Danger SignEd Claughton
August 2013

In a recent edition of The Records Room I mentioned an article about a failed police technology project in Pennsylvania in which the Chief displayed utter disregard for the concerns of his police officers.  Granted, maybe there’s more to the story than what’s in print but a leader should always put their employees first. It’s just another reminder of how important strong leadership is.

What happens where there is no leadership in the world of information technology management?

  • A new system or new computers are purchased and end up sitting around in an office somewhere collecting dust.
  • The wrong system or the wrong computers are purchased altogether.
  • What should cost $100,000 ends up costing $1,000,000.
  • What should only take about a year takes five.
  • Nothing works the way it should.

5 years.  That’s how long one agency I know allowed a new computerized scheduling and payroll system to sit around on the shelf.  Shameful.  Nearly $100,000 paid for a system which is already half way through its technological life and police officers on their day off are still having to be called on the phone one by one by a supervisor to work a shift when there’s a vacancy.  OT and leave slips are filled out and routed by hand- a process which delays payroll almost every time checks have to be cut, keeping the payroll clerk in a constant game of catch-up.

Copies of traffic crash reports can now be obtained online by the citizens and insurance companies who need them with the click of a mouse.  What does this have to do with leadership? Well how about the bureaucrat who doesn’t want to get the system even though it doesn’t cost the agency a dime because he just doesn’t feel “we’re ready to go there yet”.  Not good.

Why does this happen?  A few reasons include:

  • Sometimes people emotionally empower themselves by creating an environment in which they always appear to be needed for something. What’s really happening is they’re creating bureaucracy and punishing everyone else for their intentionally created backlog.
  • They’re insecure and as such constantly have to be the one in charge. They micromanage and fail to let their employees work.
  • They lack basic leadership skills.

Be a strong leader and make solid decisions without being afraid.  Seek input from your staff.  Involve them in the decision making process.  Show respect and be honest.  Be a leader.

See our list of leadership resources here.