Friday, August 28, 2009

There is an interesting book out through Boston University titled "Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems and Programs" by William A. Anthony & Kevin Ann Huckshorn. It posits that in this time of national mental healthcare collapse we need a different kind of leader than the one traditionally seen in the public section. You can find an excerpt at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Found an intersting article on the effectiveness of transformational versus transactional leadership in a social work setting. It is an empirical article, looking at the correlation between transactional leadership factors (e.g. leaders encouraging change in staff behavior through positive rewards) versus transformational leadership factors (e.g. leaders catalyzing change by communicating new values and vision). Check it out. Gellis, Z. (2001). Social work perceptions of transformational and transactional leadership in health care. Social Work Research, 25, 17-25.

For those of you with access to the e-reserves at UNC, cou can get it at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Leadership and anger

Chris Fitzsimon wrote an interesting piece yesterday on the vehemence and anger in response to the Obama healthcare plan, and how much of the content and affect had little to do with healthcare.

New leaders have an interesting developmental trajectory, with excessive hope and expectation followed by rage when everything isn't "fixed" right away. Having the moral courage to stay the course is a challenge in the face of this kind of vitriol, often irrational and personal rather than issue focused. What should a leader do in the face of irrational and impossible demands (like "don't raise my taxes, but make sure we can all get all the healthcare we want when we want it and with total choice and control.")?

Are there ways to prevent this pattern of honeymoon and rebound rage? Is there a way to build front-end buy-in to minimize this? Or is this simply a stage a good leader needs to weather?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our governor signed the NC budget behind closed doors, with no ceremony, and with a public statement that she had real reservations about the budget...which begs the question of why did she sign it? How do leaders decide when to fight and when to concede? How do we as social work leaders weigh the harm in continuing to fight (e.g. not signing a budget and having the state continue to struggle without one) versus the harm in compromise and concession (e.g. signing a budget that has HUGE cuts in HHS, DOC, etc.)? Are there some things that are simply non-negotiable, that no matter how much they may harm us or others we simply cannot compromise on or concede to? If so, what are they? Do we as leaders have a right to make these kinds of decisions when they may harm others, without consulting with these others first?

The ethics of moral dilemmas is something requiring much self-reflection and collaborative discussion among social work leaders. I'm not sure we do enough of this.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Social Work Leaders Past and Present

The Executive Director of NASW has put out a document "A Broader Vision for the Social Work Profession" where she outlines our history and leadership as a profession, and talks about what it means to be a social worker now. Check it out at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Welcome to the start of academic year 2009-2010! It has been a summer full of leadership (or lack thereof) activity at the federal, state, and local levels. People have been working diligently to preserve or improve programs, to address social injustice, and to simply speak truth to power about the conditions in our society. What roles have social workers played in all this? What roles should we play?

I'll be posting regularly here, making comments on leadership issues, resources, actions. Looking forward to a challenging year of growth for us all.