UHD’s Department of Criminal Justice hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Leadership in Criminal Justice Organizations: A Unique Organizational Culture,” on Tuesday in the Robertson Auditorium.
The panel included Rick Hartley, executive director of The 100 Club; Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman; Henry Gonzales, Executive Assistant Director of Harris County Juvenile Probation Department; and Inspector Vicki King. Moderated by criminal justice professor Beth Pelz, the panelists discussed the pillars of successful leadership, illustrated unique challenges of criminal justice leaders, and cautioned against common pitfalls to success.
Here are some of the highlights of that discussion:
On changes to the criminal justice leadership model
“Education is now pivotal for rising in the ranks,” said Hartley. “Fortunately, leadership styles have shifted from autocratic to more participatory management; leaders are more accessible to their subordinates and constituents today than they were 20 years ago.”
On the use of technology in crime prevention and safety efforts
“Departments are increasingly challenged by population increases,” said Hickman. “Feasibly, we cannot hire at the same rate as the citizenship, especially in Houston. Technology works as a force multiplier – allowing practitioners to work more effectively and efficiently and to meet the demands of the public by lowering response times. Big data analytics make it possible for different agencies to share information on a regional level, as well.”
On what makes a good leader
“People report to managers, but they follow leaders,” said Gonzales. “If you want to evaluate your leadership, look behind you. If people aren’t following you, you’re doing it wrong.”
“The most important decision you make as a leader is to identify emerging leaders, then to encourage and provide them with opportunities to develop,” Hickman said. “That’s how you ensure the continuity of your organization.”
“Continually reinforce your organization’s values,” King said. “Any successful leader displays honesty, integrity and a fair but firm approach.”
On the greatest mistakes to avoid
“Inconsistency, hands down,” said Hickman. “You have to be consistent in your expectations and demeanor across the ranks, or you will lose the respect of your team.”
“You will quickly fail with a ‘not my problem’ attitude,” warned King. “Accept responsibility for either finding or delegating someone to find solutions to the issues.”
“Stay humble,” Hartley advised. “Remember your beginnings. You’re not the greatest slice of bread in the loaf. Everyone has something to offer, and you need a group of advisers to keep that in check.”