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Leadership Philosophy

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Introduction

Leadership philosophy is often defined as a combination of certain skills and traits of the leader as well as his actions and behaviors undertaken by the leader in the process of interaction with his employees (Lussier & Achua, 2004). The subject of leadership philosophy is extensively discussed and debated in the empirical and theoretical literature. At the same time, much attention is dedicated to the origins of leadership philosophies, leadership styles, how they have evolved over time and whether leadership traits and characteristics are inherent to leaders (Murphy, 2005).

There is evidence in the leadership research literature that leaders maintain certain traits throughout their life. These leadership traits are considered to be based on interpersonal communication skills, intelligence, personality and physical characteristics of the leader (Steers, Porter, & Bigley, 1996). According to Marquis and Huston (2000), in the framework of the leadership philosophy of Aristotle as well as the trait leadership philosophy, people are considered to be born as leaders and having corresponding characteristics. However, this major distinguishing feature of the trait leadership philosophy is at the same time its main limitation, as it implies that people cannot develop their leadership skills and characteristics with the help of education (Murphy, 2005).

Unlike the trait leadership theory, behavioral leadership philosophy recognizes behavior and actions of people as factors that affect formation of the leader and his characteristics and skills (Wright, 1996). There are numerous studies and developed theories in the framework of the behavioral leadership philosophy that explain development of leadership styles and their effectiveness. In particular, Lussier and Achua (2004) have identified employee-centered and job-centered leadership styles within behavioral leadership philosophy. According to the job-centered leadership style, leader devotes his efforts to controlling performance of the tasks assigned to employees. On the other hand, employee-centered leadership style is focused on developing good relationships with employees and creating conditions at work to promote meeting their needs. The latter is often found to be more effective in terms of increasing workers’ productivity and performance in the workplace.

Furthermore, there is evidence in the literature that combination of various leadership styles depending on the situation is more effective compared to the application of separate leadership styles to specific situations (Fiedler, Hersey and Blanchard have developed another theory of leadership that distinguishes dependence of the leadership style on the perceptions of employees. They have extended the model of Fielder by establishing four leadership styles instead of two. They have included coaching leadership style, directing leadership style, delegating leadership style and supporting leadership style (Murphy, 2005).

Leadership theory that is built on similar contingency principles

The path goal theory has a considerable impact on the motivation of employees (House, 1971). According to this theory, accomplishments of goals and tasks and contentment of employees as well as improved functioning can be derived from the training of the leader, direction, support and guidance. Regardless of the findings of House, there is evidence that situational theory should be centered on the situational analysis rather than intrapersonal and interpersonal factors (Marquis & Huston, 2000).

Existence of numerous leadership philosophies creates many opportunities for people to choose the one that is the closest and most effective for them in particular. Following a distinct set of rules, developing leadership skills and behaviors is essential for becoming a successful leader at work and in personal life.

I am a police officer, a husband, a father, a grandfather, the protector of my family. I will lead a Christian life by applying the guidance and wisdom given to me through the Holy Spirit. I will serve my family by being a source of love, encouragement and strength and be an example for my children and grandchildren to follow. I will continue to maintain a meaningful relationship with my wife through effective listening and communication to make her feel valued and appreciated.

I will excel in my work and effectively manage my personal finances in order to create opportunities for my children. I will create opportunities through imagination, resourcefulness and persistence by turning goals into reality. I will live my life in dedication to my fellow officers.  I will lead with integrity, confidence, and a positive attitude. I will continue to expand my potential through continuous learning and self- reflection. I will never cease being the best I can be, by identifying my weaknesses and improving, by never giving up in order to provide a better future for my children to grow and prosper in a city that is free from inequity.

Implementation of Personal Leadership Philosophy in Law Enforcement Institutions

Effective leadership is a vital element of successful performance of any organization, including law enforcement agencies. Trustworthy and suitable leadership style is vital for successful accomplishment of work of the latter (Spinelli, 2006). Leaders seek to implement changes with the help of their employees or other people in order to achieve a desired goal.  Leadership is considered to be a procedure that does not only exercise impact on employees. Leaders accomplish realization of the organization’s goals with the help of successful implementation of changes (Lussier & Achua, 2004).

Leadership interlinks all the elements of the organization’s work including employees, leaders, organizational objectives, influence, people and necessary changes. The process of leadership involves people. Leadership expects some people to lead the rest of the people in a certain way. Therefore, in a context of the law enforcement institutions, it is worth mentioning that in order to become a good leader, a person should first show good performance at work and prove to be a good employee. Many scholars describe leadership as the process in which a leader is responsible for planning, directing and guiding other people towards achieving a mutual goal. According to Hesser (1999), “Leadership has two constituent parts, organizational and personal. Therefore, over time, success requires having knowledge about them as well as commitment to both”. Spinelli (2006) describes a thriving leader as being suitable and accountable to his employees.

Leadership has been defined as an authority relationship between employees and leaders who jointly implement real changes and products of work that mirror their mutual purposes (Daft, 2005). The foundation for excellent leadership is a highly regarded personality and thoughtful services for organization as well as employees (Clark, 1997).  “The best leaders are those who are profoundly paying attention to others and can bring out the best in them” (Daft, 2005). Effective leadership also originates from inspiring a shared vision, modeling the way, encouraging and enabling others to act, and challenging the process (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).

