Social Work Leadership Plan

Introduction

In social work, management and leadership are often perceived to be similar. Nevertheless, these roles differ significantly based on the capacities and attributes of the people who occupy them. Whereas the management is usually concerned with organisational practices, regulation and productivity, a leader can control reflective orientation by applying their abilities to articulate and envision social work in different ways. According to McDermott and Bawden (2017), there are five core attributes of social work leadership: an influential character, team playing, organisation, collaboration, problem-solving and a desire for positive change.

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Transformational leadership is defined mainly by the leader’s charisma and vision. However, this leadership style also includes other positive characteristics, such as stimulation, communication, intellect and consideration of people’s needs. Transformational leaders work by motivating followers by means that are far beyond financial rewards. Gellis (2001) posits that transformational leadership style initiates organisational change by emphasising the adoption of new values and focusing on the future, which combine to transcend the status quo.

Transformational leadership is strategic because leaders defined by this style develop talents amongst staff and promote individual growth as one of the most important elements to implement change of behaviour amongst practitioners. Hassan and Silong (2008) also note that transformational leadership is mostly practiced by senior leaders.

Transformational leadership relates to social work in a number of ways. For example, results of services related to social work depend primarily on employees and other stakeholders in a social amenity. It is, therefore, important to incorporate a strategy that will lead to positive results of services on social work. Team members prefer leaders who can understand their needs and motivate them while also allowing for their individual development. As a result, transformational leaders can achieve great results in social work due to their adaptability and connectedness to followers.

Identification for a Need of EPP

The contemporary healthcare sector relies heavily on evidence-based practice. Shlonsky and Fuller-Thomson (2011) note that evidence-based practice is critical to resolving various issues faced by clinics and care providers.

For instance, with appropriate evidence, the team would be able to work with funders who support activity-based financing (McDermott & Bawden 2017; Drisko & Grady 2015). In addition, evidence-based practice is connected to professional integrity, which is among the key values in social work (Australian Association of Social Workers [AASW] 2010). Finally, evidence-based practice is essential to ensuring positive patient outcomes and the appropriate conduct of employees. Thus, the stakeholders involved in evidence-based practice are working teams, the management, funders and clients.

Nevertheless, when it comes to evidence-based practice, social workers often lack critical skills, such as analysing research findings and applying them in their work (McDermott & Bawden 2017). Moreover, there are a number of barriers faced by social workers in conducting research in health settings, such as the disengagement of care providers, time constraints and the lack of resources or organisational support (McDermott & Bawden 2017). Transformational leadership can be used to support employees in building the skills and agency required to adhere to the standards of evidence-based practice, thus enhancing their performance.

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Purpose of the Study

The aim of the proposed project is to explain the effectiveness of evidence-based practice programs and interventions for the clients. Transformational leadership will support the project by improving the team members’ motivation and engagement (Guerrero et al. 2015). As a result of applying the strategy, a collaborative decision-making platform involving patients and practitioners can be developed to support evidence-based practice. The team working on the Evidence for Practice Project plans to achieve this by increasing the awareness about evidence-based practice, determining the role of transformational leadership in healthcare research and practice and gaining more information on planning and implementing evidence-based practice.

Goals of Strategy

The strategy has the following goals:

  • To explain the need for team members to adhere to evidence-based practice standards.
  • To identify the gaps in skills, knowledge, organisational culture and work characteristics that prevent team members from adequately engaging in evidence-based practice.
  • To outline the skills, techniques and abilities important to multidisciplinary team members that engage in evidence-based practice.
  • To investigate and describe proven ways of implementing evidence-based practice standards in multidisciplinary teams.
  • To explore the effectiveness of transformational leadership style in supporting evidence-based research and practice activities.
  • To determine how the transformational leadership strategy can be implemented in community-based healthcare organisations.

Description of Strategy/ Leadership Role

The chosen site is a community mental health centre in Springvale, Melbourne, Australia. The community is largely comprised of culturally diverse working-class people. The organisation obtains funding from corporate and governmental sources, including trusts and foundations. Due to the culturally diverse client population, there is a need to evaluate the customers’ expectations with regards to services.

Leadership Role

Guided by transformational and transactional leadership styles, I will first hold a meeting with the rest of the team to discuss the program and determine the ways it can be implemented. McDermott and Bawden (2017) emphasised the need to demonstrate excellence and innovation by evidence-based practice. Therefore, the meeting will discuss the matter to establish shared goals, model the project and recommend operational management principles.

