“An Analysis of Leadership in the Social Work Profession,” a study of 150 random deans, executive directors, and organization presidents concerning attitudes about leadership, states, “Leadership Development is a core concern of the Council on Social Work Education.” The study goes on to list the 5 elements of leadership in social work that were common across all responses: proaction, values and ethics, empowerment, vision, and communication.
In my personal experience, a review of literature on leadership does not turn up much that draws from, or relates to, leadership in a social work context. It is mostly organizational, business, or governmental arenas that produce the hallmark works on effective leadership. Social work can certainly draw from these sources. A social worker that works in an administrative or government position would certainly find value in leadership principles drawn from those contexts. It is apparent, if not undeniable, however, that leadership in social work would have key differences in motivation and approach than these other areas would. Referring back to the aforementioned study, key differences that set social work leadership apart from other areas of leadership include commitment to ethics, altruism, and a participatory style.
In this week’s debate is on leadership and social work. Consider the following questions:
Is there a leadership philosophy or style that is unique to social work? If so, describe it.
Is leadership important in social work today? How?
Who is responsible for developing social work leadership?
What should be the primary focus of social work leadership? What are the positive and negative sources of pressure on the profession toward/away from this focus?
Where are social workers’ leadership efforts best utilized?
Define leadership in social work in your own words.
Join us and share your views and experiences regarding these and other relevant questions @SWSCmedia Wednesdays @ 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST.
Rank, M.G., Hutchison, W.S. (2000). An Analysis of Leadership in the Social Work
Profession. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3). Retrieved from http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Journal-Social-Work-Education/66107626.html.