|Ethical Leadership - Part 1|
|By Mike Raneses, Parole Agent, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation|
Part 1- A New Paradigm
Establishing and maintaining a healthy organizational culture in corrections is a multifaceted process, involving wise personnel selection, comprehensive ethics training, appropriate employee discipline and, the focus of this article, ethical leadership.
For several years, I have conducted ethics training for leaders and managers in my agency, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. During one of these training sessions, a correctional captain spoke up, “I’ll listen to what you have to say about ethics when you convince me that the upper echelon of this Department behaves ethically.” Of course, we should expect the designated leaders of an agency to behave ethically. How can leaders expect ethical conduct from their staff when they are not willing to lead by example?
Let’s begin our discussion of ethical leadership with a question that may not be as obvious as it seems: In a criminal justice organization, who are the leaders? Sergeants? Lieutenants? Managers? Administrators? Consider this paradigm: Not only are these we have just mentioned leaders, but all staff are leaders and share the responsibility for ethical leadership and the ethical climate of their organization.
In 2001, I was involved in the development and implementation of a program now known as the International Public Safety Leadership and Ethics Institute (IPSLEI), a unique leadership initiative designed to bring the concepts of leadership and ethics to the forefront of an individual’s career, rather than waiting until a person is promoted into a supervisory position. This program is based on the belief that one need not be a supervisor or manager to understand leadership principles and contribute to the leadership process. A cornerstone of the program is that effective leadership skills and influences are needed at all levels of the organization.
The IPSLEI is focused on an established vision, and supported by a mission statement and a statement of values and beliefs. The vision of the program is exceptional leadership throughout public safety organizations, while its mission is to develop quality leaders at all levels of public safety organizations through innovative leadership and ethics education. Foundational values and beliefs include that leadership is action, not position, and in the context of community, is shared among all members. Further, that leaders have a broad responsibility to enhance the quality of life in their organizations, and that truly effective leaders are anchored to positive values and ethical decision-making.
The overall program of IPSLEI consists of four courses of growth designed to lead the participant on a learning journey, which includes: developing a personal philosophy of leadership; leading others; organizational leadership; and ethics and the challenge of leadership.
Key to encouraging staff to embrace a vision for shared responsibility for ethical leadership within the organization, is helping them see their own potential and responsibility for leadership. Further, staff are helped to see that leadership skills can be developed and exercised no matter what their position within the organization.
While the definitions of leadership may be varied, through the IPSLEI, three distinct and constant assumptions about leadership are presented: within every individual there exists leadership potential, leadership can be taught, and developing a personal leadership philosophy is a pre-requisite to learning and applying leadership skills. This training does not assert that there is a science of leadership or a simple formula that can be applied; however, effective leaders throughout history have exhibited, to a significant degree, certain practices and skills.
Thomas Cronin, one of the authors whose writings are used in IPSLEI, offers seven key ingredients to successful leadership:
Next week, we will look more specifically at the “ethics” component of ethical leadership, and review some practical aspects of ethical behavior and decision-making. After all, as ethicist Michael Josephson says, “Ethics is an action concept; it is not simply an idea to think or argue about."
Part 2: Making it Practical
"Address to the Western Academy of Management," Thomas E. Cronin, published in "To Lead or Not To Lead," 1995, Phi Theta Kappa, Jackson, MS.
“Making Ethical Decisions,” Michael Josephson, 1992, The Josephson Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Mike Raneses is a 40-year criminal justice veteran with service as a Deputy Sheriff, Probation Officer, and most currently as a Parole Agent with the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. He resides in Tustin, CA with his wife Ruth where they lead Corrections Staff Fellowship, an organization designed to help staff maintain their faith and values while walking “The Toughest Beat in the Nation.”
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