Legacy Keepers in Blue: Retired Chiefs Are Empowering Next-Gen Police Leadership as Their Professional Coaches

Retired police chiefs are becoming increasingly valuable as they assume the role of professional coaches to guide the next generation of law enforcement.

DC Business Times

As police recruitment declines and critical incidents increase in communities of all sizes, retired police chiefs are becoming increasingly valuable. They are now stepping in as coaches to guide the next generation of police chiefs, shaping the future of law enforcement leadership. Each day, police officers face critical incidents and job-related stressors, profoundly affecting their personal and professional lives. Despite the pervasive impact, some hesitate to openly address these challenges, fearing stigmatization and labeling. Many of these same officers will become the police chiefs and sheriffs of the future. Through a new program, which is a partnership of nonprofit Police2Peace, Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching®, and Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, these future police leaders are now getting the guidance they need from experienced chiefs.

Called “Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching® for Police Leaders,” this new program is bolstering policing’s up-and-comers with professionally-trained, police-chief coaches. The program aims to provide coaching to the number two position in police departments, as they may need to step in as leaders in the absence of the chief or sheriff on a moment’s notice. Of particular interest to currently serving police chiefs and sheriffs as well as their city and county managers, the program also addresses the crucial responsibility of every police leader in America for succession planning.

“It gives me great confidence for policing in America to see these chiefs as Stakeholder Centered Coaches. Their character and demonstrated skills were impeccable.” said Dr. Frank Wagner, a founding member of The Marshall Goldsmith Group who oversaw the training and certification of coaches in the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching® practice for more than 30 years.

Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching® for Police Leaders is the first in the series of Transformational Programs for Police Leaders. The program is novel in its focus on coaching rather than mentoring, and its alignment with the concept of what the group calls “rightful policing.”

Nearly ubiquitous in private sector companies, professional coaching is all but unheard of in policing. This may be due to the fact that coaching, as opposed to informal mentoring, is a very specific process which can strain personal relationships and friendships when it’s done among friends or co-workers. With a trained, outside coach who has also walked in their shoes, these up-and-coming police leaders benefit from a coach who has an objective view of their performance. In the same way professional athletes have coaches, these police leaders will focus on aspects of the performance they’re trying to improve. Coaching, rather than just mentoring, will be used to improve performance and prepare new officers for leadership positions.

The program is also rooted in what the group calls, “rightful policing”, or policing which is effective, empathetic, and just. This twist on traditional coaching highlights the importance of building—or in some cases rebuilding—public trust and confidence in policing. It is also rooted in stakeholder-centered coaching, pioneered by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith as the gold standard of professional coaching. This emphasizes the importance of serving a community’s stakeholders, most notably for American policing, its community members.

“If every soon-to-be chief had a coach, framed around this mindset we would see a quantum leap forward in the level of trust and confidence people have in the police,” said Chief Jim Bueermann (ret.), president of the Future Policing Institute, past president of National Policing Foundation now the National Policing Institute based in Washington, DC and the former Chief of Police of Redlands, CA. “Investing in leadership coaches for police chiefs and their seconds could pay off big for public trust,” continued Bueermann.

Police2Peace is a national nonprofit organization which is bridging the gap between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve by implementing positive changes in policing practices. Through transformational programs designed to bring about agency culture change for police and sheriffs using the framework of police officers as “peace officers,” Police2Peace fosters trust, understanding, and cooperation between police officers and community members through multiple, innovative initiatives. Marshall Goldsmith is a world-renowned CEO coach and catalyst for leadership excellence who has been guiding top executives to peak performance and organizational success for the last 40 years. Established in 1987, Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching® is the culmination of decades of research and development with more than 250,000 individuals from the world’s top organizations. It focuses on changing leader behavior by getting feedback from those they work with (stakeholders) and uses this feedback to set goals, track progress, and ensure positive change for both the leader and their team. Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Agency is a curated group of the world’s most experienced coaches and advisors dedicated to finding solutions to business challenges. Together, these organizations are emerging as a pivotal resource in succession planning for police departments.

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