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Leadership Styles in Correctional Facilities

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Effective leadership of a correction facility is important in many aspects. A correctional facility may attract more scrutiny than other organizations from the media, courts and politicians. The negative effect of a poorly managed facility is widespread. There are several styles of leadership a person may choose to implement, and an effective leadership style must be able to meet the many challenges of managing a correction facility.

Quick Problem Resolution

A willingness and competency to quickly and effectively resolve problems works well at a correctional facility. This style of leadership involves an awareness of possible problems or situations; observing all areas of responsibility; developing, implementing and evaluating specific procedures or strategies for quick problem resolution; as well as continually observing all areas of responsibility. A leader of a correctional facility must understand that unsolved problems are likely to escalate and quickly become uncontrollable. These types of escalated situations may lead to serious issues, including physical danger. Quick and relentless problem solving can lead a safe and calm environment.


Leading with integrity is an essential leadership style when managing a correctional facility. A person who is working in the criminal justice system is typically held to a higher moral and ethical standards. A leader also has the responsibility to create an environment in which the employees are conscientious about following an established code of ethics, and are striving to behave in an ethical manner. Leading by example is a beneficial method of implementing integrity, as is setting clear expectations of any rules and regulations to be followed. Another beneficial way to incorporate integrity is to train the employees, discipline those who display unacceptable behavior, and praise or reward those who continually uphold the ethical standards.


Communication is necessary when leading a correctional facility. A leader must have effective communication procedures in place to properly convey essential rules, values and other information with all internal and external people attached to the organization. Without communication, a facility can encounter serious problems which could be avoided. An effective leader will communicate in a positive and persuasive manner while leaving no room for doubt regarding authority. An element of effective communication is listening. A leader who is skilled in listening with comprehension and empathy can expect fewer problems and negative situations, better productivity and teamwork and the possibility for innovative and useful ideas or suggestions from employees and other people in the organization.

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