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Correctional Leadership
By Adrian Smith
Published: 09/02/2013

Leadership h One of the most pressing topics, not only in corrections, but in society itself is that of the context of leadership. What defines a leader? Are leaders born or made? What attributes make a great leader? These are all great focal points when examining leadership and roles of a great leader.

Montgomery (n.d), points out that there is a need for sound leadership in the management of jails and prisons after a cursory examination of recent court interventions, media and legislative scrutiny, and escalating budgets. According to Dilulio, “the quality of prison/jail life depends far more on management practices than on any other single variable”. We are at a period of time where we need more transformational and emergent leaders at the forefront in today’s correctional field.

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership style that leads to positive changes in those who follow. Transformational leaders are generally energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member on their team succeed as well. Emergent leadership is exhibited when others perceive a person to be the most influential member of the group or organization, regardless of the person’s assigned formal position. Emergent leadership is being exercised by a person when other people in the organization support, accept, and encourage that person’s behavior. This way of leading does not occur because a person is appointed to a formal position but emerges over time through positive communication behavior.

Whether you are in a formal or assigned leadership position, or an up and coming emergent leader, both must work together to accomplish one common goal inside the facility. Seiter points out some very good competencies of effect leaders in corrections using the acronym CORRECTION. He explains that correctional leaders must strive to practice the following ideals:

(C) Oncentrate on the big picture-Clear vision on organization and focus on what’s important.

(O) bserve their areas of responsibility frequently-Accountability; moving away from delegating task.

(R) esolve problems quickly-Exercise best technical knowledge when tackling complex problems.

(R) espond to every inquiry-Effective leaders will see that every inquiry, both internal and external sources receive a response.

(E) nhance their abilities-Continue to learn about yourself.

(C) ommunicate with people internal and external to the organization-Great correctional leaders use every opportunity to convey their vision and values to staff, visitors, volunteers, and entities external to the organization in every manner possible.

(T) hink outside the box, but not too far-Today’s correctional leaders must use all the creativity and innovativeness they can muster to meet the challenges of a constantly changing system.

(I) ntegrity is everything-Citizens have devout expectations of public leaders in general; those expectations of public officials working in the criminal justice system are even higher. While we are not perfect, remember integrity is everything and don’t ever jeopardize it. Learn from your mistakes big or small.

(O) ffers their skills to resolve problems-The leader is expected to have knowledge and skills beyond most employees and should officer them to staff on occasions when it is appropriate.

(N) urture their staff-This is one of the primary roles of a leader. True leaders are completely committed to the growth of others and believe that they have value that exceeds their tangible contributions as employees. Leaders cherish their employees and will go to great lengths to retain them.

In conclusion, as stated at the fore forth, whether you are an assigned leader or an up and coming emergent leader, you have a duty to lead other correction professionals in the ever growing field. These are the employees that will be on the frontline for years to come. Lead them in the right direction. Put forth your best attributes and skills in whatever you do, because you never know whose watching.

Corrections.com author, Adrian Smith, is a Classification Officer for Orange County Corrections in Orlando, Fl. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Upper Iowa University and a Masters of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Everest University. He is currently obtaining his Doctorial Degree in Public Safety Leadership from Capella University. Adrian is an adjunct instructor for Everest University Online Division in the Justice Studies Department. Adrian has been in Corrections for 6 years working for Florida’s Prison and Jail system. He can be reached at Adrian.Smith@ocfl.net

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