Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
|Course/Unit Learning Outcomes||Learning Activity|
|5.1||Unit Lesson Chapter 8 Unit IV Assessment|
|5.2||Unit Lesson Chapter 7 Unit IV Assessment|
Chapter 7: Leadership, pp. 207-238
Chapter 8: Communication, pp. 247-248, 250-271, 276-277
An organization must have someone in charge, but bestowing a title on that person does not make him or her a leader (Allen & Sawhney, 2019). As an individual in the position to direct, one must have the ability to inspire others to achieve an organization’s goals through individual and/or combined efforts. Strong leadership is necessary in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of law enforcement because not only has law enforcement changed over the years, but also the demographics in which law enforcement operates have changed significantly. Recognizing these changes will assist managers in understanding the need to employ the most beneficial leadership methods possible. The leader and the organization, as a whole, will benefit.
Several approaches can be taken by a leader in an effort to be as effective as possible. One option is for the leader to be able to recognize his or her own individual traits to develop these to better recognize employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs. The jury is still out on whether individuals are naturally born with leadership traits or if these are completely achieved through training. Some of the traits that one must possess are ambition, a sense of achievement, motivation, and self-confidence. While these traits may tend to be beneficial in personal achievements, as well as getting along with others, there is little evidence that correlates to having these traits with a person being a good leader. The problem is that even with these attributes, there is no indication a person will be able to guide the organization to be productive. Simply put, the supervisor could be friendly, honest, and self-confident, but these attributes do not necessarily translate into success as a leader.
Another approach to consider is whether one management style alone is sufficient as the supervisor rarely faces the same situation on multiple occasions. Managers who focus simply on the same traits every time fail to consider how situations vary and which of those traits may be needed in any dilemma because not all situations have the same circumstances, (i.e., individuals, resources, or particular quandaries). Considering this, situational leaders understand there is no one best leadership style because different events may require different approaches. The change in the leadership style may not be easily accomplished, as each quandary
will require a review of the specific task, resources, and people (e.g., employees or customers). The laborUNIT x STUDY GUIDE intensive review of each task does not always lend itself to the manager easily altering management styles Title because supervisors develop a management style that is comfortable to them due to their own education, experience, and culture. However, as Allen and Sawhney (2019) indicate, successful managers navigate the difficult task of sifting the important factors of each decision and assuming the leadership style best suited for each circumstance, thereby not remaining stagnant and accepting the status quo.
As stated in Unit III, when reviewing each situation managers should note that employees are not created equal in knowledge, skills, or abilities. Observing this important point about the employees, the supervisor will recognize that some employees are eager to accept new responsibilities, and the supervisor is better able to delegate. On the other hand, some employees, because of a lack of education, experience, or willingness to accept responsibilities, are unprepared for complex tasks and may need a more direct approach and to be given explicit directions. Another style that a leader could use with employees that falls between the two previously mentioned extremes would be providing two-way communications with employees to ascertain their concerns and suggestions for a project while allowing them to participate in the decisions necessary for a successful resolution. The four styles of telling, selling, participating, and delegating are procedures that managers should feel comfortable in alternating, depending on which one is necessary to accomplish the assigned task.
While there may be circumstances in law enforcement in which a manager must utilize the direct approach of simply telling an employee what he or she must do and how it must be done, most employees will accept and support management choices when they are part of the solution by participating in the decision-making process. Not only will there be a higher level of acceptance by the employees, but also managers need to recognize that individuals who are actually performing the specific tasks may have more accurate information on how something should be accomplished than the supervisor. Even though involvement of the employees in the decision-making process may provide alternative solutions, this management style does come with the dilemma that decisions take longer to make, which may be unacceptable in a highly volatile or quickly changing situation. The manager considering the participative management style should also realize that some individuals might be eager to promote a personal agenda that may be contrary to the organizational goals. In addition, an employee may find himself or herself in a difficult position when the manager actively seeks, but declines any suggestions. Employees who offer alternative solutions that are rejected may become less likely to participate in future requests if they believe that their opinions simply do not matter. These factors leave this style of management with both benefits and detriments that must be considered.
