The Moral Qualm of Holding Someone’s Palm: Issues in Management and Leadership

The Great Divide: The Nonprofit World and the Private Sector

The ability of social workers to do good is hindered by incorporated bureaucratic concepts such as budgeting and profits rather than managing it based on effective practices using organizational psychology. (class notes)jessyj

Budget Cuts: Follow the Money Trail

Drastic funding cuts push social welfare programs to new directions, and some were even financially starved to extinction.shutterstock_dinosaur_impact-crop-original-original

Medicaid Costs:

Mental health is a valid medical concern, and if pricing isn’t controlled proper, the initiative might fall apart. This is why healthcare needs to be viewed as a social necessity rather than a business. (in-class speaker, Keith Leahey, MSW)leaving the office GIF

Enabling, Empowering, and Mediating: Passive Activism

Many social workers do not like running an authoritative session and are uncomfortable with professional power. This is why social workers are there to help people help themselves rather than give them all the solutions. (class notes)82859089

But There’s Some Hope:

The Affordable Care Act is fueling reform, allowing the public have access to affordable health care, including mental health care. It treats health care equally important as physical health care rather than just a side issue. (in-class speaker, Keith Leahey, MSW)64081475


6 Ways Social Workers Help Make the World A Better Place Through Macro & Mezzo-Level Practice

1.Macro & Mezzo-level work consists of preventing and resolving problems on a community (Mezzo), organizational & societal levels (DiNitto & McNeece p. 51)

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Macro-practice social workers focus on public issues and target both mezzo social structures (Communities) and macro social structures (governments, criminal justice, and educational systems) for intervention (DiNitto & McNeece p.60)

2.Historical Roots- Macro practice has its roots in the social reforms and movements dating back to the 19th century which produced both the Charity Organization Society & the Settlement House Movements. These movements contributed to the formation of child labor laws, women’s pension laws, & workers compensation laws as well as helped to create specific guidelines for providing social services (DiNitto & McNeece p. 52)

3. Administration: Social workers that obtain higher-end positions as such as CEO’s, managers, Executive Directors, Presidents, etc. are in great positions to generate change!

A competent social work manager has skills in both external relations, and internal relations, such as staying current in social and political issues that affect his/her organization,  abiding by and promoting the organizations vision and mission,  and the ability to design and deliver services that meet community needs, are high quality and efficient and achieve reasonable outcomes. A social work executive must be able to develop policy, raise funds, lobby, speak publicly, plan programs, and do budgeting (DiNitto & McNeece p. 61-62)

4.. -Community Practice: In this arena, social workers act as a voice for disadvantaged groups by helping these groups develop the power to advocate for themselves, strengthen their cohesiveness, and develop social and political power to build resources (DiNitto & McNeece p.65)

5.-Policy Practice: In this arena, social workers may possess various jobs directly within the government sector as legislative committee staff or policy analysts in the governors or mayor’s office, public interest groups, advocacy groups and client or consumer organizations, they might work as lobbyists or as aides to legislators. (DiNitto & McNeece p. 73)

As policy practitioners, social workers must be involved in drafting and advocating legislation, testifying at legislative hearings, and gathering evidence about the prevalence and impact of social problems and their solutions (DiNitto & McNeece p. 74).

6. Common Goal- the common goal of all macro practice approaches is to move society toward social, economic, and political justice (DiNitto & McNeece p. 75-76)

Social work administrators see themselves as developers of social programs working through the social system to effect social change

Community practitioners see themselves as agents for social change and social action who struggle to empower the disenfranchised, who are outside the system.

