Investing in yourself: Success strategies for women officers

Women officers who have set clear goals, effectively managed risk and invested wisely in themselves will be in the best positions to seize new opportunities and make positive, lasting changes in their organizations and their communities

Your career can be like the stock market — both can be highly volatile and unpredictable places. Financial experts tell us to have clear goals and sound investment strategies focused on diversity, risk management and investing for the long term. As a female officer, consider applying the same logic to your career, training and professional development.

When the stock market undergoes a market correction, savvy investors buy. They buy based on potential for future gains and growth. Applying that same logic to the law enforcement industry, one could successfully argue that it, too, has recently experienced a correction. The past year has been a difficult and transitional time. 

Recent events have only served to highlight the critical need for agencies to embrace diversity. Traditional police models are being challenged and newer, more progressive models implemented. These models emphasize communication, collaboration and cooperation — three things most women tend to do exceptionally well. This will create leadership opportunities for women who have invested wisely in themselves and have a solid plan of action.

Investing Long-term
In the world of finance, stocks, bonds and mutual funds are the primary means of currency. In law enforcement, training, education and experience serve that purpose. Invest for the long term. Do not subscribe to the notion that all training is good training — it most certainly is not. 

Seek out and invest in “blue chip” training. Select established, high quality, reputable training sources and collateral duties/experiences — even if you have to donate time or pay for them yourself. Choose training and developmental experiences that challenge you, that present the most potential for meaningful gains and that push you outside your comfort zone. 

Do not overlook opportunities to train the hard skills (firearms, DT, tactics, etc.) as well, as those can be some of the most challenging for women. Select training and developmental opportunities that provide high yield returns.

Managing Risk
Make time for critical reflection to ensure that your core values align with those of your agency. If not, why not? What — if anything — can be done about it? 

Ensure that you are being authentic in your leadership. Seek high quality feedback mechanisms (climate surveys, 360 degree surveys) and carefully consider and apply constructive criticism. Take great care to maintain a strong ethical base and ethical decision-making process. As a leader and role model, your integrity is your gold standard. 

Setting Goals
Research is clear that people who take the time to carefully consider their goals and reduce them to writing are far more likely to accomplish them. This holds true for leaders and followers alike. Make a priority of developing your subordinates by investing wisely in their training and development, but also make time to invest in and develop yourself. 

The increasing need for diversity in command staff will create opportunities. Women officers who have set clear goals, effectively managed risk and invested wisely in themselves — their training, education and career development — will be in the best positions to seize those opportunities and make positive, lasting changes in their organizations and their communities. 

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