need to do to improve your leadership.

 And don’t forget to post some commentary. It can be a learning process for us all.

Welcome aboard!


Systems, Leadership, and Teams




A customer orientation and focus means that we listen to our customers.  Customers may be citizens, elected officials, employees, or interest groups.  As supervisors and managers our direct customers are our employees who provide service to their customers — the citizens and taxpayers.  Listening and being responsive to citizens is our goal.  There are, of course, a number of parameters — the law, ethics, and budgetary constraints.  In this new era of community policing listening to the customer is a vital part of the job.  It is a change.  Professionals today do not have the exclusive market anymore of knowing what is best for their patients, clients, or customers.  Today, people want to be heard and participate.


a. Who are your customers?

b. Who are persons in your organization who could consider you their customer?

c. How could you get honest feedback from your customers?

d. How could this make your job easier?

[From The New Quality Leadership Workbook, by Couper and Lobitz. To be published this year.]

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About improvingpolice

I served over 20 years as the chief of police in Madison (WI), four years as chief of the Burnsville (MN) Police Department, and before that as a police officer in Edina (MN) and the City of Minneapolis. I hold graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Edgewood College in Madison. I have written many articles over my years as a police leader calling for police improvement (for example, How To Rate Your Local Police, and with my wife, Sabine, Quality Policing: The Madison Experience). After retiring from the police department, I answered a call to ministry, attended seminary, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. At the present time, I serve a small church in North Lake (WI), east of Madison. Sabine and I have nine adult children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is also a retired police officer and we both continue active lives.

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