On Wednesday (16th September) I began a series of interviews for Maple Works in Surbiton. Our subject was the Kingston Metropolitan Police Service, our guests some of the top cops in the borough. Wednesday's first interview began at the top with a 90 min chat with the Borough Commander himself: Chief Superintendent Glenn Tunstall.
Considering the degree of historical and, I would say in 2015, completely misplaced hostility that still rears it's head against the Met it is a progressive and hugely useful exercise for Kingston MPS to undertake these talks. Our objective is to show the human face of these officers and support the process of Comms as Glenn put it. Comms meaning communication between the Police and the 55'000 citizens in Kingston that they serve. The point of these Comms is to connect the general public to the inner workings of the service that is there for them. Kingston MPS already have a very well supported Twitter Feed (@MPSKingston) as well as a presence on Facebook and a series of Periscope videos that allow citizens to come as close as possible to actually joining the Police in their work.
Leadership was a recurrent theme throughout my talk with Glenn (he refused to be referred to any more formally which seemed typical of the man) and we talked at length about what makes a good leader. This was particularly interesting for me as a Business Communications Coach. So much of what I do is about empowering people in business to discover the leader inside them. The first lesson in this is that Leadership is totally distinct from Management (as my good friend Marina Leal-Freitas will tell you!) Listening to Glenn talk about how he runs his station was a great insight into why. He told us how he doesn't use targets and statistics to drive performance, an example of goal management. Rather he asks his officers to buy into his vision of what Police work in Kingston should be and then to take pride in pursuing the realization of that vision, an example of genuine leadership.
The 90 minutes we spent talking was for me an extraordinary statement of how far the Met has come since the darker days of the 1980s. We might affectionately recall the good old 'clip round the earhole' as a bobby's proper way of dealing with anti-social behavior. But as Glenn vividly recalled when describing his first days on the job 27 years ago, a clip round the earhole all too frequently became a punch in the face. Today the level of social understanding and intelligent decision making in the Met is something we should all be thankful for. I truly believe that crime in 2015 is dealt with so much better than ever before and this is in no small part down to leaders like Glenn Tunstall. One of the most illuminating statistics of the evening was one relating to firearms in the Met. Of the 50,000+ people working in the Metropolitan Police Service just 24 are regularly armed. Given some of the gun related tragedies involving Police that have occurred in some other countries this year the fact that we carry so few arms should in my opinion be a cause for national pride. I was very grateful to Glenn for giving us his time and insight and I look forward eagerly to our next installment in October.
If you want to improve your face-to-face communication at work come and join me at one of my autumn taster workshops. This 1-hour introduction to my method of Communication Through Improvisation is perfect for HR Managers and professionals who want assess the suitability of my work for their company. It is also ideal for small businesses and individuals who want to improve their communication skills. Workshops are running at both Kingston Guildhall and The Digital Workhub in Walton-On-Thames. There are dates throughout the rest of the year. Please check out the Eventbrite page for these events or follow me on Twitter @SamDevCoach for all the latest details.