What Makes a Great Leader

Myron Hamm
Myron Hamm
Director of Corrections

I have had the pleasure of working with some outstanding officers in my tenure with the LVMPD. I am very proud when I see an officer move into the ranks of supervision. I have dealt with some really fine supervisors, and I truly believe that some have the best interest of their troops at heart. I have had the pleasure of watching officers go from troop to supervisor, and in some cases it has been an easy transition. Even back to my military days, I always felt that the best supervisors are those who learned through experience and have a vast knowledge of all areas in their chosen career path. 

Unfortunately, not all those people who are promoted have a clue or are ready to lead by example. I was once told by a group of officers that a soon-to-be-promoted individual walked into their work area and stated, “When I am promoted next week, I won’t have to do this stuff anymore.” Imagine what the officers felt, hearing those words. It is no mystery that some of these people who are promoted do so to avoid learning what it takes to perform their craft properly. Let’s be serious: There are some people who have been promoted and have never pushed a black-and-white (or at least pushed it well); there are people who have been promoted who have never worked a module, been in a fight or been the subject of a bunch of lies. But it’s funny that those people are the main ones telling you how your job should be accomplished. I have always believed that the people getting the most complaints filed against them are the ones who are truly on the front line. 

So what is the solution? I have seen supervisors yell at, demean and bully employees, but if the same employee does this to an inmate, then they can expect an SOC. I don’t mind telling you that I have seen lousy supervisors on both sides of the fence. I have seen lousy Corrections and Patrol supervisors; I have seen supervisors who cannot make a decision and are quick to lay the blame at the feet of a line officer. Unfortunately, the truly lousy ones seem to get promoted higher and higher. Every supervisor’s goal should be to foster a great relationship with their subordinates. But we know that some of these so-called leaders are only interested in their own agenda. I hear a lot of supervisors state that they are holding our feet to the fire. I find that statement to be funny, because who holds their feet to the fire? Supervisors are rarely disciplined to the same level as officers, and there have been instances when it is warranted, but I guess if you are the keeper of the flame, no one gets to hold your feet to the fire. 

I am not bashing all supervisors, because there are some truly good ones. Unfortunately, the bad ones do not want to hear that they could be wrong about something, because if you have made it all the way to captain, you can’t possibly be wrong about anything. I have no problem writing about what I feel is an injustice toward our line officers. As a supervisor, ask yourself how your people truly feel about you. If you don’t care, then that’s all I need to know about your lack of character. Just remember, stripes, bars and stars don’t make you liked or a great leader — what makes a great leader is caring about your people and listening to what their concerns are. As a wise man once said, “I don’t complain to hear myself talk; I complain hoping my leader will listen.”