Leadership Limitations

Leadership is a vital component that must be exiting in any society and among people and in the case of criminal justice, it is therefore paramount. Many people claim that leadership is inborn but few retort that leadership is a skill that can be acquired over a given period of time. The research question in this case considers: best individuals being suited for criminal justice administration or even management. Not all good people are leaders and at the same time not every leader is a good person since his or her leadership might have come with certain training over a period of time just to have the bad traits shielded away for the sake of the job or duties that need be performed. According to Sawhney and Allen, “managers cannot be successful without being good leaders and leaders cannot be successful without being good managers” They insist that organizations must get to do not only things right but as well do the right things. “Keeping the system stable instead of leading change and improvement; monitoring current performance instead of formulating a vision of the future; concentrating on equilibrium and control instead of vibrancy and charisma.” ( Sawhney & Allen, 2009: Whetten & Cameron, 2005).This implies that leadership and management must be commensurate and need to be nurtured in individuals even if they are not considered the best persons in the society or criminal justice organizations. This is in-line with the contribution of Sawhney and Allen that most researchers’ conclusion is to have competencies of both a manager and a leader being developed in the current dynamic world of criminal justice organizations and even other fields in order to experience a successful leadership.

Analysis of the research Question

Do the best individuals become criminal justice administrators or managers?

A very radical quick answer would be NO and this has not been proven yet but a number of leads can be studied to found out why this is true. Criminal justice administration is a very important aspect of government and life of the public. This implies that people who are given the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the general public must know that they are responsible for the public’s quality of life. Cronkhite notes that many criminal justice students will be the criminal justice leaders of the future (2007). Leadership in such an environment can then not be delegated to one who does not understand what justice, management and leadership are. The person has to be at a position of critical analysis of a criminal case, person to be able to lead well and do the right thing. It is worth noting that in criminal justice systems, management as well as leadership in required to guide the entire systems and the processes that are involved.

Leadership: Definitions and Key Factors

Leaders are made and not born, and good leaders are developed through a non ending process of self-study, education, training and experience (Jago, 1982). Clark states that leadership is a process where a person influences others to carry out a given task, objective and propels an organization in a way which “makes it more cohesive and coherent” (2010). Leaders are required to carry out the above process by putting into practice their knowledge and skill. A leader must in a four factor environment: situation, communication, follower and leader. In this case Clark states that the leader factor must be honest to understand who they are, what they know and what they can do. It must as well be noted that it’s the follower who determines whether a leader is successful and hence one has to convince the followers of being worth following (2010).

Secondly, the follower factor implies a lot of things the leader must be ready to work with since different people require different styles of leadership. This means that a leader must be very apt to know his people even within the entire criminal justice system by first understanding good human nature that include people’s needs, motivations, likes or emotions.

Thirdly, a leader must communicate where two or more people are able to comprehend what is being said or passed across and lastly, the situation being dealt with could be different with different people. The leader must know what to do in such a case and use his or her wisdom to judge between the right courses of action to take.

In a traits inventory that Stogdill draws, a number of traits have been stipulated to give provision for whoa leader is but these have repeatedly no shown any absoluteness in such a way as to separate leaders from followers or good leaders from bad leaders since leadership can be instilled through experience and training (1974). According to Stogdill’s trait scale represented below:

1—responsible, dependable, conscientious

2—achiever, ambitious, hard worker

 3—intelligent, alert, verbal, articulate, wise

4—status-oriented, popular, power-motivated

5—social, friendly, likable, active, warm

6—optimistic, positive, problem-solver

7—honest, integrity, trustworthy

8—persistent, determined, goal-oriented, strong

9—adaptive, flexible, learner, resilient, growing

10—empathic, perceptive, sensitive, insightful

The general understanding of a best person is to have him or her possess a number of the above traits but no single individual will have all these and so not best individuals are suited for the job of administrators of managers in a criminal justice organization.

