Swanson, Territo, and Taylor (2016) cite four leadership theories that they characterize as the “new” ones. They are geared towards a more ethics-based approach to leadership and emphasize the importance of moral decision-making (Zhu, Zheng, Riggio, & Zhang, 2015). It appears that all the theories have their merits, which makes them eligible for use in a law enforcement organization, but I would choose servant leadership (SRL) for its emphasis on employee development.
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SRL is discussed by Swanson et al. (2016) in great detail. It is characterized by leaders who are focused on the needs and empowerment of followers. Consequently, the major features of SRL include skills like listening and healing and abilities like awareness and empathy; the primary goal of a servant leader is to care for their followers (Martin, Rogers, Samuel, & Rowling, 2017; Swanson et al., 2016). According to Swanson et al. (2016), there is some evidence indicating that SRL can be effective in augmenting certain organizational parameters, including job satisfaction and performance. However, the authors mention criticisms, including the possibility of gender bias and the lack of focus on organizational needs, and demonstrate that there are some drawbacks to SRL.
Spiritual leadership (SPL) is also considered by Swanson et al. (2016). It is based on the values that are found in religious texts or codes of ethics. Consequently, SPL can help employees in gaining a sense of meaning and may promote ethical conduct. Swanson et al. (2016) report that some evidence supports the effectiveness of SPL in raising job satisfaction and morale, which may improve employees’ performance. However, they also highlight the fact that most SPL research is composed of case studies. More investigation is required for conclusive statements.
Authentic leadership (AL) is the third theory discussed by Swanson et al. (2016). It is built upon the notion of “authenticity,” which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, recognition of other people and circumstances, and various moral values (Swanson et al., 2016; Zhu et al., 2015). AL can combine the features of multiple approaches to leadership. However, this factor is connected to an issue: according to Swanson et al. (2016), there is no specific definition of AL, which limits the effectiveness of research on the topic.
The fourth approach considered by Swanson et al. (2016) is ethical leadership (EL), which is based upon moral values and concerned with leaders leading by example, being caring and altruistic, and using ethical approaches to decision-making (Swanson et al., 2016; Zhu et al., 2015).
Moreover, moral managers are supposed to ensure the ethical conduct of their employees through relevant disciplinary measures. Swanson et al. (2016) suggest that the latter feature defines EL and indicate that it is beneficial for the responsible behaviors of corporate citizens, as well as other positive outcomes like job satisfaction. However, the authors highlight the fact that the research on EL is not very extensive.
From my perspective, the law enforcement can benefit from SRL to a particularly notable extent. The focus on followers and their empowerment, which is most beneficial for a law enforcement organization, is particularly attractive to me. Indeed, I would like to be led by an employer who encourages my development, and I would work to develop my followers since I believe that human resources are the most important ones for an organization. The improvement of professionalism, morale, trust, commitment, and motivation that is associated with SRL is also significant for law enforcement (Martin et al., 2017; Miao, Newman, Schwarz, & Xu, 2014). Consequently, I find SRL especially effective in my settings.
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Thus, the four approaches to leadership are supposed to have beneficial impacts on multiple follower outcomes, which should result in improved performance. However, there is not enough evidence to make conclusive statements about the relative effectiveness of the theories. I would prefer to lead and be led through SRL, and I find it particularly suitable for a law enforcement organization due to its focus on follower empowerment. However, the rest of the approaches may also be helpful depending on circumstances because they have their merits.
Martin, H., Rogers, C., Samuel, A., & Rowling, M. (2017). Serving from the top: Police leadership for the twenty-first century. International Journal of Emergency Services, 6(3), 209-219. Web.
Miao, Q., Newman, A., Schwarz, G., & Xu, L. (2014). Servant leadership, trust, and the organizational commitment of public sector employees in China. Public Administration, 93(3), 727–743. Web.
Swanson, C. R., Territo, L., & Taylor, R. L. (2016). Police administration: Structures, processes, and behavior (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Zhu, W., Zheng, X., Riggio, R., & Zhang, X. (2015). A critical review of theories and measures of ethics-related leadership. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2015(146), 81-96. Web.