Policy practitioners seek change specifically in the political area- some focus on analyzing social policies and their consequences, while others focus on advocacy through education or lobbying

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DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.


by Marisa Bordowitz


  1. What distinguishes leadership in social work from leadership in other professions, might you ask? A study was conducted examining how leaders within the National Association of Social Workers and the Council on Social Work Education recognize social work leadership. 77 % of participants believed social work leadership differed from that of other practices. The 5 major distinctions are: (1) Social workers must abide by the NASW Code of Ethics which means their interpersonal relationships with clients must entail commitment, cultural competence, etc. (2) Social workers observe a systematic perspective which means a plan is involved! (3) Their leadership style is both more “participatory” or inclusive and (4) “altruistic”. They identify as the sole profession advocating for oppressed persons; and (5) There is a concern for the field’s public reputation/image.  (Rank & Hutchinson, 2000, p. 487, 493)
  2. giphy.gifSocial work leadership has been limited by the great divide between nonprofit realm and the sector of private practice. Often the reigns of leadership have been dominated by bureaucracy (and overly involved with issues of expense rather than “organizational psychology”). The budgetary constraints and differences imposed by government in a sense, eliminated leadership for social workers. (Vassello, J.D., 2016)
  3. Speaking of government dominance in social work leadership, the Affordable care act is driving the reform of Medicaid. Because people now have more access to health care, Medicaid must be reformed (Otherwise, financial issues will transpire). (Leahey, MSW, 2015)                                            giphy-1.gif
  4. Flexibility and adaptability = KEY! A board (NASW) influences social workers in leadership positions. Plans, policies, programs and individual agendas are liable to change. Additionally, to be a successful leader, one must be able to work both independently as well as with a team. (Grobman, 2012, p. 326-327)200-3.gif
  5. Attention ladies! Are you interested in a profession in leadership? Collaborate and connect with other females. It appears that was the way to female leadership in the profession’s “formative “years. (Jabour, 2012. p. 23)200w.gif
  6. Sophonisba Preston Breckenridge truly exemplified female leadership. Her advancements in particular can be attributed to relationships with other women. She challenged reforms (even those in contradiction with one another), immersing herself in virtually everything from protective legislation for women employees to civil rights for African Americans. Shockingly enough, Breckenridge’s work has gone widely unrecognized.  (Jabour, 2012. p. 23-25) url
  7. How do you move up the ladder in the social work profession, become involved with leadership (and perhaps tackle the administration field)? SPEAK UP! (or forever hold your peace). Be clear about your prospects from the beginning. (Leahey, MSW, 2015)url



Jabour, A. (2012). Relationship and Leadership: Sophonisba Breckenridge and Women in Social Work. Journal of Women and Social Work, 27(1), 22-37. Retrieved February 4, 2016

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

Grobman, L. (2012). Days in the Lives of Social Workers (4th ed.)


Other References:

Leahey, K. February 2, 2016

Vassello, J., 2016 Week 2: Leadership


4 Reasons Why Leadership in Social Work is Under Attack (and how to promote leadership from within)

By: Mindy Barnes

Social work leadership is being threatened. I think it’s time we start defending it!


#1. Some social workers just don’t want to be leaders.

Many individuals go into the social work profession with the mindset that they only want to work in direct service positions. They are not comfortable with macropractice social work and professional leadership. Unfortunately, many social workers play the role of enabler, mediator, and broker, all of which do not entail lasting power. (John Vassello, 2/4/2016, Week 2: Leadership)  choices tv modern family pressure modern family gif

Recommendation: First, social workers should not automatically rule out macropractice before giving it a chance. They should also recognize that leadership skills are necessary to achieve influence and power, which are needed to become successful agents of change. MSW programs can help social workers gain these important skills by introducing leadership training into their curriculum. (Brilliant, 1986)



#2. They feel politically powerless.

It is easy to understand why many social workers view leadership positions within the profession as undesirable when political power is taken into consideration. Social work can often been seen as lacking power because of its strong connection with oppressed and vulnerable populations. The occupation also suffers because it is dominated by women and minorities, who have historically held low social and political statuses. (John Vassello, 2/6/2016, Week 2: Leadership)

Recommendation: Social justice and advocacy are key to gaining more political power. Social workers need to take action to make their voices heard within the public and political arenas. It’s time to speak up!




