I think that it is important to introduce leadership concepts and principles at the start of the MSW program because they are skills that require practice. We need to continue learning and practicing good leadership skills thought our time in the MSW program. Noone can just become a great leader overnight, especially a leader in social work. It takes time, practice, and continuing education. The skills we learned in this course will be skills that we utilize thought our time in the MSW program and into our future careers as social workers.
In the future, I hope that this class can become a 16 course. I think there are so many important things to learn about becoming a professional in the social work world. Trying to cover everything in 8weeks is difficult and I feel as if it does not do the class justice. I took a class on leadership and ethics this semester as well and the classes covered many of the same topics. Perhaps there could be a combined section on social work and leadership ethics that is a full 16-week course.
Of the 5 components of emotional intelligence, I think that I struggle with social skills the most. This may sound stage coming from someone going into social work, but I definitely do not have the best social skills all of the time. A good leader must have great social skills especially when it comes to conflict resolution. I, however, have not so great conflict resolution skills because I have a strong desire to make everyone around me happy. knowing this about myself I will have to find methods for conflict management that work best for me.
Luckily there is a lot of good information about this available! One article I found on the subject comes from the International Journal of Conflict management. The article is titled “Servant leadership and conflict resolution: a qualitative study” by Ravinder Jit, Chandra Shekhar, and Mona Kawatra. The article discusses various types of conflict resolution. The one that really stuck out to me was authentic leadership; defined as “authentic leaders are characterized by a positive outlook and a deep awareness of their own and others values and perspectives and the context in which they operate”(Ravinder 2016). I found this definition to reflect the type of leader that I want to be. Which demonstrated to me that it is possible to be concerned about others and look out for their best intentions while also being a good leader.
Moving forward I will research more about conflict resolution and build on my leadership skills so that hopefully one day I can become a competent and compassionate leader in the social work world.
Ravinder, J. Shekhar, C. & Kawatra, M. (2016) Servant leadership and conflict resolution: a qualitative study. International Journal of Conflict Management 1044-4068. Retrieved from: https://www-emerald-com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJCMA-12-2015-0086/full/html
My top character trait on the VIA character Strengths assessment was humor. At first, I was a little offended by this. I remember thinking “is there nothing more to me” “Does this mean that I am shallow”. After thinking about this for several days, and writing about it in my journal, I finally realized that this was not actually a negative character strength.
What is something that absolutely everyone loves to do? Laugh.
I have undergone some very not so great things in my lifetime. But at the end of the day, I would rather make someone else laugh because I never know what it is that they are going through. If I can make them laugh then maybe, if only for a second, they may feel better. I don’t want others to feel the way I did when I was going through those not so great times.
This character strength is something that I will take with me through my future career as a social worker because the truth is sometimes you really do have to laugh to keep from crying. If I use humor as a way to keep myself feeling positive then I will be able to reduce the negative emotions that lead to emotional fatigue and burnout.
This assessment really opened my eyes to my own strengths. If anyone is like myself and wants to take the assessment again to make sure you haven’t experienced any major character changes in the last week, I will provide the link to the assessment website. https://www.viacharacter.org/Account/Register
One of the most impactful topics that I took from this semester was the idea of cultural humility. Prior to this course, I had always learned about cultural competency which led me to believe that I needed to be well informed about every cultural group that I may encounter. I have since learned that while it is important to have in-depth general knowledge about various types of cultural groups, it is ABSOLUTELY crazy to think that one person can know everything about every possible cultural group they may encounter as a social worker. This is why I now use the term cultural humility rather than culturally competent.
What cultural humility breaks down to is that we as a human can only know so much about those around us. It is not humanly possible to know everything there is to know about the endless number of cultural groups that we may encounter as social workers. After all, no one knows more about a specific culture than those who make up that group. This is why it is important to be humble and learn from the experts (our clients).
Say, for example, I am meeting a family for the first time during a home visit. I know prior to the visit that the family immigrated to the area from Mexico fairly recently.
Culturally competent approach: “There is a long history of patriarchy in Hispanic family systems. I should talk directly to the father, he is probably the head of the household.”
Cultural Humility approach: “I have worked with a lot of Hispanic families in the past. Each family is so unique within their own culture. I wonder what new knowledge I will gain from working with this family? I know that historically Mexico is a patriarchal society, but I will wait to see how the family behaves before making any assumptions.”
I found this website to be very helpful in breaking down cultural humility and explaining the differences from cultural competency: https://hogg.utexas.edu/3-things-to-know-cultural-humility
The use of cultural humility is something that I will continue to use as a social work student and carry into my social work career. One aspect of social work is a commitment to life long learning, and with a cultural humility approach there is always something new to learn from those around us!
It is important to be an effective and competent social work leader because as social workers we work so closely with the lives of others. If we are ineffective or not competent then it can have a major impact on our clients in a very negative way. At the micro-level, this can mean something as simple as upholding confidentiality, or knowing when to break confidentiality in an attempt to save a life. At the macro level, this could mean advocating for a community garden or helping to organize a Black Lives Matter protest outside of City Hall. I believe that hen we are competent and effective social workers we become leaders in the community. Demonstrating to others in the community that it is important to stand up for what you believe in. Just as teachers protesting the lack of gun regulations leading to mass shootings in schools, or health care personnel advocating for better, more affordable health care coverage. If we are informed and competent leaders in the community then it can encourage others to do the same.
A quote from one of my favorite leaders. A person who was not afraid to stand up for what he knew was right. A man who changed history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Leadership, whether it is as a social work student or as a practicing social worker, is centered around one main idea, in my opinion: leading by example. What I mean by this is that as a social worker I have a strong desire to help others. By “others” I mean even those who society often turns a blind eye to. Those who are criminals, homeless, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, the list goes on. It is not simply enough to be of assistance during the 40 hours a week in which we are social workers but to be a leader in the community. Speak up when someone tries to make a racist comment. Attend an event during Pride month. Donate to the local food bank or volunteer in a soup kitchen if you have the time. Be the neighbor who helps to make the community a safe place for all. The type of neighbor that you would want to live next to. Someone who is considerate and kind. In my opinion, if we lead by example as a kind and compassionate person then we are encouraging others to do the same.
That is what being a good leader means to me as a social work student. As I grow into a practitioner in the future I hope to manifest that same energy and passion.
The purpose of this page is to serve as the final presentation for class section 7500 Social Work Professional Development. The topic of the final is leadership in social work. Leadership is something that I never really put much thought into prior to beginning my social work education. To be honest I never really saw myself as someone with good leadership potential. However looking back I can see that there was not a lack of leadership potential, but I had not yet found my passion in life. Now that I have found a passion for social work I find it exciting to have the potential to grow into various positions of leadership.