Critically reflect on your current and/or future potential contribution to social work leadership in a specific area of practice whether this be research, policy development, macro level advocacy, community action, organisational and staff management, or direct client work in a specific area of service delivery. Your critical reflection should include a discussion of your interest and/or experience in this particular area of practice to date, current literature on leadership in this area, and integration of relevant leadership theory.
The field of social work is a complex field that has gone through diversification. Therefore, I believe that leadership theory has an importance in the field. Social workers should develop leadership capabilities, in order to bring in a change within an institute, organization, and even with an individual. The body of literature that is concerned with the social work leadership was articulated in the 1980s. The literature, although had, found its momentum in the last decade. According to various theories on social work, social workers should be imbibed with those skills and knowledge that will help them to meet the individual and the community needs. Social work provides importance to values and ethics, to meet the needs of the community or the individual. It is often influenced by the economic and political decision, which is why leadership has an importance in the field of social work. I have gained this knowledge while working with the students, in my school. I had led the groups of students and had played board games with them, and I realized that the leadership capability in me had influenced my students in a positive way.
Body of the Essay
Justification of the Selected Area of Practice for Social Work:
I have always longed to be a part of the school social work practice, therefore, when I was offered this role, during my placement, I did not hesitate and joined immediately. If we look back, we will see that the school social work is quite an old profession. For over 100 years or more, in countries like North America and various other countries, people had been employed as a school social worker. School is such an institutional body, which can be conceptualized both as an educational centre and as a community, where there are people from various other communities. Thus, a school social worker is such a leader who helps the young people in their social and emotional development. I, as a school social worker, faced many challenges, which include things like child abuse and neglect. Therefore, I had to be in touch, not only with the students but at the same time with the parents as well. Development of the children of diverse cultural and economical background means that there should be the correct implementation of the educational policies. I believe all these factors had developed an interest in me, which is why when I had to play the role of the school social worker I was very happy with it. There are various school social work models, but I have always preferred the “Home-school-community relations model” (Patti 2016). I have chosen this particular model because I believe that this particular model will help me to draw components from the other disciplinary models that are there. I think this particular model has provided me with flexibility, and therefore, I could easily negotiate with every student and found out the problems that they are facing in their families as well as in their communities. I have found that this particular model has allowed me to adopt the transformational leadership style, which allows my students to follow my actions. I could very well influence them and bring a positive change in them. Thus, these are mainly the reasons why I have adopted this particular area of practice for social work.
Knowledge and understanding of the transformational leadership theory and its relation to School Social Work:
The Council on Social Work Education values the leadership development and the strategic plan of the council, for the session 1998-2000, had address the leadership theory at the same time. In recent time, leadership is valuable for the social work profession, because there have been many changes in the human society (Rank & Hutchison 2016). The changes are not only social or the economical changes, but changes related to demographic factors and the political changes are also included in it. Social work profession is largely depended on the human service delivery. Therefore, the changes in these fields could bring a diverse change in the human service delivery, which had in brought a change in the field of social work as well. The field of social work is research oriented and complex (McDonald & Chenoweth 2009). Thus, leadership has a vital role to play in this particular field.
Social work is affected by several other different factors as well. Some of these factors are privatization, globalization, the increase in the gap between the rich and poor, welfare reform and the internet. According to the present day critics social work exist in a hostile environment. Therefore, effective leadership capability of the social worker is important in the present day scenario, although it has a conflict with the traditional theory of social work (Fronek, Fowler & Clarke 2016). The theories that I read about social work made me support the fact that leadership has its importance in social work.
I have been working for around one year in a school, and there I have to work with the groups of students. The students in the school are not only from different community but also at the same time; they are from diverse economical background as well. I play board games with them and lead the group of the students. I am concerned about the potential, abilities and the skills of my student. I want to develop their skills and potential and want to improve their self-esteem and efficacy. Therefore, to me transformational leadership style is the best leadership style. Transformational leaders could very easily understand the skills and abilities of their followers. The leaders are the mentors of their followers so that they could develop their skills and abilities and at the same time overcome their weaknesses. I lead the group of students in the school, inspire the unity of my group and at the same time provide equal treatment to all the members who are there in the group. Transformational leadership has helped me to develop common beliefs and values, among the student. I have seen that the transformational leadership quality is not only there in me; rather it is being adopted by most of the social workers working in the schools. According to various researches, it has been found out that most of the school social worker supports the transformational leadership style. Transformational leadership style had encouraged and energized them and they feel that they could make a difference in the school community (Cossin & Caballero 2016). The particular leadership style has helped in lessening the herculean task of both the teachers and the students. It has helped both the students and the teachers, and helped the school community to come up with positive outcome. The word “teacher leader” has become very popular in most of the schools around the world. The school administration now provides importance to adopting leadership models by both the teachers and the school social worker. The schools having students from the low-income level groups are now coming up with better outcomes, because they are providing importance to leadership capability of the school social worker.
