Leadership in Criminal Justice

Leadership is a necessary component of any organization to include a criminal justice organization. In recent years, research has clearly indicated that leadership must be present in criminal justice organizations for a multitude of reasons. Leaders provide motivation and inspire their followers to progress while advancing toward a shared vision. This paper will discuss several different aspects of leadership and expand on the importance of having strong leaders in place. This paper will explain that there are different styles and theories of leadership which are utilized today.

Basic principles of leadership as well as the role of a leader will be discussed in detail along with explanations as to why leadership is crucial in criminal justice organizations. Leadership in Criminal Justice Leadership in any organization is directly related to the overall success that organization can expect to see. Leadership in criminal justice is certainly no exception. Having strong leaders in place promotes organization, management, productivity, motivation and creativity in a criminal justice setting.

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Moral, productivity, and the overall success of a criminal justice agency are a few of the things commonly affected by lack of leadership. This paper will explain the importance of leadership in a criminal justice organization by responding to the following questions: 1. What is leadership? 2. What are leadership theories and styles? 3. How does leadership differ from management? 4. Why is leadership important in criminal justice? What is leadership? Leadership can be defined as a process that helps direct and mobilize people

and their ideas (Stojkovic, Klofas & Kalinich, 2012). Leadership requires that a person have a strong desire to be an influential part of the organization and want to play a key role in moving towards a common goal.

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Leaders are primarily concerned with motivating and inspiring their followers to remain productive and to maintain the drive and ability to reach organization goals. A leader must a have an organizational vision and be able to inspire and motivate others to buy into that vision and work towards achieving the goals related to that vision.

The role of a leader in a criminal justice organization should not be under appreciated. A leader plays has an immensely influential role within the organization. First, leaders must have a strong working knowledge in the assignment they wish to lead. This can be developed through education, training, and experience. Leaders must have the respect of those they wish to lead in order to be effective. One way that leaders can earn that respect is by possessing the skills needed to be in a leadership position. Secondly, a leader must know themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Many leaders in law enforcement find it easy to know their business, but find it difficult to know themselves (Dobbs & Field, 1993). Leaders must realize their strengths and weakness in order to develop their own style of leadership. Leaders who act outside their natural style of leadership can cause themselves to appear awkward and ultimately affect their ability to lead. Third, a criminal justice leader must know their subordinates. Due to the fact that people are motivated my different things, a leader must realize what motivates each subordinate individually.

Also, a leader must have a personal relationship with the subordinate as well. For example, a leader must know his employee well enough to congratulate or give condolences in personal matters when appropriate. This will remind the subordinate that the leader cares about their personal achievements and struggles as well. Finally, a leader must operate with consistency and lead by example. For example, a criminal justice leader who punishes a subordinate for poor report writing when they themselves write poor reports will create a lack of respect for that leader.

This is due to the fact that the leader does not lead by example. A leader must exemplify the ideals they demand in order for their follows to truly want to follow their lead. What are some of the theories and styles of leadership? There are many theories about different aspects of leadership and the effectiveness of each in a criminal justice setting. Contemporary research brings into focus the behavioral approach and the contingency approach. The behavioral approach emphasizes the behavior of leaders while the contingency approach emphasizes situational variables that affect leadership.

We find in the behavioral approach an emphasis on how leaders interact with their subordinates as well as how a leader creates processes that encourage subordinates to be productive and accomplish the goals of the agency. The behavioral approach is concerned with whether or not the subordinates feel that their leader makes them feel like a valued member of the agency and if their opinions carry any weight in the day to day operation of the agency. The contingency approach, founded in the 1970’s differs from the behavioral approach.

“Examining various situational variables is central to understanding leadership in organizations, according to the contingency theorist” (Stojkovic, Klofas & Kalinich, 2012). Fiedler’s Contingency Model is one of those contingency theories. In Fiedler’s model we find that how well liked or disliked by subordinates a leader is, will have a direct impact on how effective that leader will be. For example, a detective supervisor who is not well liked might have a hard time finding volunteers to work overtime at their request.