However, if after reviewing alternatives, the manager wishes to continue with the participative management style, he or she would be wise to understand that the best way for this style to be successful is to educate subordinates about how the process works and why suggestions may or may not be accepted. The educational process would explain how the manager is drawing upon each person’s knowledge and that innovative solutions originate better from multiple inputs. Once a manager is sure that employees have the necessary knowledge and skills to participate, it is common for a worker’s self-esteem to increase when he or she feels the suggestions are trusted and given serious consideration.
Regardless of the management style utilized in the solving of any issue, communication is one of the most important elements to ensure a successful resolution (Allen & Sawhney, 2019). While there may be numerous examples of failed communication, many are also available that demonstrate how communication within an organization, as well as between agencies, leads to the successful performance of individuals and groups. With so much time and importance associated with communication, an informed manager will recognize that choosing how ideas or information is exchanged will better increase the likelihood of success. When considering this, not only will the manager recognize that communication is more than just a one-way process, but the manager must also consider how clearly stated his or her information may be and whether the receiver understands the message as it was intended. In addition, the manager will need to understand that to increase the likelihood of the intended accomplishment, feedback must be obtained from the receiver.
It should be noted that two-way communication needed for active involvement with employees is not always easy to accomplish because there are numerous opportunities for the intended message to be
misunderstood. Every communication is developed, transmitted, and received in its own social context, which produces noises that interfere with how the receiver may understand the intended communication. These noises can be as simple as the tone of the message or the level of trust between the parties involved. One way law enforcement can ensure much of the misinterpretation is removed from the message is to
understand changing demographics and address any issues with constituents to raise the level of trust UNIT x STUDY GUIDE between the law enforcement agency and its community. Any mistrust will act as a filter in how the intended Title message is perceived. Agencies that understand potential culture differences and how these characteristics alter misconceptions will find a benefit in reinforced trust and honesty through the nurturing of these relationships.
Managers who understand the need to keep employees informed understand how information can follow formal or informal forms of communication. Formal communication generally follows the same direction as the chain of command, both upward and downward. It provides an opportunity for senior managers to offer explanations on how certain tasks are expected to be accomplished through specific instructions. While this method of communication is generally face-to-face, it can travel through several levels of supervisors and lose approximately one-fourth of the information each time it passes through each level, thereby leaving approximately 31% of the information after just four exchanges. Even though this should be unacceptable by any standards, the formal method often provides the best opportunity for correct information to be disseminated.
Informal communication allows information to flow outside formal channels because it does not adhere to the hierarchy generally recognized in an organization’s structure. While information may travel quicker in this mode than formal modes, some information will be distorted because information being exchanged may not necessarily be completely accurate. However, even though not all information is accurate, it may be surprising to managers to recognize that most employees get the information from the informal method, which may be disturbing because managers should be supplying enough information so that there is little use for an informal method.
While the use of various channels of communication is important, a supervisor must realize that too much information, especially in a short time, may lead to an information overload in which an employee becomes so overwhelmed that he or she is unable to make critical decisions. Providing employees with up-to-date, accurate information periodically allows information to be digested at a pace that is manageable. By taking steps necessary to nurture relationships with honest and trustworthy information in a manner that only promotes strong working relationships, employees will be the most productive.
No leadership style is superior to others, but organizations no longer have the luxury of accepting the status quo, and therefore, should make all necessary arrangements to properly train supervisors. The art of leadership begins with communicating with the employees so that the manager recognizes each employee’s strengths and weaknesses while building a foundation of trust through communication. No organization will be successful without strong leadership; this cannot be accomplished by accident, but by communicating and recognizing the potential of all employees.
Allen, J. M., & Sawhney, R. (2019). Administration and management in criminal justice: A service quality approach (3rd ed.). Sage.
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