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Practical Perspectives: Thoughts on Leadership and Subordinate Development (Part I of II)
By Major Clifford G. Tebbitt, Jail Administrator, Scott County Sheriff's Office
Published: 01/03/2011

County jail Editors note: The following is a continuing series of articles written by Major Clifford G. Tebbitt, of the Scott County Iowa Sheriff's Office. Mr. Tebbitt is a Jail Administrator and a PhD candidate. The series includes: contemporary issues with jail/corrections administration.

In today's fast paced jail environment, the difference between an organization succeeding or failing often comes down to the quality and effectiveness of its leadership. So how do we as leaders in local corrections, as jail administrators, develop subordinate leaders? Where do we find information and material that clearly defines the way?

Stogdill, (1950) defines leadership as the process of influencing the activities of an organized group in an effort towards goal getting and goal achievement. Leadership is further defined as a process of social interaction where the leader's ability to influence the behavior of their followers can strongly influence performance outcomes (Humphrey, 2002; Pirola-Merlo, Hartel, Mann, and Hirst, 2002). Leadership is intrinsically an emotional process, whereby leaders recognize followers' emotional states, attempt to evoke emotions in followers, and then seek to manage followers' emotional states accordingly (Humphrey, 2002). Pescosolido, (2002) argues that leaders increase group solidarity and morale by creating shared emotional experiences. The ability of leaders to influence the emotional climate can strongly influence performance (Humphrey, 2002).

When looking at the literature, most of the thousands of books and articles that have been written about the subject describe the qualities that great leaders are supposed to have instead of describing what great leaders do. In doing this, they merely perpetuate many myths about leadership (Dowsett, 2006). To survey leadership literature one could very easily conclude that there is an absence of general, integrative thought that defines the way ahead when contemplating anchors for subordinate development. Recently, Lynham and Chermack, two noted researchers on leadership literature, reported in 2006 that in spite of the abundance of leadership research over the last several years that has given us a "much better understanding of leaders and the leadership process within the field of leadership studies continues to be riddled with paradoxes, inconsistencies and contradictions”.

Much of existing assumption focuses on effective leadership, and on leadership processes, at the individual, group, or organizational level (Aryris, 1976; House & Mitchell, 1974; Vroom, 1976). It appears little emphasis is placed on whole system effect, and even less on concerns for both people and performance (Lynham & Chermack, 2006). From a contemporary subordinate leader development standpoint, it is safe to conclude that leadership is an influence process, the dynamics of which are a function of the personal characteristics of the leader and followers and the nature of the specific situation (Richards & Greenlaw, 1972). However, right when you assume you have the answer on the right formula, the right mix, contemporary leadership gurus cut it from yet another angle.

Certainly an administrator will not go wrong if subordinate development plans are built on what can be found within most recent contemporary leadership literature. You find views with a common theme that conveys attributes of a leader as an individual who inspires followers through their words, ideas, and behaviors that influences the organization in either a charismatic or a transformational fashion (Robbins & Judge, 2007). But, yet again, not all subordinate leaders whom you know have great potential show much charisma or are politian-like in their ability to speck to those they are charged to influence. Maybe, respite in what can appear somewhat futile in attempting to define leadership tenants thought what is so plentiful in print today we can find something common to the pursuit. Maybe, the common thread running through the many definitions of leadership is that leadership is a process whereby one individual exerts influence over others.

Editors Note: Part II will be published on corrections.com February 7, 2010

Other articles by Tebbitt:


Aryris, Chris (1976). Leadership, Learning, and Changing the Status Quo. Organizational Dynamics, 4(3), 29. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1261237).

Dowsett, Christopher (2006). Effective Leadership. Strategic Finance, 88(6), 25, 55. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1182426871).

House .J. & Mitchell T.R. (1974). Path-Goal Theory of Leadership. Journal of Contemporary Business, 3(4), 81. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1157543).

Humphrey, R.H. (2002), "The many faces of emotional leadership", The Leadership Quarterly, 13(5), 493-504. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 231282961).

Lynham, Susan A. & Thomas J Chermack. (2006). Responsible Leadership for Performance: A Theoretical Model and Hypotheses. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12(4), 73-88. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1042698751).

Pescosolido, Anthony T. (2002), "Emergent leaders as managers of group emotion", The Leadership Quarterly, 13(5), 583-599. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 231283011).

Pirola-Merlo, A., Hartel, C., Mann, L. & Hirst, G. (2002), "How leaders influence the impact of affective events on team climate and performance in R&D teams", The Leadership Quarterly, 13(5), 561-581. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 231283001).

Richards, N.D. & Greenlaw P.S. (1972). Management Decision Making, Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin Inc.

Robbins, Stephen P. & Judge, Timothy A. (2007). Organizational Behavior. (12th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Stogdill, R.K. (1950), Leadership, Membership and Organization, Psychological Bulletin, 52, p 4. Retrieved November 19, 2010,

Vroom, Victor H. (1976). Can Leaders Learn To Lead? Organizational Dynamics, 4(3), 17. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1261236).


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