In contrast, a well like supervisor might have no problem getting volunteers in the same situation. The subordinates in this example might base their decision on nothing more than who is asking. Also in Fiedler’s Model, we find that uncertain task structures can be problematic to leadership. For example, if officers are instructed by their supervisor to go out and make some arrests and not given any further details on the assignment, they are left not understanding the true goal of the assignment.

In this example, a leader would gain better results from an assignment if their subordinates knew the true purpose of the assignment and were aware that there would be measurable results. “It is easier to lead when the task structure is clearly defined and open to direct monitoring by a supervisor (Stojkovic, Klofas & Kalinich, 2012). There are many different styles of leadership that one can utilize in an organization. The three that are the most commonly applied to the criminal justice profession include: the autocratic, democratic, and the

laissez-faire styles of leadership. It is important for a leader to stick with a style that best fits their personality, but at times and depending on the circumstances facing them at any given time, they might switch back and forth from on style to another. The style of leadership one elects to utilize largely depends on what that leader wishes to accomplish (Lynch, 1998). The autocratic leader is authoritarian in nature. An autocratic leader would rather give orders and make all the decisions while gathering little or no input from others.

Many times this does not provide the best of environments for subordinates to grow confident in making their own decisions. Autocratic have a tendency personalize criticism and are often times viewed as harsh or rigid. Autocratic leaders work well in times of crisis where an authoritarian is needed to quickly gain compliance and organize resources (Aleno, Griffith, Weaver & Wright, 2008). An example of this would be in an officer involved shooting situation. When an officer is injured in the line of duty, emotions run high which often creates a chaotic situation that is difficult to control or manage.

Autocratic leaders are most likely to be able to handle a situation such as this due to the fact they are quick to give orders and begin making the decisions that need to be made without much hesitation. Autocratic leaders in a criminal justice setting often work best with subordinates who are young and have little experience. The democratic leader is one that welcomes input from their subordinates under the right circumstances. Democratic leaders encourage their subordinates to participate in the decision making process which promotes teamwork and personal growth.

Democratic leaders often times delegate duties to subordinates which further builds their confidence in decision making. Democratic leaders many times can struggle during times of emergency due to the fact they might take additional time to make decisions due to bringing others into the decision making process. The third leadership style, laissie-faire, is a style in which the leader will allow the subordinates to make the majority of the decisions on their own with little input or interference from the leader. This type of leadership can be effective in situations where subordinates perform properly without excessive direct supervision.

An example of where a laissie-faire style of leadership could be utilized would be a unit comprised of self motivated veterans who require very little supervision. This style has few truly positive aspects and the agency could actually be placed in jeopardy due to this hands off approach to leadership. The laissez-faire style may not be leadership style at all; instead, it may be an abdication of administrative duties (Peak, 2004). How does leadership differ from management? Any criminal justice organization would benefit from having both managers and leaders among their ranks.

There are managers who are not capable of true leadership and leaders who are not accomplished managers. In contrast, there are some who have the unique ability to perform well as both a manager and a leader. There are marked similarities and differences that make management and leadership roles important to a criminal justice agency. Management can be defined as “the fluid and dynamic component of administration” and as “a process of working with people in a humane way to achieve organizational goals and objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible (Aleno, Griffith, Weaver & Wright, 2008).

Managers concentrate much of their efforts on planning, organizing, directing, implementing, and evaluating. Criminal Justice mangers are known for prioritizing important aspects of an agency and ensuring that things such as resources and proper planning are in place. “Leadership means directing or the ability to obtain the “followership” of others” (Aleno, Griffith, Weaver & Wright, 2008). Leadership can take on many forms and can be seen at all levels of a criminal justice agency. Leaders motivate and inspire their followers or subordinates to work towards a shared vision.

Leaders envision the future and attempt to gain a followership among their subordinates which changes their way of thinking for the better of the agency and themselves. Leadership and management are similar in some ways while being completely different in others. Both management and leadership ultimately are working towards positive outcomes for an agency as a whole. Leaders and managers both have a common responsibility to work toward a more productive and efficient organization. While leadership and management accomplish this differently, both positions have an impact on the people within the organization.