(Figure 1: The Schools with the Students of Low Income Level Background are Coming up with Positive Outcomes
Source : Transforming Schools: How Distributed Leadership Can Create More High-Performing Schools - Bain Brief2016))
Clear interpretation and critical analysis of the literature on leadership
Leaders within the organization or in the institute, has the capability to work in a creative as well as in a constructive way. The leadership capabilities of the social workers help them to work in an effective way with the individuals, groups, organizations, families as well as with the communities. The present day social workers should play the managerial role and thus they should develop leadership capabilities. The present day scenario is different from the scenario that was there few decades back (Miller & Miller 2016). Today social work has become complex, the social workers has to look after at multiple perspective. Thus, today the “non-traditional component” of social work is of utmost importance; so, leadership theory and its practice and the social work leaders have gain significance in the present era. The social work leaders, by definition, should inspire vision and at the same time should offer direction and support to the individual and the collective society as a whole. The social work leaders should have certain leadership capability in them, which are:
Capability of Gaining Self-Knowledge: The social worker should understand the professional mission, vision, as well as the values, principles and the ethics of the organization. The social worker should monitor his/her own professional practice (Tafvelin, Hyvonen & Westerberg 2012). The monitoring of the professional practice is possible through various kinds of research methodologies and techniques.
Capability of thinking creatively and critically: The skill of applying critical thinking within the context of social work is important and thus most of the social work leaders should give importance to it. Effective use of theoretical framework, which is being supported by the empirical evidence, is important; it will help the social worker to understand the development, as well as the behavior and the interaction that is there across a life span. The social work leaders are responsible for both analyzing and formulating the social policies that are there. The leaders in the social work should be able to evaluate the social work research and should apply it to practice at the same time.
Capability of Using Effective Communication Skills: The communication skills are important in the field of social work. The social workers or the social work leaders should communicate in an effective way with the individuals, groups as well as with the families (Tafvelin, Hyvonen & Westerberg 2012). Effective communication has a contextual impact as well. Therefore, the social work leaders should effectively use both the verbal as well as the non-verbal mode of communication. Effective communication skill would help the individual to establish a mutual respect and trust between the individual. The two factors are those things that have its importance not only in the field of social work but also in the other fields at the same time. If the social workers try to bring a change within a group or community or even within an individual, then that is possible only through effective communication. The social workers should effectively communicate, verbally, non-verbally, orally and even through written documents.
Capability of showing respect to others: Social workers have to work within such a community where there are people from different organization. I believe, and various researches have proved that the while working in a society filled with people of diverse culture, and economical background, one must possess the capability of showing respect to others. The social worker should not only respect his/her own culture but at the same time should show respect to different cultures and communities as well.
Capability of working in a team: The researches have proved that the leaders should have the capability of working in a team. In social work, I have seen with my own experience, teamwork is important. One cannot bring in changes without effective teamwork. Therefore, to develop such a team it is important for the social work leaders, to develop a relationship with the other team members. The leader should respect and acknowledge the work of the other team members and while taking any decision should consult the team members at the same time. Therefore, I feel although I am now relying only on the transformational leadership model, the school social work model that I have chosen, will allow me to incorporate the democratic leadership model at the same time.
The present day schools have problems and it is a fact that the schools know. I have worked in a school and my experience had told me that most of the time the schools wait for a super human, who will rescue them from their problems. If the social workers, who work in the school, adopt the perfect leadership style then I believe that trying to put an end to the problems that most of the schools are facing will end. I believe, today leadership theory not only remain associated with the theory or the concept of management, but today it is something more than that. Today the definition of social work has changed as well and this changing definition of social work has encouraged the leadership theory to be a part of the social work practice. Honestly, I believe that this incorporation has indeed helped the social workers and had enriched the social work, and in my case the school social work practice even more.
Cossin, P & Caballero, D 2016, Transformational Leadership Background Literature Review, 1st edn, viewed 25 July 2016.
Fronek, P, Fowler, J & Clarke, J 2016, Reflecting on reflection, leadership and social work: Social work students as developing leaders, 1st edn, viewed 25 July 2016.
McDonald, C & Chenoweth, L 2009, "Leadership: A Crucial Ingredient in Unstable Times", in , Social Work & Society, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 102-112, viewed 25 July 2016
Miller, W & Miller, J 2016, Leadership Styles for Success in Collaborative Work, 1st edn, viewed 25 July 2016.
Patti, R 2016, The Handbook of Human Services Management, in , Google Books, viewed 25 July 2016.
RANK, M & HUTCHISON, W 2016, AN ANALYSIS OF LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE SOCIAL WORKPROFESSION., in , Freepatentsonline.com, viewed 25 July 2016.
Tafvelin, S, Hyvonen, U & Westerberg, K 2012, "Transformational Leadership in the Social Work Context: The Importance of Leader Continuity and Co-Worker Support", in , British Journal of Social Work, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 886-904, viewed 25 July 2016.
Transforming Schools: How Distributed Leadership Can Create More High-Performing Schools - Bain Brief 2016, viewed 25 July 2016.