A Qualitative Exploration Into the Transformational Leadership Styles of Senior Police Women

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“A qualitative exploration into the transformational leadership styles of senior police women”

Jacqueline Whittred
M.Sc. in Police Leadership and Management
Department of Criminology
University of Leicester
September 2008

The author would like to express her thanks to Dr Tammi Walker for her invaluable advice and guidance throughout the research process.

The author is also grateful to Liz Owsley of British Association for Women in Policing, Bedfordshire Police Networking Organisation for Women and also to Chief Superintendent Andy Street and Superintendent Mark Turner for being supportive and truly transformational, enabling this research to be conducted.

Overwhelming gratitude is owed to Nina Bradbury and Suzanne Albon for dedicating so many hours of their time to transcribing interviews, offering advice and opinion and unintentionally becoming experts in transformational leadership.

Finally the author is incredibly appreciative and thankful to the inspirational women that gave their time willingly and enthusiastically to participate in this research thereby adding to the research literature available in this subject.

A qualitative exploration into the transformational leadership styles of senior police women by Jacqueline Whittred

Radical organisational restructure has become necessary to enable the police organisation to provide a modern police service which is able to recognise and address the policing needs of a diverse nation. Transformational leadership has been identified as a vehicle able to effectively bring about the desired, long-term changes within the police organisation.

Current research suggests that women are particularly skilled and naturally employ transformational leadership styles and yet senior police women remain a minority within a minority.

This research qualitatively explores the transformational leadership styles of senior police women. More specifically this research explores how senior police women are doing leadership and how this correlates to transformational leadership, whether there is an emerging female advantage in the leadership domain, the barriers to progression due to the masculine police culture, the barriers to adopting a transformational leadership style presented by the police performance culture, and how senior police women are breaking down barriers through transformational leadership.

In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 senior police women of chief inspector rank and above. The results were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

The research findings provide evidence to suggest that complex gender constructions are at work within the police organisation which serve to discriminate against, present barriers to, and resist women’s progression through the police ranks.

The findings present evidence to illustrate the ways in which senior police women are using transformational leadership to break down these barriers and weaken gender-stereotypes. Senior police women are acting as agents of change and are moving the police organisation forward enabling it to respond to the diverse needs of the nation.


Chapter Page number

1. Introduction5

2. Literature Review9

3. Methodology25

4. Discussion33

i) Doing transformational leadership33

ii) Gender influence: the female advantage?37

iii) Police culture: barriers to progression45

iv) Police performance culture: a barrier to progression?62

v) The way forward: breaking barriers through66

transformational leadership

5. Conclusion77

6. Appendices81

i) Information sheet for participants82

ii) Consent form for participants84

iii) Semi-structured interview template86

7. Bibliography89...
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