4 December 2017

Swedish police chiefs lack social skills

A new study shows that Sweden’s police chiefs rank lower than both business and public sector managers in trust, tolerance and relationship-building qualities. The three properties are linked to people’s social skills.

“Social skills are important for well-functioning leadership. The fact that Sweden’s police chiefs have these shortcomings is serious,” says Dr Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén, investigator at NOA and one of the authors of the study.

Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén

Dr Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén, investigator at the Police’s National Operations Department and one of the authors of the study.

The study analyses the leadership skills of Sweden’s police chiefs based on 1756 responses from the three chief groups in the DNV-GL certified personality test JobMatch Talent, and demonstrates inadequacies in key social characteristics.

“All three qualities are important for leadership in general and for police leadership in particular. Without trust there is also no respect, a lack of tolerance leads to preconceptions and building relationships is essential for effective policing. Inadequate leadership is reflected in the daily work throughout the organisation. I would also like to point out that there are competent individuals and good leaders in the police force, this is about the organisation and leadership as a whole.

A previous study carried out in the spring based on the same analysis material also showed shortcomings in the work-related qualities of stress tolerance, internal drive and entrepreneurship. The results of the two reports can now be used by the police both in leadership development for existing managers and for finding candidates who possess the right qualities at recruitment.

“Together, they provide a complete picture of what needs to be improved and developed in the leadership of the police organisation, the next step is to start the improvement work. If the police aim to be an open and learning organisation that paves the way for commitment and initiative, leadership needs to reflect that,” says Dr Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén.

Ann-Christin Andersson Arntén is planning more studies on the police’s leadership. One of the goals is to develop a complete profile for what qualities a police officer should possess in order to perform effective, proactive and positive leadership.

Read the full study on the lack of social skills in Sweden’s police chiefs here 

Read more about the previous study here

Facts about the study

The study shows that Swedish police chiefs lack three important personal qualities related to social skills.


Lack of trust in their colleagues and employees makes it difficult to delegate responsibilities and duties, and at the same time leads to a need for control.


Lack of tolerance towards others leads to preconceptions and people with preconceptions often act from these, not least people in managerial positions.

“Both trust and tolerance are sources of respect. If you do not have respect for your employees as a manager, they will, in turn, not respect the citizens.”

Building relationships

If managers do not create relationships with their employees it can lead to isolated leadership without transparency, a factor that, according to Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén, is especially crucial in police organisations.

“The entire police profession actually hangs on building relationships. Sitting in a police car is not effective police work, on the other hand, walking around the streets and talking to people is, and when managers do not have contact with employees, this can be reflected by police in the field.”