In terms of strengthening leadership for the course in the future, I think that having more diverse perspectives would be beneficial. For example, what leadership looks like in specific affinity groups or organizations. This would help strengthen a broader understanding of what leadership can look like in diverse settings. This is important because The Ohio State University is predominantly white university, and the majority of social workers are white as well (Alfarano, n.d.). Thus, in order to promote antiracist activism amongst the social work students at the Ohio State University, it is critical to make white students consider how things would are different for people of color. In this case, that means considering how leadership opportunities, leadership styles, and leadership development look different for people of color.
Here are some examples that illustrate what leadership can sound and look like in non-white communities!
Introducing leadership concepts and principles to students at the beginning of the Master of Social Work program helps establish clear goals for them to strive toward and ensure that they are working toward a leadership style that is congruent with social work values and ethics.
Arendt (2017) illustrates some of the transferable skills that social work leaders will learn early on in their social work identity and leadership development:
Early on in our careers as social workers, we develop skills such as emotional intelligence, problem solving, and advocacy. These skills are integral to not only our identities as social workers, but also our identities as leaders–whether our leadership is focused on a micro, mezzo, or macro level.
Here is a video from a unique perspective that discusses the importance of leadership!
Arendt, V. (2017). Transferable Social Work Skills [graphic]. Retrieved from https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/career-jobs/changing-areas-of-practice-the-tranferability-of-social-work-skills/
According to Goleman (2009), there are five specific components of emotional intelligence. The one that presents the most significant challenge for me is self-regulation. Self-regulation specifically refers to an individual’s ability to be able to express their emotions appropriately. Self-regulation tends to affect someone’s ability to be flexible and adapt to change easily. Further, self-regulation impacts a person’s willingness to engage and manage conflict as well as dealing with difficult situations. Goleman indicates that people with self-regulation skills are high in conscientiousness; these are people who take responsibility for their own actions.
What is hardest to me in terms of self-regulation has to do with the fact that I have a chronic illness that affects my nervous system combined with my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both of these illnesses affect my ability to regulate my emotions on a physiological level—although I am frequently able to rationally think about my emotions and my emotional responses, my body is often lagging behind. That is to say that I am not quite able to rationalize the way that my body reacts. My plan to grow in this particular area is to attend therapy, continue to take my medications, and receive accommodations when necessary.
Here is a visual aid to help you understand the concepts presented by Goleman (2009).
The picture was retrieved from https://globalleadershipfoundation.com/deepening-understanding/emotional-intelligence/
Goleman, D. (2009). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review.
[Graphic to illustrate Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Model]. (n.d.). https://globalleadershipfoundation.com/deepening-understanding/emotional-intelligence/
The article from Huff Post entitled “Assuming Positive Intent” by Neff (2012) has had a significant impact on me. Although it is a very short article, Neff’s impact is large. To me, this article illustrated something that I experience that I infrequently hear discussed. There are far too many underlying assumptions around people’s ability to simply exist. It is very troubling to have people make assumptions on your ability to do “normal” things, such as walk up a flight of stairs, based on your physical appearance. I think it is critical to assume good intentions and when we find ourselves making assumptions about other people, to remind ourselves that we can only see a part of their story, not the whole thing.
I found the Mood Elevator to be very interesting. I think it can provide valuable information about where we are in our perspectives and what our thoughts are telling us. For example, when I took it, I was in a fairly good mood and got “Grateful — Adaptive” as my result, which meant that I was on one of the top floors of the Mood Elevator. I took it again while I was feeling a little down and got “Curious and Interested.” I think that this tool can provide us insights into how we see the world, and may point us in the direction we need to change.
As a social work student and future practitioner, leadership goes beyond delegating tasks and creating schedules. Leading is about identifying what change you want and figuring out how you can make that change happen. Leadership, to me, is also about empowering others to do the same. As a leader, I want to be able to empower my classmates and clients to know that they are able to create whatever change they want to see in the world. Further, I want to empower clinicians specifically by creating cultural competency trainings.
Being an effective and competent social work leader means providing culturally competent and trauma informed care. It also means, when placed in a leadership role, acting in a way that is congruent with social work values and ethics. At a macro level, it looks like helping create or change policies so that they are inclusive and mindful of people whose identities are marginalized. On a micro level, it looks like engaging in practice with clients and providing care that is humble and trauma informed. When social workers focus on creating inclusive space for marginalized identities, other disciplines are empowered with the relevant knowledge to provide care that is effective and well-received by stakeholders. For example, a doctor may have never seen a transgender client before, but after working directly with a hospital social worker on how to provide culturally competent care, is then able to be an effective and sensitive clinician to the transgender patient.
Check out this video below to see a unique example of what leadership can look like in social work practice!