SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens on leadership during the pandemic

Image of Police Commissioner Grant Stevens

South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens concedes the realisation that COVID-19 would become a global pandemic was “a bit of a holy s***” moment.

The Commissioner is the head of a 6,500 strong workforce and state coordinator in emergency situations, but how does this leader embrace the opportunity to guide a whole state, some 1.8 million people, through unparalleled challenges?

In the second episode of the University of Adelaide’s Levelling Up: Your Leadership Podcast, a relaxed and candid Grant Stevens shares his evolution from a lack-lustre school student with “no goal or ambition” to a passionate young police officer who would eventually become one of the most highly recognised and respected figures in the South Australian community.

As an alumnus of the University of Adelaide’s Transformative Leadership Program (TLP), Commissioner Stevens reflects on the “big influence” the program had on him as Deputy Police Commissioner, in preparation for the top job, and how what he learned helped him to lead through the pandemic.

What does it take to be a good leader?

Commissioner Stevens is emphatic about the pillars of strong leadership:

  • Set a clear direction for your organisation
  • Ensure your people understand the role they play in achieving the vision
  • Provide an environment that lets them do their job successfully
  • Be genuine – honesty, sincerity and a real interest in your people is critical
  • Communication – frank, transparent, timely and consistent engagement is paramount

“Your ability to provide strong leadership is significantly diminished if people don’t have confidence in you, or believe you, as a leader”, Commissioner Stevens says on the podcast.

The biggest take away?

The idea of standing on the balcony and looking down at the dance floor is one that has stayed with Commissioner Stevens since his time in the TLP.

He says an effective leader must rise above the frenzied activity and guide the direction of the bigger picture. All the while, trusting the dancers on the floor to execute the moves they’ve been trained to make. 

Subscribe and listen to Commissioner Stevens on Levelling Up: Your Leadership Podcast.

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