As March dawns, we enter the month of Social Work Appreciation! This year the NASW theme for the month is Elevate Social Work. The idea behind the month is simple, to elevate the profession, each other, and ourselves. Creating positive and professional depictions of social work in our communities and media is crucial and often an additional task we take on above and beyond our normal tasks. However, this month I want to create space to elevate each other.
Social Worker’s Companion Blog will again be sending out certificates of appreciation to Social Workers all through out the month of March. If you would like one emailed to a Social Worker you think deserves to be elevated, just send me their first name and email here. Don’t be afraid to request one for yourself too!
Last year, I did one for all the staff I supervise at my agency. This blog also sent out over 50 certificates to Social Workers across the US, UK, India, and Canada. If you are a supervisor and want to make a batch for your staff, just email me and I will send you the fillable version of the certificate.
So if there is a Social Worker who has inspired you, just send me a line and they will get the certificate below personalized and emailed with a note saying that someone recognized them as an inspirational social worker.
So let me know who inspires you- happy March all!
If you work in a social work role everyday, you witness a lot. You witness the gamut of emotions. You are there with people living through their darkest days. You may put expectations on yourself to fix the darkness.
It’s easy to lose sight of the sacred in every day life, to miss the importance of each relationship and the dignity and worth of each person.
Social workers are my people because we leave it all on the table. Each day I watch my coworkers give the best of themselves until they walk out the door. We are dedicated to the work. We are dedicated to the person in front of us. That is sacred work.
I find that when I don’t seek the sacred in my personal life, I start to struggle. I feel my own darkness taking ground. My favorite poet, Wendell Berry, once wrote that ” there are no unsacred places, only sacred places and desecrated places.” By his account, to see the sacred is merely to open one’s eyes. That can be a type of seeking in itself.
One way I try to “open my eyes” to the sacred is hiking in the hills near my house. The land, owned by a monastery, is an open space for the public. On the top of the biggest hill, about a 45 minute hike upwards, is a shrine on a lookout over the distant hills. The bricks upholding the shrine are full of notes wedged into the cracks, money, and trinkets. The leavings of those before me, offering of themselves. As I sat for a moment on the stones, I was hit by the beauty that others are looking for the sacred too.
Participating in the creation of music is also a big eye opener for me to the sacred. Something about the completely natural beauty of how notes fit together and how timbres blend sets my soul right. Even though it requires more on my schedule to make music happen with friends, it always gives me more than it takes. Here is a recent song I played recorded with a friend to share with you.
I find experiences like this bring balance and light so I can keep dedicating myself fully to the work of the person in front of me.
Do you ever find yourself seeking the same? What do you find sets your soul right again?
Hey Fellow Social Workers! If Yemen was 100 people, 80 would need aid to survive.
Let’s respond as a profession to this crisis
“The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty”
Whether you are a social worker or not, we can all do one thing to help Yemen through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Can you skip a lunch? Skip a coffee? Let’s all skip that item we indulge in to address the starvation and devastation yet.
I chose Islamic Relief USA as they are highly rated for using funds well on Charity Navigator.
To quote my favorite poet, Wendell Berry: “The smallest unit of health is community.” We need each other to be whole. Do what you can.
Fundraiser: Social Workers and Allies for Basic Human Needs in Yemen
When I became a supervisor in the social work field, I was the youngest one on my team. Being in this position, I reached out for resources wherever possible, including reading a lot of materials on social work supervision.
I think part of being a young supervisor is that I adopted a more collaborative versus authoritarian supervisory style, that took into account the perspective of all members on my team, who often had many more years experience than myself.
I wanted to share a few pieces from one of the books that I found helpful as I navigated the new experience of providing supervision in the hopes that it will be useful to others who find themselves with similar feelings to what I described.
The first place to start is to evaluate and be self-aware of your leadership style. Do you know what style you tend towards? If not, read on!
Authoritarian Leadership Style: magnifies the bigger picture and links individual’s work to this bigger picture.
Strengths: ” provides clear direction,” “mobilizes people towards a vision,” “provides clear feedback on what is and is not working.”
Challenges : ” can become overbearing” ” can be dismissed” when the leader is not able to get staff on board with the larger vision or if staff feel that the leader does not “have the knowledge or experience” to support the vision.
Affiliative Leadership Style: “people centered, empathic, creates harmony”
Strengths: Growth in worker’s trust resulting in sharing ideas and innovation, “generates a sense of commitment and of belonging”
Challenges : ” can leave people directionless, tends to lack “enough feedback on poor performance.”
Democratic Leadership Style: “operates from principles of participation and collaboration”
Strengths: Can gain increased collaboration and create strong staff buy-in
Challenges : Can lead to “a sense of lack of direction and leadership” and more practically can lead to the “frustration of endless meetings.”
Coaching Leadership Style: “focuses on individual strengths and traits of workers and invests and grows these for the future”
Strengths: “able to have a high level of delegation” to workers through use of the support of frequent dialogue.
Challenges : The major drawback of this style is the time involved in making this style work.
Most of us feel most comfortable within one of these leadership styles. However, we are stronger and more versatile leaders when we can harness the strengths of each style within various situations and with various staff that may have different leadership needs.
Utilizing emotional intelligence will guide us towards which style is most appropriate for the tasks and persons we encounter as supervisors. For example, a supervisor who is able to blend authoritarian and affiliative leadership style are able to provide their staff with “clear vision and standards” while also showing a “caring and nurturing approach” that builds team committment.
How have you found a leadership style that has created a healthy, supported, and productive team? What experiences as a supervisor helped shape your leadership style? What supervisors have made an impact on you- what did they do to support your work? Write me your thoughts and I would love to share them in a future blog post! Write me below!
Sharing below a new article of mine published in the New Social Worker Magazine today. Enjoy and check out the rest of the magazine for some great content! Be sure to comment and let me know your thoughts!
Beyond “Fixing” It: Finding Strength in Your Limits as a Social Worker
March is National Social Work Month. Being a social worker is a great life and a career choice I do not regret. And while I do not want to play into the idea that being a social worker means a miserable work/life balance and days full of stress, often without support, there are times when I think we can all relate to the meme below.
So throughout the month of March, let the social workers that inspire you know that someone else is getting that warm feeling too. Send me a message through the Contact page with the first name and email of a social worker you admire. They will receive the following message and attached certificate in celebration of Social work month.
Happy 2018 Social Work Month!
You are receiving this email because someone submitted your name as a social worker that inspires them. In the hurry of your day, take a moment to realize that you work is essential to the community and you are appreciated.
Attached is your certificate of appreciation (because we can’t give you a bonus) to help remind you that your work is valuable and makes an impact.
The Social Worker’s Companion Blog
If you want to submit your own name, I won’t tell ; )