Friday, October 1, 2010

Advocacy versus Stridency

Lately I've noticed a number of people who seem to think that being a good leader and advocating for oneself or others equates with being verbally abusive, strident, and simply rude. I know that there are times that the gloves have to come off, and we have to truly fight for what we believe in as leaders. However, I don't think this should be the first tactic we take. As social workers, engaging in verbal exchanges that are hurtful to others, that burn bridges and ruin social capital, and that are, frankly, not often effective, are NOT good leadership. We are supposed to believe in the importance of human relationship, of respect and dignity of the individual. Yelling and demanding aren't exactly syntonic with these values.

I hope that students and professionals will realize that leadership is more than shouting "I demand what I deserve!!" every time something doesn't go the way we think it should. A spirit of inquiry, sitting down and saying "Can we talk about this? I'm seeing things differently that you seem to be." are more likely to get results and more likely to communicate respect and professionalism.

Strategic, not strident. Effective, not abusive. Engaging, not antagonistic. Leadership that effects change without sacrificing our values.

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