Leadership in Police Organizations: Q&A with Certified Master Instructor Dave Mather

Dave Mather, Ed.D. is the newest Master Instructor in the Leadership in Police Organizations (LPO). Over the past two years, Dave has had the opportunity to work with leaders all over North America sharing the LPO program in agencies ranging in size from 3 to 3,000. Prior to facilitating the LPO course, Dave was the Executive Director of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, a grant-funded technology program funded by the Department of Justice. Dave began his law enforcement career in 1987 in Washington State working many assignments, including: dispatcher, officer, DARE officer, FTO, detective, sergeant, and leaving uniformed service as the Administrative Lieutenant. Dave attended the LPO course in Washington State and considers it the most personally transformational leadership course he ever took, telling participants he wished he had it much earlier in his career.

Why did you get involved in teaching this course?

When I first attended this course as a participant, it transformed the way I felt about my role as a leader. I had a pre-LPO and post-LPO leadership career, and most of my post-LPO career was spent trying to correct many of the mistakes I had made earlier in my career. This course transformed me – and I was excited about the possibility of sharing that opportunity with others in our profession so that they might avoid the same mistakes I had made. It’s an honor to be able to share this course with others.

Why do you feel that this course is important?Dave Mather Photo

Most of our leadership courses today are focused on management philosophies. This course is about leading people – building relationships, understanding what people value and why they respond the ways that they do. This information allows us to partner with the members of our organizations and encourage the full use of their talents to support organizational goals. We spend a great deal of time and money to hire the right people in our departments. It is a stressful career choice – but when you ask people in this profession, they tell you that what happens inside the organization is far more stressful than what happens on the street. This class gives both leader and follower the tools necessary to change that pattern.

As an instructor, what do you feel is the most valuable part of the course?

This course was the first course I attended that was filled with real, usable tools for leading others effectively. Many other courses are theoretical and the books ended up in my bookcase, the theories never put into practice. This course has a foundation in behavioral science and then it focuses on how to use the theories and strategies in real-world, day-to-day leadership situations. The applicability of what is taught to every day leadership behaviors is what makes this course different from other courses and what made it valuable to me.

What’s your favorite thing about instructing the course?

Sharing it with others. There’s something pretty incredible about getting to connect with the law enforcement professionals all over North America and sharing LPO. I stayed in close contact with the instructors who facilitated the course when I attended because their influence changed my career. Now as an instructor, I’ve also started many lifelong friendships with people in the classes who have been affected by this course and stay in contact with them.

What do you think is the most important thing for a participant to take away from the course?

The difference between having a leadership position and being an influential leader. Our organizations are filled with people who feel like their position makes them a leader. However, when we think about those leaders who have had the most positive influences in our lives, they build great relationships with the people they lead and encourage them to the greatest levels of productivity and accomplishment. This course is the foundation for being the kind of leader who makes a lifelong impact on those they lead.

What have you personally gained from instructing this course?

I’m blessed with one of the greatest jobs in law enforcement today. I continue to be a lifelong student of leadership. Traveling and teaching LPO provides me with an amazing insight into how incredible the law enforcement profession really is and the consistently high caliber of leaders at every level of those agencies we work with. Our profession is virtually the same all over North America; we struggle with many of the same issues, just to varying degrees. As an instructor, I’ve had the honor of meeting some of the greatest leaders in law enforcement all over the country and I continue to learn from them.

Do you feel that this course could extend beyond just the law enforcement career of the participant?

Absolutely! This course is based on influencing individuals by building quality relationships with others. This course would have applicability in any leadership position, and frankly has applicability wherever you have relationships. This course had an influence on my marriage and family, my relationships with friends and coworkers, and how I lived my life. It truly is a transformational course that is much bigger than just being a better leader, it’s about being a better person.

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