“Leaders and managers differ in what they attend to and how they think” (Aleno, Griffith, Weaver & Wright, 2008). Managers concern themselves more with managing resources, planning, and directing in an effort to meet the goals of the agency. These tasks deal more in structuring behaviors and processes with less emphasis on what motivates personnel to be productive. By contrast, leaders are more concerned with motivating, praising, or inspiring. These ideas are more likely to have a positive impact on the minds and attitudes of the people within an organization to continue working towards a shared vision.

Although there are similarities and differences in management and leadership, a criminal justice agency should contain both. Due to the fact that there are very positive characteristics of both managers and leaders, a criminal justice agency needs a combination of the two in order to maximize its potential. It is debatable as to whether one is more important that the other. Ideally, a manager would strive to develop leadership skills while a leader would strive to develop managerial skills. Why is leadership important in Criminal Justice?

Leadership is an important part of a criminal justice organization for same reasons leadership is important to any organization. Leaders are responsible for keeping an organization focused on moving forward and progressing towards a better more improved organization. Leaders must be innovative and continue looking for new and better ways of doing business while encouraging their followers to share that positive mindset. Leadership is absolutely crucial in criminal justice for numerous reasons to include motivation and promoting ethical behavior.

In a criminal justice organization, staying motivated can be a challenging at times for many reasons. With the inherent stressors and pressures of working in the criminal justice field, one can find themselves lacking the motivation needed to remain successful. It is the responsibility of leadership to recognize this type of mindset and deal with it appropriately. Leaders should strive to keep their subordinates motivated using creativity and making necessary changes that produced positive results. A criminal justice leader must know their subordinates and understand that each person is motivated differently.

Promoting ethical behavior is another important aspect and responsibility of leadership in criminal justice. Unethical behaviors are present in any organization and a criminal justice agency is certainly no exception. In criminal justice especially, one can on a daily basis find themselves in an ethical dilemma. Ethical behavior must start at the top of a criminal justice agency and be seen and reinforced with regularity. Leadership can prevent a large number of unethical behaviors by simply being involved, engaged, and by holding their subordinates accountable.

Leaders of a criminal justice organization must lead by example and have integrity. Those in a criminal justice leadership role who themselves choose to engage in unethical behaviors do an enormous disservice to the organization and to individual members. “The organizational climate which is directly influenced by the leadership of the agency determines how much unethical behavior will be present in a criminal justice agency or, for that matter, any organization” (Wright, 1999). There is absolutely no substitute for leadership within a criminal justice organization.

It is absolutely vital for criminal justice organizations to not only ensure that there are strong leaders in the right positions within the organization, but to also invest in their people to ensure that quality leaders are being bred for the future. A criminal justice agency that does not invest in there people from a leadership stand point, are certainly doing themselves and the organization a disservice. Research has made it abundantly clear that the quality and quantity of leadership a criminal justice organization possesses will have a direct impact on the productivity, morale, and overall success that organization will experience.

References Aleno, L. , Griffith, S. , Weaver, K. , & Wright, S. Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. (2008). Middle management (Version 2008. 8). Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Dobbs, C. , & Field, M. (1993). Leaders vs. managers: The law enforcement formula. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 62(8), 22-25. Lynch, R. (1998). The police manager. (5th ed. ). Cincinnati, OH: anderson publishing co. Peak, K. J. (2004).

Justice administration police, courts, and corrections management. (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Stojkovic, S. , Klofas, J. , & Kalinich, D. (2012). Criminal justice organizations, administration and management. (5th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co. Wright, K. N. (1999). Leadership is the key to ethical practice in criminal justice agencies. Criminal Justice Ethics, 18(No. 2), Retrieved from http://www. questia. com/library/1G1-60060343/leadership-is-the-key-to-ethical-practice-in-criminal

Updated: Jul 07, 2022
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Leadership in Criminal Justice. (2016, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/leadership-in-criminal-justice-essay

Leadership in Criminal Justice essay
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