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In the settings of the law enforcement organizations, leadership has evolved over the decades. At the same time it should continue changing in order to address up to date problems. A comprehensive review of major leadership philosophies is examined and their advantages and disadvantages as well as their potential outcomes are described further.

In 1829 the Metropolitan Police Act was passed by the English Parliament. Along with the passage of this legislative act, London Metropolitan Police department was established. It became the model that was implemented by the American police.

Philosophy of leadership in England

Leadership philosophy that was present in the English model of policing was founded on the system that was largely command-centralized and bureaucratically controlled organization. This kind of leadership philosophy established a hierarchical controlling organization that instilled impersonal philosophy into the law enforcement organization’s structure (Fyfe et al., 1997). New York was the first city in the United States that attempted to establish this style of leadership in the law enforcement institution in 1851 (Fyfe, et al., 1997). However, it turned out that the attempt of New York to implement a strong central authority style of leadership was annulled as a result of social, political, and economic factors. This particular leadership style had a destructive effect on the process of communication as well as on the quantity of risks that officers dealt with (Smith, 2008). During this period, the majority of leaders in the law enforcement organizations were appointed during this period due to their contacts or origin.

The bureaucratic leadership model that was also grounded on the military command approach was extended later with the constituent of scientific management. Extension of the leadership model did not bring a lot of changes since leaders still had complete control through an inflexible and centralized chain of the command structure in order to attain general efficiency of the organization’s performance. Promotion of leaders was primarily based on the length of their tenure as well as their experience and skills. Promotion of leaders, however, was not based on the characteristics that leaders had.

Introduction of the scientific management came as a result of the industrial revolution. Leaders would methodically develop requirements for employees and then train and teach them how to fulfill their tasks and assignments. One of the major drawbacks of this leadership philosophy, however, was a considerable lack of interest and attention paid to the worker (Fyfe et al., 1997). Discussed models were centered on the leadership and not on the police officers at all. This resulted in the situation when officers were told what to do, how to do it and when instead of giving them the authority to make decisions on their own (Steinheider & Wuestewald, 2008). 

Ginger (2003) has criticized the unsuccessful leadership as being not capable to hand over or understand the logic of urgency, demonstrating reluctance to consider different alternatives and dictatorship. As leadership of the law enforcement institutions evolved over the time, it was eventually classified as democratic, laissez-faire or autocratic.

Philosophy of autocratic leadership

Autocratic leadership is associated with giving instructions that have to be accomplished quickly. It is based on the complete obedience of the employees when they are told what to do, how and where to implement orders of leaders. Laissez-faire leadership philosophy enables a group of people to make decisions, but yet it gives no control in the framework of this leadership style (Lussier & Achua, 2004). Democratic leadership philosophy includes a group of people that make decisions, and general management of the decision making process from the side of the leader. Democratic leadership philosophy implies participation of all the parties in the decision making process. First and foremost, the police leadership is protective of their power and skeptical of officer freedom (Wuestewald & Steinheider, 2006).

There is evidence in the literature that current leadership practices in the law enforcement institutions are mixed throughout different police organizations. Current police leadership still bears military style (Fyfe et al., 1997). There is little proof in the literature that police leadership practices are changing (Silverstri, 2007). The majority of the law enforcement organizations continue to promote their centralized leadership philosophy through the implementation of ranks and hierarchy.

This kind of management reminds police officers about their role of simple subordinates and has a separate place within the law enforcement organization. Silvestri (2007) emphasizes that present leadership in the law enforcement institutions is reluctant to share information within the organization and hardly ever allows other people to take part in the decision making process. Currently, modern police leader is the one who is assertive, strong, competitive, and unreceptive to change.

On the other hand, there is evidence in the literature that police leadership has been gradually transforming from a centralized and autocratic leadership style that was founded on integrity, wisdom, and courage to the one that includes effective teamwork, involvement of team members as well as shared leadership among the stakeholders. The researchers state that police institutions are allowing more guidance and less direct control.

Implementation of Leadership Philosophy as a Parent

Leadership concept is usually applicable not only in the professional, political, social or other spheres. The concept of leadership, its styles and characteristics are also common for personal life of people, parenthood in particular. Being a parent is often associated with being a leader for children, showing good example and guiding their behavior.

Different leadership styles that parents use in the process of bringing up their children are as different as leadership styles at work. For example, some parents use solely autocratic leadership philosophy when they force children to obediently follow all the rules established by both parents. On contrary, other parents give their children the possibility to make their own decisions and choices which may sometimes turn out to be a mistake.

Therefore, a good parent is a leader for his children who allows them enough freedom to participate in making decisions and life choices while preserving some general guidance and possibility to explain and share their own experience in order to make the children aware of potential consequences of their actions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted that there are numerous leadership philosophies as well as styles within every philosophy. All of them have many advantages and disadvantages in terms of effective accomplishment of set goals. Leadership is present in every sphere of life, at work, in politics, etc. Therefore, choosing correct leadership strategy would secure attainment of goals as well as effective and productive work.

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