Date of Award



© 2018 Paul Gonzalez

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Burbank

Second Advisor

Shelley McClure

Third Advisor

Keith Phillips


Since its inception in 1930, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has experienced tremendous growth in its inmate population. Concluding 1930 with 14 federal prisons, the Bureau of Prisons now maintains 122 federal prisons, and is accountable for over 180,000 federal offenders within federal prisons walls and within contracted correctional centers. The federal inmate population has also grown in diversity, and training offered by the Bureau of Prisons to its employees has not transformed in a manner that addresses the rise in offender diversity. Officers are left to independently devise various leadership styles to meet the needs of the organization. Bureau of Prison refresher training directs correctional staff to be consistent in methodologies regarding inmate management, but since correctional officers are developing individualized leadership styles of what works, leadership uniformity and best practices are not formally identified or administered. Literature involving correctional officer leadership varies regarding the sample of perceived leaders and much of the information surrounding successful leadership gravitates toward specific leadership traits.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine leadership styles used by federal correctional officers as they try to influence cooperative compliance in their facilities. The identification of the most effective leadership styles used by correctional officers provides opportunities for the development of leadership training for correctional staff, increases the possibility for more effective methods of managing inmate behavior, and may strengthen correctional officer safety. Six work-supervisors, from Western regional federal prisons within the United States, who hold positions that consist of skill-set trainer and correctional officer, were used for this inquiry of effective leadership styles. Eight leadership theories were used to examine the leadership styles of each work-supervisor. These leadership theories included: (a) Situational Leadership, (b) Path Goal Leadership, (c) Leader Member Exchange, (d) Transformational Leadership, (e) Servant Leadership, (f) Team Leadership, (g) Gender Leadership, (h) Social Equality, and (i) Transactional Leadership.


Ed.D. Dissertation