Transformative Supervision: Book Review

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.

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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!

 

 

Reader’s Choice!

The Social Worker’s Companion Blog is here to support those who support others (specifically those in the Social Work field). So, that means this blog is here to support YOU.

So, with that in mind, what do you want to see from the Social Worker’s companion blog? What do you what to read that would support you more in your work?

  • A certain practice technique?
  • Tools for direct client work?
  • Tools for supervision?
  • Stories and connection to support the emotional difficultly of the helping profession?

Write me  comment or send me direct message at Contact

Thanks all : )

Mandy

Social Workers as Mothers

Special post today  exploring the experience of being a mother and a social worker.

As I am only a cat momma, and I believe in only writing what I know, I decided to  interview my mother, who has worked at DHS Child Welfare since I was a child.

My main question was this: How do you think being a social worker has affected you as a parent?

For my mom, being a social worker has had upsides and downsides to her own parenting experience.

CHALLENGES

One of the major difficulties is the emotional demands of the social work profession. One only has so much emotional energy in a day, especially in the child welfare field  “with new kids coming into the system every week, the work load can be crushing.” So it leaves mothers who are social workers in the tough place of feeling like they can’t do justice to their job or their work fully.

In child welfare you see so many people that aren’t very self aware, reactive, when they are mad, they punish. They are not bad people, they are parents who were never parented.

While persons who harm children are a very small portion of a population, as a child welfare social worker you are inundated with stories of abuse and neglect. This can skew one’s perspective about the world. For my mom, this caused the tendency to be cautious and over protective. That skewed perspective puts a higher level of anxiety on the parenting experience.

POSITIVES

Social work jobs tend to be family oriented. They  support workers taking off to go to school activities and be involved with their children.”You appreciate your kids more,  you just want to hug them when you get home.”

Social work builds a host of  communication skills, child development knowledge, parenting courses, stress management and more. These skills can be beneficial in one’s own personal life and family.

That doesn’t mean that social workers are perfect parents. As my mom explained “it’s still challenging being a parent even when you know the right thing to do. When it is your child you don’t always see things clearly. You have a different reaction. You won’t handle situations  objectively like you may with a client. But the difference is you know where to reach out for help, resources.”

My final question was the proverbial ” What would you tell other social workers who are mothers?

“You have to leave work at work, be present for your family. Just leave work undone, you just have to leave it.”

Even though I’m not a mother, I would add one note as one closing this interview.

Have grace for yourself. You are doing justice to your job and your family. Who knows, your kids may grow up to be social workers themselves.

Any mothers out there doing the social work that have a thought to add?

Mandy

Is Fair Housing Really Fair?

Check out the new piece I wrote on the status of the Fair Housing Act and how helping professional can use the act to help vulnerable individuals access and enjoy housing.

Check out the article at Is the Fair Housing Act Failing? It’s in the Social Work Helper, a great online news sign with content relevant to social work.

Fair Housing.PNG

 

Let me know what you think and have a great weekend all!

Mandy

The New Social Worker Magazine

Hi all,

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

new social worker

Music for the Social Worker’s Playlist

Anyone who has met me knows I think a lot about music. I like to play it, create it, and enjoy it. Lyrics from certain songs have had a significant impact on how I see the world and have also helped me to process emotions.

I keep an ear out for songs that have social or emotional value, as well as musical beauty. The song featured below checks all those boxes. Her message to society and those who have experience sexual assault is clear, as well as empathetic. It is a connection point to those who may have experienced assault or walked a friend through such an experience.

As someone who works in the homelessness field, the song is especially poignant for me. You don’t have to work very long in the homelessness field to hear story after story about those assaulted while just trying to find a safe place to sleep each night. That’s why it is on this social worker’s playlist.

Boys will be Boys- Stella Donnelly

 

 

What songs have had an impact on you recently?

Mandy

Out of sight…

The work social workers do could often be summed up this way…working to remind society of those that tend to be forgotten.

Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, said it this way-

“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”

So we remind them. And, we remind ourselves.

In my undergrad years, I did an year long BSW internship with a home health agency. I worked with their LCSW. One day we got called out to a rural area to meet with a senior who was recovering from heart surgery. The visiting nurse thought a social worker should be involved.

His trailer was pretty dim due to the thick nicotine stains in the windows. We sat on a couch to start the visit and I remember the ash that had built up over time covered every surface. I realized there was soiled laundry piled on the ground.

He was nearly blind. He was a veteran, but unconnected to VA services. That first visit consisted of assessing the various areas of his life while on hold with the VA, whose physical office was a 2 hour drive away.

During that wait time, we found that the only food in the house was a half-eaten box of doughnuts. We found that every month he paid his space rent, bought cigarettes, and then gave the rest of his disability check to his grandson, who had just had a child of his own and was struggling to make ends meet.

Importantly, we found that giving this money to his grandson was the one act that still gave meaning to his life. It was the one reason he still wanted to be alive.

As we drove away , with a splitting headache from the copious amounts of second hand smoke, I wondered how someone could have flown totally under the radar of all the social systems and even the natural supports usually in place. As I continued in the practice of social work, I would learn that for seniors, and many other populations, it is not uncommon to be totally out of sight to mainstream society.

It was also an important lesson in how to connect with the inner purpose that makes someone want to get up in the morning, to let the work flow from there.

It was one of those cases that you never forget. It made me look at my community differently. It made me wonder what the lives behind each door in my neighborhood were really like.

Mandy

p. s. I would love to hear what case has had a particular impact on you. Drop me a email.