Of the many reasons to pursue a career in law enforcement, the ability to achieve more is undoubtedly at the top. While it is true that not all police officers will wish to advance to the level of chief of police, the opportunities are there for those with the ambition to do so. As with all career advancement opportunities, ambition is only step one.
There are many things you can do in order to make yourself a more viable candidate for higher positions in law enforcement. These things should all be geared towards equipping you with the necessary skills and abilities needed for the job. If you aspire to achieve more in your career in law enforcement, here are a few things that could help you along your path.
Earn an Advanced Degree
When it comes to any job in law enforcement, the ability and desire to continue your education is a must. As technology and science related to law enforcement practices continue to develop — not to mention our understanding of human nature in general — so should your knowledge base in respect to these subjects.
If you are hoping to advance in your law enforcement career in particular, there are a number of degree options available to you that can help you in this pursuit. Such degrees, like the one offered by Wilfrid Laurier for instance, are designed specifically with practicing law enforcement officers in mind.
The experience you already possess from your time in the field will be a positive contributing factor in your education with such degree programs. Furthermore, by earning a degree of this nature, you demonstrate to your superiors that your goal is to achieve more.
Develop Your Leadership Abilities
Anyone who seeks to reach their full potential in the world of law enforcement must first demonstrate a high level of leadership. As you advance in your career, you will be given more responsibility in terms of authority over other officers. Such positions won’t be a good fit for anyone who isn’t capable of leading other officers who will be under their command.
There are so many factors that go into being a good leader in a professional environment. Not only will you need to develop your communication skills, but it is also important that you hold yourself to a higher standard in terms of performance and integrity. Those who fail to do these things won’t be able to easily secure the respect of their peers, not to mention that of any future subordinates.
There is a common workplace cliché that says, “dress for the job you have, not the job you want.” The idea is that in doing so you give all who see you a visual example of what your goals are in your career. The same concept can be applied to leadership if you hope to one day achieve more in your career. Tailor your behavior to the job you want; don’t just coast by in the job you have. In other words, don’t wait for a promotion to begin demonstrating your leadership abilities.
Improve Your Self-Awareness
Another characteristic that those who are high up in the ranks of law enforcement share with those who have advanced their careers in other professional industries is that of self-awareness. When you are self-aware, you are able to honestly analyze your own shortcomings in a constructive way. You are also able to recognize your strengths and utilize them to the best of your ability.
An eagerness to constantly learn and develop is important, but it can come to nothing if you aren’t familiar with the areas where you need to expand your knowledge base. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by ignoring your weaknesses or downplaying them to others. It is far better to understand those areas where you might fall short so that you can take steps to correct them and improve.
Self-awareness also comes into play during your interactions with those around you. It is very important to have a good understanding of how you are portraying yourself to others. Are you holding yourself with dignity? Do you treat those around you with the respect that they deserve? Becoming more self-aware when it comes to the way you communicate with your peers will help you to make corrections where necessary.
Be Open to Criticism
It can be a difficult thing to hear criticism about your job performance. Nonetheless, constructive criticism is one of the ways in which you can grow in your career. Even those who are incredibly self-aware might not be able to be entirely and honestly critical with themselves on certain matters. This is where the constructive criticism of others can come in handy.
The first thing to realize is that criticism of this nature is not intended to be personal when it comes to your job performance. In fact, your superior would be doing both you and the rest of your team a disservice by holding back in this area. Once you are able to set aside any feelings of personal injury, you will be able to see constructive criticism for what it is: an opportunity to improve.
You might very well find yourself seeking out constructive criticism from your superiors. This could be a good way of showing that you take such feedback seriously and that you are the type of individual who is always looking for ways to grow professionally. You can think of such instances as opportunities to show those above you that you take your job seriously and that you are interested in growing in your role as a law enforcement officer.
It might also be advisable to seek constructive criticism from your peers as well. These are the individuals who are in the field with you on a regular basis and who see how your work firsthand. Feedback from a trusted colleague whom you trust can offer a deeper insight into your strengths and weaknesses on the job.