The Importance of Organization and Leadership Structure in Criminal Justice

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The importance of both organization and leadership in a Criminal Justice setting cannot be understated. Arguably, it is the most important field in which organization and leadership can be practiced. Failure to adhere to sound judgment and leadership practices would result in a breakdown of the entire system. To this end, it is necessary to examine exactly what leadership styles are most effective in a Criminal Justice setting, as well as how the organization plays such a crucial role in it.

First, one must identify the various leadership styles. There are five primary styles that compliment Criminal Justice positions well. The first and most important is a democratic system of leadership. As its name implies, this system allows each individual to bring his or her own knowledge and skills to a particular goal in a Criminal Justice setting. The democratic system of leadership is especially effective in situations where the ultimate goal is uncertain or ever-changing, as Criminal Justice tends to be. The second is called the visionary style. This style focuses on assessing the needs of an organization regularly. This is effective for smaller, more fluid positions in Criminal Justice. The third is known as the coaching method. This method focuses on developing individuals on a one-on-one basis and is proven to increase employee morale considerably. The fourth is known as the commanding style. This style is the firmest, most popular, and also most controversial. It involves a central authority figure or figures, who makes the rules and is essentially the “alpha” of the group. This style is effective if used sparingly, such as selecting someone to “take charge” in a sticky situation. The last style is known as the “affiliative” style. This style is all about working together, much like the democratic style, except this style focuses on the abilities of the collective, rather than each individual unit.

Next, it is necessary to examine certain forms of organizational structure and how they can affect a Criminal Justice organization. It is common knowledge that the organizational climate of any given organization will affect every facet of its operation. To this end, a solid, consistent organizational structure is necessary. This means that things such as flagrant displays of power, such as excessive force and corruption, are obviously fatal to any Criminal Justice organization. In addition, even individual employee crimes, such as sexual harassment or misconduct, petty theft, or discrimination will ultimately harm and bring down the rest of the group. For this reason, certain ethical standards must be practiced when working within Criminal Justice. This is not just because of the usual benefits of ethical actions, but because a solid, trusting bond between all members of a Criminal Justice organization is the first and most important step toward organizational success. In order to ensure that these ethical actions are followed, the chief officer of the particular Criminal Justice organization must set a clear set of ethics rules, and impose strict penalties if these are violated. This might seem tyrannical at first, but these measures are necessary to achieve organizational effectiveness, and it is important for employees to understand that. These same practices should also be upheld by the chief officer himself, except to an even greater degree, so that they may set a positive example. One must also hold each employee accountable for his or her actions. Employee accountability is crucial in order to ensure that each employee, even though he or she is part of a collective, is still responsible for his or her own actions.

Another important issue that must be addressed is what is known as workplace deviance. This is where an employee deliberately seeks to cause harm to the organization. There are several different types of workplace deviance. The first, and probably the most common in Criminal Justice agencies, is organizational deviance. This is where an employee withdraws physically, mentally, and/or emotionally from an organization, and begins doing things like showing up late regularly, destroying or defacing property, or simply not showing up for work at all. This is particularly damaging for Criminal Justice agencies because unity and collective benefit are core tenants of most organizations. One of the most destructive of workplace deviance, especially for Criminal Justice organizations, is what is known as “cyberloafing.” This is where a worker will, for whatever reason, choose to simply not work on a computer, opting instead to play games, browse the web, or other meaningless tasks. Workplace deviance can be a huge detriment to Criminal Justice organizations because protocol and processes are some of the most important concepts to it. Organizational deviance, in particular, jeopardizes this by threatening to overthrow the status quo, potentially setting an example for other employees, or, if the deviant employee is in an influential position, jeopardizing the entire organization. For this reason, the authority figure must be proactive in preventing organizational deviance, to keep it even beginning in the first place. To counteract organizational deviance, it is important to not only utilize a code of ethics but also common ethics to ensure that each employee understands his or her importance and is recognized for it on a regular basis. Other programs, such as work or attendance incentives, should also be observed to at least some degree. The most important part of avoiding organizational deviance is to understand that it is a two-way street. The authority in any Criminal Justice organization must be firm but fair, and its employees must be prepared to work, but not unreasonably so. One of the best ways to achieve this is to characterize the roles these authority figures represent. Most importantly, organizational leadership is designed to be able to instigate change in a company’s vision and overall strategy as the need arises. Organizational leadership is also responsible for ensuring that all employees understand the needs of the organization and work to better these needs. As explained earlier, unity is the core tenant of Criminal Justice organizations, and having all employees working toward a single vision is extremely important. Finally, organizational leadership is responsible for keeping morale high among all employees. Doing so keeps things running smoothly within the company, of course, but also keeps employees generally happy, which brings with a whole host of other benefits.

Obviously, ethics are a crucial part of Criminal Justice and must be upheld on every level, especially the organizational level. In order to ensure this, and to keep everything running smoothly, it is necessary to observe the correct protocol in regards to the organization and structure of the company. Criminal Justice organizations should be the standard to which other fields look up to, especially in the areas of management, organization, and ethics.