Application Social Work Leadership Theories Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Social Work Leadership Theories and Areas of Application

Leadership Theories - Servant

The philosophy and collection of practices constituting the 'servant leadership' style enrich people's lives, improve organizations and, eventually, foster a kinder and fairer world. While the concept is ageless, the coining of the term "servant leadership" is attributed to Robert K. Greenleaf, who cites it in his 1970 essay, The Servant as Leader. In his paper, Greenleaf states that servant-leaders are, first, servants. Leadership starts with one's inherent wish to serve. Subsequently, conscious choice generates the aspiration to lead. Such an individual sharply differs from the person who is, first, a leader, probably because of the latter's desire to procure material wealth or satisfy an abnormal power drive. Therefore, servant-first and leader-first types are positioned at two extremities of the continuum of leadership styles. Between the two, an endless assortment exists, forming part of human nature's infinite variety. The difference manifests in the focus of 'servant-first' individuals to ensure that others' highest priority requirements are met. The primary emphasis of servant-leaders is on individuals' and their respective communities' welfare and growth. Traditional leadership typically entails power exertion and accumulation by those situated at the peak of the power hierarchy, but servant leadership diverges. Servant-leaders prefer sharing power, prioritize others' needs, and aid others in developing and performing to their highest possible capacity (, 2015).

Important Leadership Approach in Social Work

Trait Leadership

The first key leadership model is generally denoted as 'trait leadership' approach, since it deals with a set of mental, personality, or physical traits unique to effective leaders, and absent in weak leaders or non-leaders. This approach is taken up first for discussion primarily because it represents one among the oldest major leadership theories, and continues to prevail in modern-day organizations (212 books, 2012). Trait leaders in the field of social work appear to be enthusiastic, sociable, sensitive to others, emotionally intelligent, and possess drive and good interpersonal skill -- all of which are innate attributes. However, this leadership style is greatly challenged.

Transformational Leadership

The approach known as transformational leadership represents a superior form of leadership, characterized by encouragement of one's subordinates to broaden as well as stimulate their interest levels. A transformational leader creates among his/her subordinates recognition and approval of group mission and aims. In addition, a transformational leader urges his/her subordinates to see beyond personal interests, to the collective good. On the other hand, transactional leadership focuses on the concept of leader-subordinate transactions, by which leaders maintain compliance using reward as well as punishment, thereby incorporating positive (contingent reward) as well as negative (or management-by exception) concepts, while laissez-faire style of leadership is defined as non-leadership, typified by a lack of transactions. The basis of transformational leadership model is charismatic leadership studies; charismatic leaders' authority hinges on subordinates perceiving them to have exceptional traits that make them unique and superior. A positive link is seen between transformational leadership and social workers' commitment as well as role clarity. Leader continuity facilitated transformation leadership's impact on commitment as well as role clarity (Tafvelin, 2013).

Effect on role clarity and commitment grew with increase in the duration of time workers reported to an organizational leader perceived by them as transformational. Peer support moderated commitment's link to transformational leadership, but had no influence on role clarity. In other words, if an employee perceives that he/she is receiving the social support of his/her colleagues, transformational leadership's impact on commitment amplifies. Leader continuity's moderating effect hints at the significance of retaining leaders with a particular work group and in the very same role for an extended duration of time for the purpose of achieving optimal effects on role clarity and commitment. Colleague support's moderating effect establishes subordinates' role in improving transformational leadership's effect (Tafvelin, 2013). This leadership style offers a familiar reference point in line with social work ideals and self-perception (e.g., social justice, respect and egalitarianism) (Fronek, Fowler, & Clarke, 2011).

