Leadership and You
By Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW
One of NASW’s
commitments, in its new strategic plan, is advancing excellence in social work
leadership. Several years ago, I wrote an NASW News column, "Transformative
Social Work Leadership." I spoke about the importance of transformative
leadership for social workers and how this leadership style is congruent with
the values articulated in the NASW Code of Ethics.
I believe the most
successful social work leaders transform and motivate team members through
idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individual consideration and
intellectual stimulation. They improve the work by improving the worker.
Leaders must generate
enthusiasm and optimism for their vision and serve as role models for highly
ethical behavior. They instill admiration, respect and trust in their team
members and influence others to want to emulate their leadership. They set
ambitious goals and lead others on the journey. And they address obstacles but
do not focus on barriers to success.
Leaders must instill
confidence, belief in the cause, and high expectations for followers. They
provide meaning to the challenge and build a sense of hope and accomplishment
in team members. They set high standards, communicate optimism about reaching
goals, and make the vision understandable, precise, powerful and engaging. The
team moves forward with a strong sense of purpose.
Leaders know their
team members, coach and mentor them, and provide opportunities for them to meet
their personal goals. The most successful leaders listen to the needs of team
members and consider other points of view in decision-making. These leaders
must be able to recognize what motivates each team member and provide
for people to grow and become
fulfilled in their positions.
Leaders value and
encourage innovation and creativity, as well as critical thinking and
problem-solving. They stimulate team members by questioning assumptions,
reframing problems and approaching old situations in new ways. They nurture and
develop people. Team members are actively involved in the decision-making
leadership model is well-suited for social workers leading individual,
community, organizational and societal change. People admire leaders who awaken
their curiosity, challenge them to think and learn, and encourage openness to
new, inspiring ideas and alternatives.
They appreciate being
to try new approaches, not
being criticized when their ideas differ from the leader’s, and being respected
and celebrated for
contributions they make to the team.
In essence, social
workers are made for transformative leadership.