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There is a difference between an act of leadership an act of management. Exactly where the difference lies depends on who is speaking. In general, acts of leadership are those activities necessary to define the destination of the organization (i.e., the bigger picture), while acts of management are those necessary for making the trip a reality (i.e., determining what compass points by which to steer). These skills should not be considered mutually exclusive, though. Individuals can possess both the skills to lead and the skills to manage. However, many organizations, correctional institutions included, may confuse leadership skills with management skills.

When this occurs, the results can be extremely restrictive organizational structures caused by detail-laden management being mistaken for leadership. Remember, management skills are good at the smaller pictures, which combine to make sense of the larger picture, and leadership skills are those that lose sight of the smaller pictures and focus on the larger picture.

To understand what this type of imbalance looks like, it may be beneficial to briefly examine how these two very different skills balance each other out. While the leaders point out the direction, the managers are busy providing, guiding and directing the organizational energy toward the desired end. The manifestation of leadership/management imbalances in organizations can be commonly witnessed in daily functions. One of the most obvious organizational ailments caused by imbalances can be seen in the battles being fought among its members. Too many managers and organizational members spend an inordinate amount of time defending territory by arguing that their way is the best way. Too many leaders and members spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with emergency after emergency rather than operating pro-actively. Too few leaders leads to turf wars and too few managers leads to a confused operating environment grappling with plans for the future. Both conditions reduce organizational effectiveness.

Some organizations sacrifice the leadership function for management-oriented approaches to governing. Ultimately, this hinders their ability to respond to changes because a vision of the future is sacrificed to the details of the day. However, the act of defining the future, of visioning, is not limited to the highest levels of management. Leaders are needed at all levels of the organization. Successful, dynamic organizations capable of maintaining vitality need this balance to maximize their performance and meet the demands of a changing environment.


The correctional industry, like many other public and private sector industries, tends to promote individuals who have a high degree of management skills into leadership positions. This is because management acumen is highly prized and the skills of management are the most obvious of the two. For the most part, these skills are measurable in performance analysis, financial analysis, skills assessments and the like. Leadership, however, is not easily identified and is commonly associated with certain linear personal traits. Leadership is not traditionally easily defined, nor is it statistically measurable. Consequently, leaders are not always identified as such and their roles are not of obvious value in many organizations. When there is an imbalance of managers over leaders, the result frequently is a lopsided organization that forgets its overriding goal for the sake of polishing its immediate appearance. The function of problem-solving in such an organization becomes a problem in its own right.

It is helpful to realize that leadership, as mentioned, does not only take place at the highest levels of organizations, and it should not be thought of as a one-dimensional collection of traits existing within a few people at the top. Organizational leaders, formally recognized or not, excel at addressing certain need areas. This is what makes them leaders. These need areas are discussed in greater detail below. However, many managers miss these acts of leadership that take place around them, dismiss them, or worse yet, interpret them as threats to their positions, particularly if these acts occur beneath them in the organization. All too often, leadership is misunderstood to be legitimate power as opposed to personal power.

Some leaders, particularly the most well-known, rise to positions having a great deal of visibility and legitimate power. However, leadership is not limited to those with this organizationally sanctioned legitimate power. In function, an offer of leadership by an individual is accepted or rejected based on the potential leader's perceived ability to achieve his or her followers' goals. This is where the difference between personal and legitimate organizational power lies: Leaders are selected by their followers as a means to achieve perceived needs or goals. If we accept this to be true, then we are confronted with two corollaries. First, the identified goal also can be understood as an identified need.

Second, the identified need has been communicated. The focus here is on the first component.

Further, we find that leaders are not necessarily those with legitimate organizational power, but rather those who have personal power and influence. Frequently, these individuals are without any legitimate organizational power. Management consultant Francis Kinsman says, "This does not mean that any particular individual's talents are good or bad or average, but merely that they are appropriate or inappropriate to the condition." This is a key distinction between personal and legitimate power. It is implied that leadership is fluid.

Simply stated, the type of leadership called for in one situation may not be the type of leadership called for in another. Obviously, consideration of this conclusion leads one to factor in the follower, or group being led. Paul Hersey agreed in his 1998 book, Leaders and the Leadership Process. "There is no one best style of leadership, or way to influence people," he writes. This places the focus of leadership not on the leader, but where it truly should be, on the led.