Sawhney and Allen provide a brief of a number of skills that criminal justice leaders need to have. These include: Clan skills- these include the skills that one needs to develop an effective interpersonal skills such as team building or constructive as well as positive communicative abilities between the leader and the followers. Secondly, adhocracy skills ensure that a leader can manage the future and promote the inevitable changes such as problems that would arise in a judicial system. Thirdly, market skills are very important since they enable one to manage external relations in order to compete effectively and this can involve duties such as motivation and use of power to influence positively. Lastly, hierarchy skills are required to sustain control and stability while managing ones personal issues, time and rationally solving problems (2009).

Since the criminal justice roles are changing, it implies that a leader or manager within the criminal justice environment must be willing to adapt to the changes that cross a broad social context. Leaders must develop a best model to deal with the changes. Adlam and Villiers state that will most criminal justice systems are aligned towards paramilitary systems, there is need to have leaders who can endure a long transformation process that has strong leadership with clear vision and carefully planned systematic changes.

Challenges for Criminal Justice Leaders

In order to achieve a desirable change in the criminal justice system or organizations, leaders need to concentrate on three levels of changes and ensure that they can meet the challenges that come with them (Adlam & Villiers, 2003):

  • Individual change
  • Organizational change and,
  • Change in human resources

It is a well known thing that not many prefer to change and especially if the change is against their will. Leaders need to be effective managers since various situations involve different settings both of the leader and the followers. Stojkovic states that “consistency and uniformity across differing jurisdictions regarding the management of special population like in the criminal justice fields must adopt a best approaches benchmark and best practices as they related to the offenders and also the followers. According to Jago, leadership is both a process and a property. He states that the process of leadership is the use of noncoercive influence to direct and coordinate the activities of the members of the criminal justice organization in order to have them accomplish certain objectives. Then leadership is a property includes a set of qualities and traits attributed to the leader or person in charge and is perceived to successfully employ the required or expected influence (1982).

Ethics in Leadership

In any organization, there are rules and laws or regulations that govern the pattern of behaviour among the staff and the leaders of criminal justice organizations. It is therefore no exception to experience inappropriate, illegal and unethical behaviour in these organizations. Wright records that a number will succumb to corruption and will use excessive force, provisions of individuals, will exploit and harass clients and fellow staff and possibly engage in unethical practices (1999).

The reasons for some of these unethical practices even among leaders are partly due to fallibility of the human race. It is well known that the same forces that act on individuals or leaders to lie or steal or misappropriate resources within their dockets likewise upon criminal justice leaders to act inappropriately. According to Wright it is needful for law enforcement agencies and their leaders to stop classifying all as “we versus them,” or “us against them”. These aspects of a leader or manager provide fertile ground for them to overstep ethical limits, in order to justify their wrong actions (Wright, 1999). Leaders in most of these environments luck the will to endure the dynamic situations and cases being handled. It is very important for leaders or manager to be very level headed even at times of heated arguments. Wright says that organizational climate directly influenced by the leadership of the justice organization will determine how much unethical activities or practices that will be witnessed. For instance when a leader uses excessive force and brutality, corruption, racism, discrimination this will vary directly with the managerial attention to promote ethical standards of practice. The manner in which a leader chooses to direct or control people and the organization reflects the level of his or her maturity to manage or lead and effectively take responsibility.


It is the responsibility of a leader to take charge of his or her team and ensure that ethics in the criminal justice organization are followed or kept to the letter. This will ensure that the team being led is keen to address various issue that concern their duties and responsibility since the manager or the leader is paying attention.

Leaders and manager are not born except in very few cases that may not even be proven. Leadership and management comes with training and experience after a long unending period of time. The training must be long since different situations are encountered at different seasons or times.

Leaders in the criminal justice organizations must be competent, risk takers, responsible, honest and with integrity. They must accept to take the consequences of their teams’ actions with little or no compromise. The criminal justice organizations does not require good people of best individuals since these characters are hard to come by, these organizations need leaders who can do not only the right thing but managerial leaders who are determined to do things right.