Robert Peel was born in England in 1788 into a family of entitlement. He entered Parliament at the age of 21. Over time, he was selected as the Prime Minister twice during a long career of public service.

In 19th Century England, there was opposition to creating a national police force. There was fear that such a police force would be used to suppress dissent. Added to this fear was the model of policing used in France, which had become secretive and political. The support for a national police force was an increasing level of violent protests.

Peel was Home Secretary at the time and introduced the concept of professional policing. His approach was one of “policing by consent”. He believed that authority came from the people and should not be imposed on them. He proposed nine principles of ethical policing. His principles were accepted and a national police force of “bobbies” was created in his honor.

The nine principles established by Robert Peel, when adapted, could well apply to the exercise of authority by management in modern organizations. These nine principles adapted for current use:

  • We need to create an engaged community of employees in support of our mission not a policy manual and continuous oversight.
  • We need to recognize that a manager’s ability to lead depends upon the approval of those under the manager’s direction.
  • A manager’s ability to govern depends upon the mutual respect of the manager and those under the manager’s direction.
  • Use of punitive actions would work to circumvent what the manager’s actions were originally intended to achieve.
  • All individuals needed to be treated fairly.
  • Reaching out to those being managed should be the preferred method for setting directions, not mandates.
  • A relationship needs to be established where the judgement of management and those being managed are in continual agreement.
  • Management should not appeal to higher authority to achieve a result they could not achieve by agreement with people they manage.
  • The absence of conflict should be the key to managerial effectiveness not punitive actions taken.

Authority ultimately rests with the people being governed, not by those in powerful positions. History has shown that to be true. Authoritarian control can only survive for so long.

The same is true in organizations of all types. Governance depends upon respect and consent, not policies and punitive enforcement. Authoritarian leadership is not a sustainable model.

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“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard (Author)

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