|Leaders vs. Managers [part i of iv]|
|By Tracy E. Barnhart|
Tracy Barnhart is a Marine combat veteran of Desert Storm / Desert Shield. In 2000, he joined the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Marion Juvenile Corrections Facility, a maximum security male correctional facility housing more than 320 offenders. Barnhart works with 16 to 21-year-old, male offenders with violent criminal convictions and aggressive natures. In his monthly column, he discusses everyday issues affecting corrections professionals.
Editor’s note: In part one of this four-part series about leadership strategies, corrections expert and Corrections.com regular columnists, Tracy Barnhart, discusses the differences between leaders in title only compared to those who lead through example and action.
Have you ever looked at someone in a management position and asked yourself, “How did this guy get into a leadership role?” Well you are not the only one then. I have stated hundreds of times that in our agency you don’t move up the ladder of success, you get pulled up by someone you know. This, in my opinion, only promulgates the continuing failure of leadership at the top most hierarchy of the agency.
I am a firm believer in blind testing and open interviews for supervisory positions conducted by outside individuals. This truly rules out any rumors of friendship promotions and puts the best candidate into an open supervisory position. Sometimes you need a transfusion of new blood in the management group in order to make advancements in the way the agency operates.
Everywhere we look today it seems we are constantly seeking people to be leaders. We want the strongest and most qualified to lead our agencies, businesses, communities, governments and our nation. We all seem to realize that we need leadership more today than ever before to deal effectively with such critical issues as the financial system, environmental, staffing levels, and extreme violence within our fences and on our streets like never before.
Yet in the face of these problems, there seems to be less effective leadership in our nation today than ever before. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that much of society apparently does not want to lead. They prefer to sit on the sidelines and not get involved -- not take risks. They are comfortable being followers and complaining about how the risk takers and current leaders are performing poorly.
“A leader is a person who has the ability to get people to do what they don't want to do, and like it.”
Unfortunately, the law enforcement profession, like society at large, suffers from a lack of effective leadership; it has too many followers. Indeed, the paramilitary, hierarchical structure that still exists in most police departments and corrections facilities today helps to ensure a surplus of followers as well as a corresponding scarcity of leaders.
If you are interested in becoming a leader in the law enforcement community, you must first understand the meaning of leadership. Leadership has been defined in hundreds of ways, with each new leadership book claiming its definition to be the best. Leadership is much like obscenity -- it is difficult to define, but we all know it when we see it. Sometimes after you have seen individuals attempting to fake leadership with principals they don’t have or understand, you don’t want to see it again.
True leadership, involves the following: (1) assuming responsibility for showing the way, or setting the direction; (2) speaking out about what can be done to achieve the organization's mission more effectively and efficiently, and not fearing the repercussions for speaking out; (3) adhering to core beliefs that depict what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior regarding how employees approach their work, how they manage internally, and how they relate to the community; and (4) being in the trenches and directly involved in critical situations with the troops instead of staying in the rear or in their office, leading via e-mail.
“Leadership is the process of giving purpose (meaningful direction) to collective effort, and causing willing effort to be expended to achieve that purpose.”
In part two, next week Barnhart continues to discuss what it takes to be a true leader Other articles by Barnhart:
How to tick people off, 1/28/08
Are you listening?, 12/31/07
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT