Academic journal article Federal Probation

Leadership and Its Impact on Organizations

Academic journal article Federal Probation

Leadership and Its Impact on Organizations

Article excerpt

THE FEDERAL JUDICIAL Center's Leadership Development Program teaches and develops leadership skills in participants through a combination of formal instruction, project-based learning, and one-on-one interaction with faculty mentors. During the course of the three-year program, participants formulate and carry out three major projects: a management practices report, an in-district improvement project, and a temporary duty assignment. The following article was prepared as a management practices report-the objective of which is to gain a better understanding of the meaning of leadership and the impact that leaders and managers have on their organizations. For those employed in the field of community corrections, leadership is one resource that is not limited by budgetary constraints. Leadership is renewable and, more importantly, a resource that positively impacts community corrections on all levels- from clients to employees to organizations.

Have you ever tried to bake a cake from scratch? For some, such an undertaking comes naturally. For others, it requires a great deal of concentration. Regardless of the effort utilized, most cakes generally require the same basic ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, and eggs. Although the same ingredients are generally used in most cakes, outcomes vary. Too much of one ingredient or too little of another or the addition of one ingredient too soon or too late directly impacts the quality of the cake that you ultimately pull out of the oven. One thing is for sure, although recipes vary, each of us knows a good cake when we taste one.

For many, the path to baking a great cake may start with a review of cookbooks authored by experts in the field of baking cakes and a related search for what they consider to be the "best" cake recipe. However, this tactic does not guarantee success. A further step down the path to baking a great cake might be to seek out those who have successfully baked great cakes and take the time to discuss with each baker their personal recipes and the skills that they found most helpful in baking great cakes.

As odd as it may sound, I have come to think that developing leadership is like baking a cake. The path to successful leadership also begins with a review of literature authored by experts in the field of leadership, followed by discussions of leadership with those who serve or have served as managers and leaders in various organizations. Such a course of action, as I have personally experienced, makes it much easier to follow the often hidden path to leadership in the real world in which we live. However, even when made easier to follow, the path to leadership remains challenging and will always "end" at a spot just over the horizon.

After a detailed review of selected management and leadership-related articles and books authored during the last 25 years, I discussed the concept of leadership with three very different experts in the field of leadership, individuals with varied backgrounds who each possess a wealth of leadership-related knowledge. First, I spoke with Meg Rintoul, who has been employed as the Manager of Commodity Services and Budgeting at Siemens Industry, Inc., in Columbia, South Carolina, for five years. Meg supervises 12 employees who are located in both Columbia, South Carolina, and London, England. Next, I spoke with Jerry Vahl, who was employed as the President of Western Reserve Life and the Vice President of Aegon USA Holding Company from about 1991 to 2004, leading a total of 1,500 employees at various locations throughout the United States. Last, I spoke with Waylyn McCulloh, who has been employed in the field of community-based corrections for nearly 40 years, serving the past six and a half years as the Assistant Director for the Seventh Judicial District Department of Correctional Services in Davenport, Iowa. Waylyn has served as a supervisor and manager of pretrial release services, residential facilities, and probation/ parole field offices. …

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