#3. They hit a glass ceiling (or glass escalator?).

Speaking of women, they may dominate the profession as a whole but leadership positions within social work are increasingly being taken over by men. There is a disproportionate representation of men in upper-level social work positions. They also move quicker into these positions and hold higher salaries than their female counterparts. (Gibelman & Schervish, 1993)

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Recommendation: Some researchers suggest that agencies start valuing women as administrators for the types of skills, talents, and values they bring with them (Moran, Frans, & Gibson, 1995). Others suggest that women reclaim their historic roles as leaders within social work by forming bonds, lifting each other up, and advancing social justice, much like SSA founder Sophonisba Breckinridge (Jabour, 2012). I suggest all of the above!

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#4. MSWs are being replaced by MBAs.

Finally, it has been an increasing trend that social work agencies hire individuals with MBAs or MPAs over MSWs to fill leadership positions (Grobman, 2012). This remains true, even though researchers have shown that an individual with an MBA might not be the most qualified to run a social work organization. (Moran, Frans, & Gibson, 1995).


Recommendation: Organizations should really consider hiring trained social workers as administrators over candidates with MBAs only. An individual with an MSW degree will uphold the values and ethics of the social work profession, while also being committed to the organization’s mission and clients (Moran, Frans, & Gibson, 1995). Vote MSW!

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

Gibelman, M. & Schervish, P. H. (1993). The Glass Ceiling in Social Work: Is It Shatterproof?. Affilia, 8(4), 442-455. doi: 10.1177/088610999300800406

Grobman, L. (2012). Days in the Lives of Social Workers (4th ed.). Harrisburg: White Hat Communications.

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

Moran, J. R., Frans, D., & Gibson, P. A. (1995). A Comparison of Beginning MSW and MBA Students on Their Aptitudes for Human Service Management. Journal of Social Work Education, 31(1), 95-105.

How do Social Workers Work Within Organizations, Communities, and Larger Systems? Here’s 8 Facts to Tell you How!-Carly Danowitz

  1. There are 3 levels of social work interventions; macro, mezzo, and micro. Macro includes social policy, community organizing, and administration. Group and family interventions fall under the mezzo category. Micro interventions are for individuals. (John Vassello, 2016, Week 2: Leadership)




  1. 5 Common themes in which social work leaders differ from leaders of other professions are commitment to the NASW code of ethics, a systemic perspective, a participatory leadership style, altruism, and concern about the public image of the profession. (Hutchinson & Rank, 2000, p. 493)




  1. A major element of social work leadership is proaction. Proaction includes motivating, organizing, directing, advocating, mobilizing, energizing, and mentoring. (John Vassello, 2016, Week 2: Leadership)




  1. The mission of a social worker is to enhance the image of the social work profession and to represent the members of the profession. (John Vassello, 2016, Week 2: Leadership).



  1. Macro practice social workers are agents of change who are committed to protecting those who are oppressed or vulnerable, advancing fairness for all, and ensuring equality of opportunity and outcome. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 60)




  1. Community practice social workers help people form groups in which address social problems that are negatively affecting the community. These social workers help people help themselves to build resources, develop social power, and develop political power. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 64-65)




  1. Skills that are imperative to have to become a social work leader are community development, interpersonal skills (communication), technological, political, risk taking, and cultural competence. (Hutchinson & Rank, 2000, p. 495-496)



  1. The upper management and executive staff at the executive level of administration social work are responsible for both external relationships and internal operations. The leadership positions available are the chief executive officer, president and vice president. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p. 62)





DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a

challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

Rank, M., & Hutchison, W. (2000). An analysis of leadership within the social work

profession. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3), 487-502.

