The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Four

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




Use the problem-solving process:  identify the nature and scope of the problem, seek a number of alternatives that will solve the problem, choose the best alternative, implement the chosen alternative, follow-up on its implementation (correct, if necessary, to make it better).  Too often we use our emotions or feelings to choose a course of action.  This principle encourages the use of data, figures, information and facts to drive that decision-making.  Soliciting input is not data – it is important but let’s not call it data.  You should know the data tools; how to gather data, how to show it graphically, and how to look at variation of data.  Let data do the talking.  When employees ask for new things or ways of doing things encourage them to use data to support their recommendations — not use of power (We have all decided that…) or use of feelings (You know this is the better way of doing that…).  Collecting data is using statistical tools to understand, bring into control and improve a process.  Using data will help our decision-making because we will be able to answer that extremely important question — How do we know this is true?


a. Can you think of instances when you have witnessed data being used instead of emotions to make a good decision?

b. Think of a problem that is confronting you now.  How can data be used to resolve that problem?  How could that data be visually portrayed?

c. When problems are presented to you, what are some data-related questions you can ask?

[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.

3 Responses to “The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Four”

  1. The problem with data is we collect it, but do not review it, make recommendations, and then carry them out: We just collect data for the sake of it. What is worse, is collecting the data and we make recommendations to our bosses and then they don’t do nothing about it or make their own decisions that is either emotional or driven by politics, or carry out the recommendations and then kill it halfway through it motions.

    Had a project where the high ranking bosses kill it and then 4 months later, they had asks what happen to it, and we had to informed them that they had shut it down. Many bosses have short attention span

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