IBM helps train Raleigh Police Department leaders

cowens@newsobserver.comJune 11, 2013 

Motivated by handfuls of candy and some good-natured competition, about 50 members of the Raleigh Police Department gathered around conference tables at IBM on Tuesday to learn how to be leaders in a changing world.

The workshop was sponsored by an IBM service grant and was designed to show how any organization – even a police department – could benefit from creative leadership.

“The beauty about these service grants is the conversation starts within organizations,” said Tina Wilson, an IBM manager who helped coordinate the workshop. “This is why this is so invaluable, because they’re all around a table talking about this.”

Most of the attendees were lieutenants or the equivalent civilian manager rank, said Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. She said she thinks it is her responsibility to prepare these mid-level department members to be the force’s top ranks in the future.

Deck-Brown wants the department to take advantage of leadership training opportunities, including those some may see as atypical for a police force. Although a business and a police department have their obvious differences, they also have their similarities.

“A business model, at the end of the day, has set a goal,” Deck-Brown said. “Typically, it’s consumer-oriented. So is ours.”

As the attendees discussed work schedules, employee morale and channels of communication, they also collaborated to discover solutions. The atmosphere remained positive, and ideas for change accompanied every problem raised.

“It’s something everybody thinks about, but when we started talking about it, that’s where we all kind of came to,” said Lt. John Noble during his table’s discussion on balancing employee and community needs.

A tangible reward also motivated the workshop attendees. Whichever group could come up with the best innovative solution to a department challenge would receive lunch with the chief. The winner proposed a new process for the submission of ideas and suggestions from officers.

“The process would ensure that the original suggestion or suggestor would get a response from departmental leadership,” said police spokesman Jim Sughrue.

Although Deck-Brown had to leave mid-morning, she felt confident that the attending department members would return to their daily work with new ideas.

“IBM can stand on its own name,” she said. “What that does for our organization is show that we can learn from the best.”

Owens: 919-829-4567

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