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Corrections Leadership – Change Is Not Optional
By A. Allen-Jones, MPA - PHD Candiate in Organizational Leadership
Published: 12/07/2015

Leadership Traditionally Law Enforcement has placed significant weight on organizational loyalty when considering leadership advancements. Essentially, loyalty equated respect and respect equated recognition. Such a pattern continues to exist within the walls of the most dominating correctional institutions. At face value, promotion through loyalty allegiance appears acceptable. However, the passing time has not been kind to traditional corrections promotion practices. No longer does loyalty and experience alone meet the demands of leadership.

Corrections administration cannot continue to ignore the necessity of revamping its leadership approaches. Laws have demanded correctional institutions to be kinder, more cognitive based. Organizations have taken steps to meet newly mandated standards, such as The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and legislative calls to expand inmate reentry initiatives. Hunches and experience moved aside and in its place Evidence-Based Practices has become the new standard.

Still, there is a quiet but stubborn resistance toward incorporating fresh leadership approaches. . While some correctional organizations have begun to incorporate Evidence-Based Leadership styles, others have not. We are a prideful group, and for all the pride we hold, the challenges of moving to a potentially better place is deferred.

Organizations struggle to understand why yesteryear supervision practices fail to motivate new officers. Leadership’s commitment to traditional managerial styles catapults a fallacy that change is ignorable. Corrections workforce culture has changed and administrations that are refusing to recognize the changes will continue to take an organizational shellacking.

What programs does your organization have in place to address cultural diversity? Does your organization utilize one managerial style to address all your employees? If so, you’re most likely moving in the wrong direction.

There is a vast difference in the way, Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen Xers (1965-1980’s-early), and Gen Ys (1980’s-mid- 2000) perform their jobs . All too often corrections leadership employs a one fits all supervisory approach. There is often little if any recognition afforded to the vast difference in a correctional officer of twenty years and one with less than two years. When dissension erupts leaders rush to traditional modes of leadership. The result, low morale, increased absenteeism, and an overall decline in work performance.

What about Whole leadership? If your organization is unfamiliar with the approach, perhaps it is time to explore a proven approach to strengthening your leadership approach. A Whole Leader focuses on the personality of all employees, veterans, mid-career, and new hires. There is no disruption in the overall operations nor to adherence to laws, policies, and procedures.

What does change, is the manner in which leaders approach different employees, and the new motivation each will find. Perhaps a veteran officer is more motivated by pleasing a leadership while a newly hired officer takes pride in the team focused goals.

Corrections is changing, and the changes require leadership that is fundamentally qualified to meet the demands. Leadership that is built through multi-level inclusions of education, experience, and dedication toward incorporating innovative leadership approaches.

A. Allen, is a Criminal Justice Veteran & Adjunct Professor, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Justice Organizational Leadership and Philosophy. Contact information, allenj_14@att.net


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