empowerment_12.7.09.jpgLeadership at Other Levels

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Leadership at other levels flows down from a directing board and the director (it is important to note that while the board hires or fires a director, ideally they do not micromanage his or her activities as a director). This level of leadership includes a middle level of managers or other staff that have been delegated specific tasks or activities that board members may be responsible for (i.e. fundraising) (Weinbach, 2008).

Middle level managers posses more of a direct and specified impact on the agency’s direction and service to clients. They can do this in many different ways. Supervisors can exhibit valuable leadership qualities by keeping employees on task and focused on agency goals and objectives. Supervisors can handle interpersonal conflicts, allocate resources and keep tabs on staff attitudes. “. . .the tasks of leadership tend to vary, depending on the manager’s position in the organization” (Weinbach, 2008).

It is important to remember that as social workers we are all managers at some level. The elements associated with leadership are important whether you are a supervisor or an employee. A good manager will empower the employee to do his or her job correctly and help bring them to a level that will allow them to make competent and ethical conclusions which may embody an agency’s mission, goals, or objectives. This is similar to a social worker at the staff level empowering a client to make competent decisions in his or her own life with a sense of confidence and self-determination.

The above listed article discusses ten competencies that a social worker acting as a manager should focus on in order to run an effective agency. The competencies are divided into two categories, those being “external relations” and “internal relations” (Wimpfheimer, 2004).

FIGURE 1. Management Competencies of the National Network for Social Work

External Relations
• Contemporary social and public policy issues
• Advocacy
• Public/community relations and marketing
• Governance

Internal Relations
• Planning
• Program development and management
• Financial development
• Evaluation
• Human resource management

• Staff development (Wimpfheimer, 2004).

The concept of social workers as managers possessing competencies versus traits is much more appealing to the field. A value of social work is that people have the ability to change. It is unfair and short sighted to suggest that leaders are born and only individuals possessing certain traits can exhibit good and effective leadership. Wimpfheimer’s article does a good job of describing expectations higher levels of management has when social workers are thrown into management positions with little or no experience. She makes a good case that with good supervision and the focus and utilization of various competencies social workers can become skillful managers.