The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Twelve

This is the last of twelve posts about the Twelve  Principles of Leadership. On each of twelve days, a principle of leadership has been posted.

You are invited to comment on them.

Hopefully, they have helped you think about leadership and your role and function as a leader in your organization.

Tomorrow we will put them all together.


Systems, Leadership, and Teams




How do we develop respect and trust in the workplace?  One of the keys is to do unto others as you would have them to do to you.  People want to be respected and trusted.  Bosses who show respect and trust have respected and trusted employees.  We must come to the workplace with the basic belief that our employees deserve respect and can be trusted — that’s why we hired them in the first place.  For example, when checking out a complaint regarding an employee there are ways to do it which may not compromise the respect and trust of the individual involved.  In many cases, our attitudes have a more lasting impact than our words or the processes we use.  Our employees have a right to know what’s going on, when the process has been completed and what our findings are.  In every case, except those in which a serious, dismissible offense has occurred, we want to correct and rehabilitate employees and get them back to duty.  We must all be committed to driving fear out of our workplace.


a. What would be a first step we all could do to increase trust in our workplaces?

b. How would your employees know you respected and trusted them?

c. How can you assure accountability to the public and maintain our integrity without creating fear?

d. What are the goals of a disciplinary system?  Does your current system meet these goals?  If not, why? And what can be done?

e. Are there other ways or systems you could use to achieve the above goals?  What are they?  How could you use them?

[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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