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View From the Line: Leadership for the 21st Century

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 70 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 14,16,17
Jason Heaton; Gene Atherton
Date Published
February 2008
3 pages
This article identifies the characteristics of effective leaders in corrections for the 21st century.
Correctional leaders must not become locked into personal agendas that have developed over the course of their personal and professional lives. They must exercise sufficient control to suspend their personal agendas in order to be open to and welcome others' ideas and to examine objectively empirical data on what has worked and not worked in corrections. Good leaders also forge relationships with coworkers by listening to, understanding, and responding to their expressions of the challenges they face. Leaders must also pay attention to their own personal needs in order to balance a life of work and overall personal health. Failure to adopt a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle leads to burnout and a waning of the motivation and energy required to maintain leadership abilities. For a corrections leader, positive energy and attitude are important. Skepticism, indifference, and loss of hope that positive changes can occur undermine the ability of leaders to rally staff to achieve the change that is needed. Leaders must appreciate the emotional impact of their behavior and attitudes on their staff. Building the self-esteem and confidence of staff in performing their duties is essential for improving performance. It is also important for correctional leaders to continuously remind and direct their staff toward the purpose and value of their job activities and job performance for the overall purpose of the organization. Other important characteristics of a correctional leader are to act as a mediator in building consensus and compromise regarding policy and practice and to maintain the staff's focus on the priority of high-quality performance as the core of their work-related interactions. 13 notes