Leadership and Leadership Development
- James WooleverJames WooleverAcademic Provost, Dean Professional Studies Program, Menlo College
- and James KellyJames KellyMenlo College
The study of leadership has a long history in disciplines outside of social work. Theorists have struggled with a myriad of definitions of leadership, as well as trait, behavioral, and situational leadership models. They have identified leadership types from transformational and charismatic to motivational. There has been much speculation and some study of the traits and characteristics of effective leaders, as well as effective leadership styles, abilities, and practices. Social work theorists have contributed to this field by identifying the critical and unique characteristics of social work leadership, such as adherence to social work norms and orientation to the needs of disadvantaged groups. In the 21st century, social workers have begun to elaborate technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices such as formal training, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been, and will be, a critical need for leadership in social work endeavors. Leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and the organizational. From the individual perspective, the system begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, along with the opportunities and threats for professional growth. Ultimately, the organization is responsible for providing resources to enable individual development. The long-term goal is to implement a developmental mind-set throughout the organization. Leadership development must be intended for all employees, not just a select few. Both individual and organizational job performance are ultimately dependent on the leadership developmental structures embedded within each organizational unit. The issue at hand is designing and delivering leadership development programs that meet the leadership requirements for today’s complex yet changing organizations.