Leadership Approach That Is Most Important In Children and Families

Servant Leadership Approach

Servant-leadership isn't merely an approach to leadership, but a type of attitude toward a leader's responsibilities. Typically, it is viewed and presented in contrast to hierarchical or autocratic leadership styles. According to this perspective of leadership, traditional leadership approaches are incompetent in inspiring modern-day subordinates to follow. Servant-leaders can be described as leaders whose basic leadership goal is serving people through investing in their welfare and growth for achieving objectives, and completing tasks for the collective good. One cannot become a true servant leader by merely being a service-oriented individual, as per servant-hood's conventional concept (Page & Wong, n.d). Servant leadership approach is, perhaps, the best example of a leadership style that exemplifies social work's entire purpose. Servant leaders place themselves in the position of those they serve, and therefore, get a first-hand experience of how they feel. This approach entails decision-making authority to subordinates. Wong and Page (n.d.) explain that one shouldn't make the mistake of considering servant-leaders as losers or ineffectual leaders. In tough circumstances, or when faced with difficult decisions, as every leader must ultimately experience at one point or another in their career, servant leaders have to exhibit the same amount of resilience and tough-mindedness demanded of other types of leaders. It isn't decision quality that sets servant-leaders apart from other leaders; rather, it is the way they exert their responsibility as well as whom they check with while making decisions that sets them apart.

Power Analysis

Sources of Power

By reflecting on prior experiences, and self-analysis, I have found that charisma, or my influence, owing to my persona (style) and the way I deal with others, is one among my chief sources of power at the workplace. It is closely linked with the second-greatest power source -- my rapport with others. Relational power represents the influence won by leaders via their informal and formal networks, both within and outside their organizations. Two other power sources which, in my opinion, are crucial for me at the workplace are -- expertise and knowledge. They spring from my proficiency and the assets I can offer with regard to professional matters. Information as a source of power refers to the control arising through the application of evidence for making an argument, while expertise as a source of power implies the influence springing from development and communication of specialized knowledge (or knowledge perception). Expert power denotes my ability of influencing the behavior of others, owing to my recognized abilities, knowledge, and skills (Lunenburg, 2012).

How these are Applied

A number of workplace situations I faced involved training employees or polishing their skills, leveraging trust, or advocating for clients. I was also required to make use of social network links for assisting others. Common examples include: facilitating a project using personal contacts, or assisting coworkers in filling a post by introducing them to a social network acquaintance. Furthermore, by assuming the part of a conduit or central node, I can effectively position myself to centralize fresh information. After acquiring such information, I subsequently become a channel for informing other people (Bal, Campbell, Steed, & Meddings, n.d).

What Benefits did it Yield?

Through the possession and application of the aforementioned sources of power, I can influence my superiors, colleagues, and other individuals within my workplace. One common benefit is gaining support or various favors for clients. One extension of conveying useful and vital information to others is its purposeful application in inspiring and convincing others. Through this power, I could sell an idea to others, and, on account of having sufficient relevant information for proposing a solution, substantiate my idea as well (Bal, Campbell, Steed, & Meddings, n.d).

What Might you have Done Differently?

It would have served me well had I identified more individuals to forge a bond with. Further, understanding the necessity of cultivating better rapport with senior executives, my immediate superior, and my colleagues, as well as deriving more from these relationships, would help me in better aiding my clients. I could also have devoted a greater amount of energy and time to strengthening existing relationships. Spending increased time with my connections, maintaining contact with them, and taking part in increased socialization in non-work-related settings is essential (Bal, Campbell, Steed, & Meddings, n.d).

What was the Impact of Your Use of Power on Others?

Using my sources of power, I could impact the organization I serve by persuading them to effect a few positive changes. Additionally, I have impacted clients by aiding them in accomplishing or acquiring something they needed. Lastly, on a personal level, I have forged alliances and strategically positioned myself within my organization, for benefiting others.

Areas of Application

Area 1: Groups and Teams for Children and Families

Characteristics of Effective Teams

Trust: Trust is the basis of all effective collaborations. Individuals engaged in a trusting bond not only seek each other's input, but put it to actual use, as well. Moreover, they allow each other to perform their roles with no unneeded oversight. The above fact is particularly…

Sources Used in Document:


212 books. (2012, December 7). An Introduction to Organizational Communication. Retrieved from 212 Books:

Bal, V., Campbell, M., Steed, J., & Meddings, K. (n.d.). The Role of Power in Effective Leadership. Center for Creative Leadership.

Chuang, S.-F. (2013). Essential Skills For Leadership Effectiveness In Diverse Workplace Development. Online Journal for Workforce Education and Development, 6(1).

Cowles, T. B. (2015, December 7). Ten Strategies for Enhancing Multicultural Competency in Evaluation. Retrieved from Harvard Family Research Project:

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