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date: 01 July 2022

Leadership Development in Social Work and Military Settingslocked

Leadership Development in Social Work and Military Settingslocked

  • Gary M. Bess, Gary M. BessGary Bess Associates
  • James J. Kelly, James J. KellyMenlo College
  • James B. MacdonaldJames B. MacdonaldMadigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  •  and James J. WooleverJames J. WooleverMenlo College

Summary

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. Today, social workers build on leadership theories and utilize emerging technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices, such as formal training, coaching, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been—and will be—a critical need for leadership in health and human services fields, as well as other endeavors, such as military social work, where social work practices contribute to optimal benefit for individuals and institutions. Indeed, leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and the organizational. From the individual perspective, while innate leadership skills may be present, it is also learned, and it begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, as well as resources for professional growth. From an organizational perspective, there are also numerous views on how things get done and the role of the leader as a changemaker. After an overview of leadership from a definitional and early models’ discussion, a transition to social work leadership takes place, comparing and contrasting its tenets with conventional leadership literature in the context of health and human services organizations, and the unique requirements and skills for social work leaders across a range of employment venues, including increasing numbers of social work-trained officers in the military. Observations are made concerning the future of social work practice.

Subjects

  • Administration and Management
  • Human Behavior
  • Social Work Profession

Updated in this version

Content and references updated for the Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work.

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