Vassello, J. (2016). Week 2: Leadership





Top 7 Skills Needed To Be A Successful Administrative Social Worker

1. Critical Thinking Skills. As an administrative social worker, your job at times will require you to think outside the box, and come up with solutions to various problems. The solutions to issues are not always simple and straight forward, which is where critical thinking skills come into play. (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

2. Time Management. Your job requires a lot, and you may have multiple projects going on at once. That’s why it’s vital you learn effective time management skills before becoming an administrative social worker. (DiNitto & Mcneece, 2008, pg. 60-61) (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

3. Organization. As stated before, you’re doing a lot! You might be working on budgets, managing a team of social workers, meeting legislators, and planning fundraisers. It’s easy to get dates mixed up and paperwork be lost, so organization is key in this job! (DiNitto & Mcneece, 2008, pg. 60-61) (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

4. Listening & Reading Comprehension. As an administrative social worker, you’re going to be bombarded with information. Whether it be grant proposals, legislative proceedings, medicare laws, or just the day-in and day-out paperwork and meetings, you’ll need to be able to understand and remember most of it. (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

5. Communication. Like other jobs, administrative social workers need communication skills. This is a job that has an incredibly high level of interaction with people. You need to be able to effectively communicate your ideas and thoughts to others. (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

6. Leadership. Leadership skills are critical while in a position of leading and guiding others. Without this skill, the risk of everything falling apart is high. As an administrative social worker, you will constantly be in a position of leadership, which is why this skill is crucial to possess.  (Brilliant, 1986, p. 325-30)(K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)

7. Perseverance.  It’s going to take time to get into an administrative social work position. On average, it takes about 5-7 years. On top of that, when you do get the job, it won’t always be easy. There will be good days, and bad days. You need to be able to push through. (K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016)



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

DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
K. Leahey, personal communication, February 2, 2016.

8 Things About Social Workers Most People Don’t Know

There are tons of Social Workers!

Of all mental health service providers, Social Workers make up the largest group! There are over 200,000 clinically trained social workers – that’s more than psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses combined! (Social Work Profession).

Social Work is a rapidly growing career in the US!

Employment of social workers overall is expected to increase by 12% by 2024! Healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse social work are projected to grow by 19%! Meanwhile expected total job growth of all occupations in the US is only expected to be about 7%. (Social Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook).

The field of Social Work is much broader than most people think!

Social Workers are knowledgeable about human development and behavior, social/economic/cultural institutions, and how all these factors interact!

Social Workers help people restore or strengthen their social functioning capacity and work to improve societal conditions! They practice psychosocial services and advocacy to address the needs of their clients! (Social Work Profession).

Social Workers are not all working in public or child welfare!

Professional social workers handle only about 25% of all child welfare cases! Only approximately 1% of the National Association of Social Workers’ members are employed in public sector! (Social Work Myths and Facts).

You can find Social Workers in so many other places!

They can work in hospitals, mental health clinics, corporations, police departments, adoption agencies, military facilities, non-profit agencies, private practice, and many other contexts!

Hundreds of social workers are elected to local, state, and national offices! This includes 2 US Senators and 7 US Representatives! (General Facts about Social Work).

Many Social Workers help the Red Cross and the military!

Social Workers make up 40% of the mental health professionals helping the Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources system.

More than 10,000 of Social Workers are employed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to help military personnel and their families through counseling, client education, crisis intervention, substance abuse treatment, end of life planning, etc. (Social Work Profession).

Social Workers help a vast range of populations!

Working with everyone from children to the elderly, Social Workers help people of all ages! And from poverty, to adoption, to hospice care, Social Workers aide people in all types of situations! (General Facts about Social Work).

Social Workers go by a lot of different titles!

A BSW, or Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, is obtained through completion of a four-year college education.

An MSW, or Master’s Degree in Social Work, is obtained by completing graduate level course work and field experience.

An LMSW, or Licensed Master Social Worker, is granted after completing of a graduate social work program and passing a licensure exam.

An LCSW, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is obtained after completion of graduate level education, 3 years of subsequent supervised experience, and passing a clinical examination.

Work Cited