Leading a group is something that requires an individual to apply many leading skills. Some people are naturally born as leaders but others acquire leading skills with time. Whether an individual has received formal training in leadership skills or not, the most important thing is that every good leader must have some specific leading skills. Leading skills differ from one individual to the other but almost the same principles of making decisions are applied in the same way by different leaders (Luen & Al-Hawamdeh, 2001). However, leading groups in criminal justice organizations are one of the most challenging tasks that a leader can have.
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A leader in the education sector does not play the same role as a leader in a business sector. A leader of a group of doctors does not experience the same challenges as a leader in a criminal justice organization. These examples imply that the challenges and roles of leaders in various organizations are not the same but they may be similar in one way or the other. This piece of work tries to analyze the challenges of leading groups in criminal justice organizations.
A group is simply described as a collection of more than one person. Members within an organization must be working together to achieve the same objectives and group members must also depend on one other especially on major decisions affecting the operations of the group (Sternberg, Forsythe & Hedlund, 2000). Leading groups in criminal justice systems is not a mean task and most leaders experience many challenges.
One of the challenges facing the leadership of groups in criminal justice systems is the ambiguity of roles. This challenge occurs when a leader is not sure of which tasks to perform within the organization. This challenge occurs because the process of administering justice is sometimes very complicated and when a leader is not keen, the leader may perform tasks that should be performed by other members of the group (Taormina, 1997).
Another challenge facing leaders of groups in criminal justice organizations is role overload. This challenge is experienced when members of a group expect a leader of the group to do more than the leader can afford to do. This is usually a major challenge especially in cases in which a court rules out that there is not enough evidence to be used in charging an individual who is suspected to have committed a crime. Most laws of various countries describe suspects as innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law (Van & Schein, 1979). Therefore group members of criminal justice organizations should understand how court systems within their countries work so as not to blame the group leaders whenever their cases fail to succeed in courts.
Role under-load is one of the challenges facing group leaders of criminal justice organizations. This happens when group members expect very little action from the group leader (Taormina, 1997). It is a big challenge to the group leaders because being a leader may be someone who is well qualified for the job and may be willing to work tirelessly to ensure that justice is applied where appropriate. In addition, in situations in which there are role under-loads, the group leaders usually feel underused and the group leader may not be effective.
Role under-load on leaders of criminal justice organizations occurs in situations in which lawyers within the organizations perform a task that should be done by their leaders. In most cases, these situations leave the group leaders with very little work to do and hence role under-load.
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Role conflict is a serious challenge facing leaders of criminal justice organizations. Role conflict is a situation that occurs when a leader of a group is not able to perform the roles as expected by other members of the group. This challenge is experienced when a group leader has good knowledge of what should be done but some obstacles prevent the leader from doing the required thing (Luen & Al-Hawamdeh, 2001).
For example, when a criminal offense has been committed against a person who is a member of a criminal justice organization, the group leader may fail to take the necessary steps as soon as possible with the fear that other people or organizations may believe that the group leader will be in favor of the group member when administering justice. This is a serious challenge facing leaders of groups in criminal justice organizations, but it can be avoided by applying good work ethics and administering justice without fear or favor. If a group leader appears to favor one side when resolving conflicts, people usually lose trust in such a leader, and thus proper leadership is compromised.
One aspect that a group leader should ensure is observed within an organization is the positive norm of a group. Positive norms are applicable in all types of groups and criminal justice organizations are not exempted from possessing positive norms. Positive norms simply mean that all group members of criminal justice organizations are behaving in the right way as they are expected to behave (Van & Schein, 1979).
It is the responsibility of the group leader to ensure that all other members behave acceptably. It can be very ironic when a member of a criminal justice organization behaves the same way as a criminal. This is why leaders in criminal justice organizations have challenges in ensuring that their group members do not behave like criminals. This is usually not a very easy task because some studies have shown that it is very easy for an individual to change characters to fit in a given environment while retaining the original personality. The person may once in a while compel an individual to act in a certain way that other people do not expect (Taormina, 1997). This shows that a group leader may try to change the characters of other group members but changing the personalities of group members is almost impossible.
Leaders of groups should not behave as managers who just want other people to work for them. Leaders should sometimes lead by example so that other members of the group can learn to do things the same way as their leaders. In other words, leaders should be able to influence other members to understand and even do what is supposed to be done. Leading groups in criminal justice organizations require people who have formal training in law or human rights issues to lead others effectively. The leaders in such organizations can also work very well if they have some leadership skills acquired through the experience of interacting with other leaders.
However, leaders who have formal training in criminal issues may be faced with challenges of leading other educated and well-informed members of the organizations who appear to have more knowledge of criminal justice than them. A very important leadership aspect that a leader of a group in a criminal justice organization should have is good investigative skills. Good investigating skills can help group leaders to carry out proper investigations on claims before presenting them in courts for justice to be done.
Some of the big challenges that are likely to be faced by leaders of groups in the criminal justice system are investigative risks. The risks are many but the most dangerous one is attacked by criminals who feel threatened by actions that group leaders may take against them whenever they are on the wrong side of the law. A criminal may attack and even kill a group leader who has initiated an investigation against the criminal so that the investigation can end.
This challenge is likely to make some leaders of groups in justice organizations fearful to an extent of affecting their leadership roles. Eliminating an investigator is an act that some criminal gangs believe is the only way of interfering with the evidence of their criminal activities and in some cases, the gangs can manage to get away with the acts without being noticed (Sternberg, Forsythe, & Hedlund, 2000).
In most countries, every suspect has a right to be represented by a layer. This is a challenge that is likely to be faced by leaders of groups in criminal justice organizations over the next five or more years. When someone who has committed a crime is wealthy, the person can higher services of lawyers who are well experienced in criminal justice systems, and their client may be set free on grounds that they are innocent (Van & Schein, 1979). The work of lawyers is usually to represent their clients in courts of law and argue out their cases to prove the innocence of their clients. This is a challenge that leaders in criminal justice organizations must try to overcome by encouraging their group members to work harder so that criminals who should either be fined or jailed are not set free.
Another challenge that leaders of groups in criminal justice organizations are likely to continue facing for the next five years or more is the lack of funds to support their operations (Taormina, 1997). Very few finance organizations are willing to donate funds to criminal justice organizations. It is obvious that when an organization is experiencing financial difficulties the activities of such organization cannot go on as planned. This may make leaders of such organizations to be viewed as failures in their duties.
To overcome the challenges that have been mentioned above, any leader of a group must be flexible when performing roles of leadership. Flexibility is an essential aspect of leadership because the methods used to solve some problems cannot be the same methods used to solve other problems. A good group leader should therefore be very flexible in thinking and modes of doing things. In addition, justice cannot be achieved if biases and favors are involved in the justice process.
It is because of this reason that all investigations concerning crimes should be thoroughly done and all the available evidence presented in courts of law so that court rulings can be based on valid evidence and hence justice can always be done. Leading groups in criminal justice organizations is usually not easy because of the challenges described above, but it can be made easier if group leaders consider some of the ways of overcoming challenges as explained in this piece of work.
Luen, W. & Al-Hawamdeh, S. (2001). Knowledge management in the public sector: principles and practices in police work. Journal of Information Science, 27(5):311–318.
Sternberg, L., Forsythe, B. & Hedlund, J. (2000). Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Taormina, J. (1997). Organizational socialization: a multidomain, continuous process model. International Journal of Selection and Assessment 5(1): 29–47.
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Van, J. & Schein, E. (1979). Towards a theory of organizational socialization. Research in Organizational Behavior 1: 209–264.