Bay Harbor has a midsized police department of around 70 officers, including two captains, four lieutenants, and a number of sergeants. It is among the most well-known police departments in the state, mainly due to its progressive chief, Bill Murray. He is so popular that when he took early retirement three months ago, he successfully ran for the position of mayor.
When Murray was chief, the department had a friendly and accessible image among the citizens. He encouraged informal interaction between department employees and the public, and he streamlined department procedures to cut down on bureaucracy and empower employees. All officers, especially his favorite ones, enjoyed considerable professional latitude under him. Murray, in return, was assured of their loyalty and commitment to the team. The department appeared to be well run, with high levels of employee satisfaction, but it was only moderately successful in controlling crime.
Murray’s designated successor, Chief Tim Johnson, came from nearby Meadow Pines, where there was a much smaller department of only 13 officers. Yet, under him, Meadow Pines had the lowest crime rate ever. He is known as a strong authority figure in Meadow Pines. He reinforces that image by involving himself in every departmental decision and implementing rules with an iron hand. He monitors his officers closely, and they have to seek his clearance for almost all actions, except those that arise in an emergency.
Like Murray, Johnson drove considerable policy changes as the chief of Meadow Pines; however, he rarely requested any employee feedback on the revisions. Generally, these policy changes were designed to increase supervisory control and formalize the department’s procedural guidelines. This resulted in a more bureaucratic structure. Although Johnson does not appear to be as popular as Murray was, he is respected by his subordinates and by the public for lowering his community’s crime rate.
Many members of the hiring committee believe that Chief Johnson’s stern nature will make Bay Harbor more efficient. Other members disagree and feel that his style of functioning might not work in a larger department. They also fear that citizen satisfaction with the department will decrease and that some of the more experienced officers may leave the Bay Harbor department because they do not like Johnson’s leadership style.
- Can the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory be used to describe the relationship that Murray and Johnson shared with their subordinates? Why or why not?
- What are the potential benefits and pitfalls of hiring someone with Chief Johnson’s style for the position at Bay Harbor? Why?
- What could be reasons for Chief Johnson’s lack of delegation? Which approach should he use to delegate and empower officers at Bay Harbor?
- Is participative leadership more effective depending on the size of the department? Why? How does Murray’s delegation and empowerment of his subordinates benefit a police department?
- What principles of dyadic relationships should Johnson use for correcting performance deficiencies at Bay Harbor? Why?
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