When Andrew Colvin joined the police 25 years ago, he never imagined one day he would be leading the entire organisation. As a constable fresh out of college, his main concern was doing a good job and serving the community. Now Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, these values have steered him through many past roles in international policing, and continue to define his leadership style.
“I joined the police in 1990 and I think, like everybody else who joins the police, you never have aspirations beyond wanting to do a great job and enjoying the challenge,” Andrew says.
“Like many people, I joined because I was interested and attracted to the operational nature of policing, and that it was different each and every day. In the past 25 years, I’ve been fortunate to have been given a very broad array of opportunities. The main focus of my career has been around international policing, but with a heavy emphasis on national crime issues like terrorism, money laundering, and organised crime.”
Andrew says his leadership style has been and continues to be influenced by both the people who have surrounded him in the force and the different environments he has worked in. He believes leadership is largely about being flexible and adaptable to changing environments and situations. “I’ve been fortunate, and I have had many opportunities to learn about leadership from others throughout my career. You learn the positive and the negative, and you take that away from each of them. But I think, more than anything, my leadership style is really based on the environment that I find myself in.
“Leadership is very contextual. What works for one person may not work for another, and what works in one environment may not work in a different environment. I am focused on continual improvement, consensus building, and making sure that there is integrity and transparency in what we do as an organisation. I also try to ensure that AFP members can have trust and confidence that what I say is what I will do. Leaders need to be accountable for their actions.”