Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership

Best Police Leadership Books

Erik Fritsvold, PhD

Erik Fritsvold, PhD

Academic Director, M.S. Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership

The countless responsibilities of leading a law enforcement agency or police department do not leave a ton of extra time to crack open a book. But as successful executives across all industries will tell you, there is a proven connection between reading and leading.

In addition to keeping up on the latest trends or discovering new perspectives on police work, reading can serve as an excellent stress reliever or even a source of inspiration.

Police Management and Leadership Books


Leadership for the Twenty-First Century

Author: Joseph C. Rost

Description: This illuminating study critiques the concept of leadership as understood in the last 75 years and looks to the 21st century for a reconstructed understanding of leadership in the post-industrial era. The book concludes with actionable leadership suggestions.






The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander

Author: Pete Blaber

Description: As a commander of Delta Force — the world’s most elite counter-terrorist organization — Pete Blaber took part in some of the most dangerous, controversial and significant military and political events of our time. In this book, he shares lessons learned from his experience.






It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

Author: Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

Description: When Capt. Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship.






Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Author: The Arbinger Institute

Description: Since its original publication in 2000, “Leadership and Self-Deception” has become a worldwide, word-of-mouth phenomenon. This latest edition draws on correspondence the authors have received from readers who have used its principles to improve their leadership skills.






It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

Author: Gen. Colin Powell

Description: Colin Powell, one of America’s most admired public figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir. Its message of strength and endurance is intended to help readers everywhere achieve a more fulfilling life and career.






Good to Great

Author: Jim Collins

Description: The author of “Built to Last,” the defining management study of the 1990s, Collins studies successful and unsuccessful businesses to shed new light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice in this 2001 best-seller.






The Leadership Challenge

Author: James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Description: A gold-standard manual for effective leadership, The Leadership Challenge” is grounded in research and written by premier authorities in the field. With deep insight into the complex interpersonal dynamics of the workplace, this book positions leadership both as a skill to be learned, and as a relationship that must be nurtured to reach its full potential. 





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Daring GreatlyUSD_LEPSL_Police_Leadership_Brown

Author: Brené Brown

Description: A New York Times best-seller from thought leader Brené Brown, this transformative vision for the way we live, love and lead emphasizes the power of vulnerability.






USD_LEPSL_Police_Leadership_David_O_BrownCalled to Rise

Author: Chief David O. Brown and Michelle Burford

Description: The Dallas police chief who inspired a nation with his response to the killing of five of his officers shares his personal story and his faith in America’s potential to unite communities through a dedication to transparency and trust.





USD_LEPSL_Police_Leadership_Strozzi_HecklerThe Leadership Dojo: Build Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader

Author: Richard Strozzi-Heckler

Description: History is filled with accounts of great leaders, but how did they become so? Written for emergent leaders in any endeavor, this work from renowned consultant Richard Strozzi-Heckler offers a new approach to leadership.






Man’s Search for Meaning

Author: Viktor Frankl

Description: Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. A Library of Congress survey that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life” found “Man’s Search for Meaning” among the 10 most influential books in America.






Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us All About the Business of Life

Author: James Kerr

Description: Best-selling author James Kerr goes deep into the heart of one of the world’s most successful sports teams, the legendary All Blacks of New Zealand, to reveal 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business.





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Lead … for God’s Sake!: A Parable for Finding the Heart of Leadership

Author: Todd Gongwer

Description: The lives of an intensely driven basketball coach, an ultra-successful CEO and an unassuming janitor intersect in this captivating parable about leadership, relationships and the pursuit of success. This unforgettable story will challenge you to think deeply about who you are as a leader, what success means to you and why you do what you do.






The Score Takes Care of Itself

Author: Bill Walsh

Description: Bill Walsh, a towering NFL figure whose leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise in sports to a legendary dynasty, shares his leadership philosophy in a series of interviews with bestselling author Steve Jamison.





Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible VoyageUSD_LEPSL_Police_Leadership_Lansing

Author: Alfred Lansing

Description: Leadership and heroism take center stage in this definitive account of the harrowing and miraculous 1914-15 voyage of legendary Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance.





USD_LEPSL_Police_Leadership_LowneyHeroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World

Author: Chris Lowney

Description: Author Chris Lowney reveals the leadership principles that have guided the Jesuits for more than 450 years: self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism. Lowney shows how these same principles can make each of us a dynamic leader in the 21st century.






Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times

Author: Donald T. Phillips

Description: What Abraham Lincoln did to become our most honored and revered president is history. “Lincoln on Leadership” is the first book to examine his diverse leadership abilities and how they can be applied to today’s complex world.






The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership

Author: Steven B. Sample

Description: In this offbeat approach to leadership, college president Steven B. Sample challenges many conventional teachings on the subject. He urges leaders to focus on some key counterintuitive truths, and offers down-to-earth, homespun and often provocative advice on complex and thoughtful issues.






Rising Through the Ranks: Leadership Tools and Techniques for Law Enforcement

Author: Mike Wynn

Description: Effective leadership is a journey, not a destination. Former Pittsfield, Mass., Police Chief Mike Wynn tells real stories of leadership and courage from police departments and investigative agencies.






The Desire to Serve: Servant Leadership for Fire and Emergency Services

Author: Eric Russell

Description: The author presents a leadership philosophy that applies the values of “agapao love,” humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment and service to the field of law enforcement and emergency services.





Police Leadership Reading List: One More Recommendation

For more reading material related to law enforcement life, education and professional development, check out the Law Enforcement Leadership blog published by the University of San Diego’s online Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership master’s degree program.

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