It is not followers' willingness to be led that is the qualifier -- although it is very important -- but the followers' specific leadership needs (i.e., their personal goals or needs). In order to better understand this, it may be helpful to group human need into three loose but neat categories which, it can be said, are common to mankind: preservation, metaneeds and future.

Preservation encompasses a broad range of issues, such as food, clothing and water. However, this need category extends to issues of personal status. It concerns the here and now. Currencies in this category include information. Rumor mills foster opportunity for some individuals to address this category of leadership need.

Meta-needs address our spiritual side. Things in life get their meanings largely from influences in this area. People seek reasons for their parts in the grand scheme of things. This area may be the most deficient in manager-heavy organizations.

The future is where personal material goals meet with organizational ability to compensate. It also includes professional accomplishment and career development. Needs in this category include understanding what the future should look like, given the right circumstances, events and actions. Leadership needs are typically met from above in organizations. Again, though, we should not conclude that this type of leadership flows exclusively from the top.

By understanding the three-category framework as a template, given the right tools, top organizational management can examine and analyze the existing condition of its organization in order to identify overdetermined or underdetermined leadership approaches. The results of this process can then be compared to the results of the same approach to analysis of the strategic objectives of the organization. This is particularly helpful for managers to understand if there are new initiatives being introduced into their organizations that are component pieces of larger goals. What will result is an inventory of leadership possessed by the organization and a shopping list of the abilities the organization needs in the future.


One device, the Perceptual Leadership Inventory Audit, is designed to give managers an understanding of where the leadership resides within an organization. Because leadership is "perceived," it can be concluded that it is actual. Here's how it works.

If there is a new program or initiative being introduced, managers should determine where the key organizational breaking points of the initiative reside. Those are the points that will largely determine the success or failure of the program. The type of program is not relevant; it can be a new suggestion program or an entire organizational culture overhaul. Once identified, those key points should be given close consideration, given the results of the second step.

Step two requires wider involvement. Have every individual (or at least several individuals) at each level in the organization draw an organizational chart showing his or her level and the one above and one below him or her (where applicable). Have participants draw each box in proportion to the amount of influence (or personal power) the occupant of each box has with the next level above him or her and with peers. Smaller boxes represent lesser influence and larger boxes represent greater influence. It is important to clarify that it is influence and not popularity that is being sought. Use a scale of box sizes ranging from one to five, with three being the normal amount of influence expected by a person in that position. Administer this exercise to members of each level independent of one another. It is important to maintain as much anonymity as possible. It is equally important not to broadcast the exercise beforehand. Also, as small a group as possible should have any knowledge of it prior to the exercise.

After complete administration, collect the charts. Average the score for each box (divide the number of participants by the cumulative total). An average score of more than three indicates a larger than normal amount of influence (or personal power). An average of less than three indicates a lower than normal amount of influence. Compare the resulting perceived leadership inventory scale organizational chart to the key points defined beforehand showing where the greater levels of influence are desired.

Then there are five questions a management team should ask itself:

1. Are the power centers where they are needed and desired?

2. If the goal is implementation of organizational strategy, are the power centers in the most strategic positions?

3. Is there an appropriate diversity of management and leadership styles and personal abilities distributed in the spectrum?

4. What are the strengths of the existing power structure?

5. What are the structure's weaknesses?

This inventory was developed to be used by management teams to assess perceived (therefore real, arguably) power structure. Answers to question five will give the direction needed for the organization in order to better utilize the leadership skills available within the organization. Changes brought about by the new understanding this tool provides will result in organizations being better balanced. With this knowledge, managers can perform the fine tuning needed to foster high-performance organizations ready to embrace the changing nature of today's world.

Paul L. Martin is associate warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif.


Hersey, Paul. 1994. Situational Leadership. In Leaders and the leadership process, eds. Jon L. Price and John W. Newstrom. Chicago: Irwin.

Kinsman, Francis. 1993. Leadership from alongside. In Transforming leadership: From vision to results, ed. John D. Adams. Alexandria, Va.: Miles River Press.
Goal 1 Develop an easily managed, Technically fluent, articulate
 yet effective, program individual with organizational
Goal 2 Roll program out Identify potential high-impact
Coal 3 Create early success Morale Issues and champions of morale
Goal 4 Communicate success Entry into informal communication
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 1999
Previous Article:Professional Development For Correctional Staff.

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