In the attempt to institute an adaptive change, it is imperative for criminal justice leaders to acquire the ability to hold steady. Holding steady when the action is at its hottest ensures that the leader stays alive while maintaining people’s focus on the work. This essay examines examples of criminal justice leaders holding steady while instituting adaptive change in their organizations.
One of the primary steps in holding steady is learning how to take the heat. Taking the heat refers to the leader receiving the anger directed towards him or her and not losing their cool. The leader should avoid becoming personally defensive to create a sense of trust. Although it is difficult for a leader to take abuse from his allies, one good example of how to handle this is given by August Vollmer who is regarded as the pioneer of police professionalism. In his attempts at the reorganization of the Berkeley police force into an ethical organization, he often faced discord from within his ranks. However, he did not take these attacks personally. Instead, he persisted with the development of an ethical code eventually succeeding in revolutionizing the force.
A criminal justice leader must also allow issues to ripen, which calls for patience. For example in political issues, criminal justice leaders must learn to wait until the right moment to address them. An example is that of J. Edgar Hoover and the issue of Harry Dexter White, a man widely considered a Soviet spy. The arrest of White, a senior government official would have been an important political issue. However, Hoover managed to avoid it by advocating White’s retention in office since it was not the proper time to arrest him.
In conclusion, holding steady permits a leader time to allow issues to ripen or develop a strategy. By taking the heat, leaders also gain the support of their followers. This loyalty is critical to the success of any adaptive change measure.
Heifetz, R., & Linsky, M. (2002). Hold Steady. In R. Heifetz, & M. Linsky, Leadership on the line: staying alive through the dangers of leading (pp. 141-162). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.