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Is Correctional Leadership Timeless?
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 06/15/2015

Leadership h In most professions, leadership is timeless. The reason I say this is because leadership characteristics are linked to individuals and not businesses or organizational assets. This suggests that those persons demonstrating open-mindedness, great work skill sets, experience and other positive attributes in the workplace, may already in possession of those needed leadership qualities as they enter the work force.

It is true, however, that with time, they could learn to further improve their personality and character traits to make them better leaders. This leads me to believe that if you know yourself better, and if you have a strong self-awareness of your own skill set and leadership values and qualities, plus have the knowledge required or relevant to do the job, then leadership is timeless. It is perpetual in nature and goes with you no matter where you go.

It also leads me to believe that leadership is timeless under certain conditions such as working in a lead position in law enforcement or corrections. These jobs existed over a very long period of time, steady and sustained in necessities to be filled and performed and has also demonstrated an ability to keep up with the technology of today compared to the work habits of yesterday.

There may be some technical perspectives that need to be enhanced or re-trained but basically, if you have the knowledge to do the job, you can be trained, developed or mentored into an advanced role if you have the skill set and characteristics for such challenges in leadership roles. In other words, in every job, there is a constant need to learn new work related skill sets no matter where you work or what you do.

This is what keeps leadership fresh, challenging and non-repetitious in nature. Some say leadership is a balanced position. It has to serve with an effect that is like an equilibrium in the workplace. Leadership is a combination of psychology and business knowledge. Basic knowledge of the human behavioral spectrum is a desired leadership requirement as well as the specific context knowledge of the professional trade is essential.

This concept explains why different leaders are called for different purposes or agendas throughout the span of the organizational cycles. This requires an awareness agenda mindset and if this is boosted by an inner drive of their self-awareness and workplace structural understandings, leaders need to know themselves better in order to be effective at their roles to lead others.

This would then serve the organization, the agency or the profession as a core value for sound leadership over time and adjust accordingly making it timeless yet productive in nature and practical applications. This role would be greatly enhanced by the ownership of self-motivational process of being inspirational, visionary and the ability to change with external forces that are applied in every industry throughout time and technology improvements.

Leadership characteristics would be constant in one core value but with the added drive and ability to keep up with the changes around them would be flexible and agile in nature to be competitive as a leader, participative in decision making roles and setting new agendas.

After all is said, leadership is about learning as well as it is in leading others into new ideas, improved productivity and performance as well as impacting or producing better organizational services or increased profits. This requires a keen awareness of what is going on around you and outside the organization you work for.

It is a perpetual process of learning, observing technological patterns, and visionary proposals to integrate changes into the organization in a timeless manner. It takes a particular skill to become aware of a change in the cycles outside the work place. It is best explained as a positive attribute possessed individually and someone who knows and recognizes any significant or instrumental change is necessary and is applicable and necessary for future growth at different times of this leadership cycle.

This requires different types of leader for different times of the organizational lifespan cycle. It requires knowing who is right for which circumstances at hand. Commonly, these people are often referred to as “the successor” for better or improved teamwork, and collaborative efforts in the company etc.

This goes back to what types of people the organization invests their time and money on as well as selecting skills, characteristics and knowledge. It takes money to hire such individuals and this cannot be created by some accident. It must be planned of the organization will fail in their ability to compete, sustain or change with the industry selected.

In order to make a successful business transition or transformation, leaders must possess character traits that are positive in nature and encompass humility, openness, effective listening skills and a strong willingness to challenge themselves when questions are posed or discussed to deliver that equilibrium required to balance the workplace and its stability.

Such a logical and rational approach could protect future investments in the industry and offer a more than reasonable level of invincibility, invulnerability and infallible performance and services as required by their own strategic plan or mission statements requiring compliance to specific standards.

Certainly, we agree that public safety has specific demands and requirements by statutory and moral obligations as a public service entity protecting the communities as well as individuals.

This kind of an approach also indicates the need for the organization to become fluid, more open to change and consider various or different kinds of leadership candidates that are willing and able to step up to environmental changes as the agenda changes on the outside and the adjustments are required on the inside of the business.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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