6 Shocking Facts about Leadership in the Social Work World

1.) When asked what skills were necessary for social work leaders in the 21st century, Community Development was the number 1 skill people answered (Rank and Hutchison 495).


2.) A manager is not the same thing as a leader. A manager may solve problems and keep things running, but a leader is someone who is creative, takes risks, and promotes innovation and organizational growth (Brilliant 326).


3.) Despite being able to advocate for their clients, some social workers feel powerless in their own organizations and feel helpless to bring about change for the better (Brilliant 326)


4.) Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge was a pioneering social leader who promoted social work as social justice and paved the way for women to become leaders in the social work field (Jabour 34).


5.) There are five common elements of leadership for social workers:

1.) Proaction

2.) Values and Ethics

3.) Empowerment

4.) Vision

5.) Communication


(Rank and Hutchison 492)

6.) It is a staple for a strong social work leader o follow the NASW Code of Ethics which serves as a behavioral guide for the profession and is clearly distinct from other ethical codes (Rank and Hutchison 493)



Brilliant, E. (1986) ‘Social work leadership: A missing ingredient?’, Social Work, vol. 31, pp. 325-30.

Jabour, A. (2012). Relationship and Leadership: Sophonisba Breckinridge and Women in Social Work. Affilia, 27(1), 22-37. doi:10.1177/0886109912437496

Rank, M., & Hutchison, W. (2000). An analysis of leadership within the social work profession. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3), 487-502.

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