To a leader, it is important to ensure that workers remain engaged throughout the change project. Therefore, a shift in the leadership style from transformational to transactional may be required to improve their motivation in case the project faces some difficulties. For example, according to Guerrero et al. (2015), transactional leadership style involves rewarding the best performing workers. If it requires incorporation of other leadership styles to affect the project, transactional leadership shall be sought. This style is especially useful for initiating change, and granting rewards to support performance might help to overcome barriers where needed.

Regular meetings are essential to achieving excellent project outcomes and fulfilling its goals. For instance, Nanjundeswaraswamy and Swamy (2014) argue that setting weekly meetings allows generating regular progress reports, which, in turn, can help to track performance and adjust strategy to prevent problems. Apart from discussing the progress, weekly meetings will also allow employees to share their feedback on the management style, both positive and negative. The comments from all employees will be analysed to define targets for improvement.

If the team members are unwilling to perform some of the tasks or refuse to cooperate, it will be crucial to determine the reason in order to find a solution. If there is an issue that cannot be addressed successfully, it would be advisable to try a different motivation strategy or revise the strategy to promote compliance and cooperation. In working as part of a team, it is critical to give all members individual consideration. Transformational leadership should be used to determine and address their needs, abilities and aspirations, whereas transactional leadership can help to achieve success through positive reinforcement.

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Resources

There are three main resources that are critical to project success. Firstly, additional training will be required for team members to engage in research. Secondly, the project will require funding to provide rewards to employees and to cover the costs of additional training (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy 2014). Thirdly, the project will depend on institutional support from at least three resources. The organisation will be expected to relieve the team members’ workload on some days of the week, whereas research partnerships with an organisation and a local university would help to support employees in their research activities.

Securing Resources

Securing the resources for this project would require meeting with managers, university research teams and organisations. Advocating the need for the project will help to obtain funding and organisational support required to achieve the goals. When meeting with the chosen university and organisation, the project leader will present a detailed schedule of the project and the research plan that would stipulate the team’s needs for institutional support. Applying transformational theory to negotiations would be helpful, as it would allow generating support for the project. The primary challenge to securing resources is the lack of cooperation among the involved parties, that is why it should be constantly monitored.

Project Process Steps

Activity Timeline Anticipated outcome Linkage
Unfreezing
Meeting with the team members
Task division
One week Show interest, share ideas, propose changes, address challenges Explain the importance of evidence-based practice and identify needs
Change
Implementing the project
Engaging with managers and institutions
Three weeks Successfully implement the project, facilitate cooperation, gather information Establishes evidence-based practice with the help of transformational leadership
Refreezing
Reinforcement
Evaluation
Change application
Five weeks Obtain the feedback, apply the strategy in healthcare institutions in the societies. The benefits of evidence-based practice and transformational leadership are documented

Evaluation

The project will be evaluated based on reports and feedback from managers, leaders, workers, clients, patients and practitioners. Since the transformational leadership strategy targets human resources, project performance will be measured based on qualitative data on its perceived efficiency, value and benefits. In addition, the effectiveness of the project will be judged based on the team’s compliance with evidence-based practice standards. For instance, data quality and data collection methods will be evaluated as part of the assessment.

As the project was initially designed to inform the management of the team’s work, interviews with the management will also be held in order to determine whether or not this aim has been fulfilled. Information on funding and resources provided to support the team would also reflect the management’s awareness of its contribution. Finally, to explore whether or not the project is sustainable, the evaluation will be repeated in 6 and 12 months after completion.

Conflict/Challenge Management

Limited Confidence in Ability to Do Research

Not all team members may possess the right skills to undertake the research activities designated to them despite their interest or cooperation in the project. However, competency in a project team will be ensured by training, regular assessment and team work spirit. One of the project activities is to develop a working budget and allocate resources to project activities appropriately. A significant proportion of the project is dedicated to training and staffing. According to Aga, Noorderhaven and Vallejo (2016), transformational leadership is empirically supported; therefore, the staff will require special training on data collection and analysis methods.

The project management team is tasked with mediating the role of team-building as a major determinant for the success of the project (Aga, Noorderhaven & Vallejo 2016). Team-building is directly related to the transformation leadership style. Using an evidence-based research in a field study involving 200 participants in one of the Ethiopian non-governmental organisations has proved that team-building has a significant contribution to the success of the transformational leadership strategy and thus, determines the success of a project.

Similarly, Kerzner and Kerzner (2017) noted that project planning, scheduling and controlling are important project activities. Therefore, the planning phase of the project shall ensure that all the matters are addressed before it is started. Scheduling will also allocate sufficient time and funds for conducting training and staffing. Abilities of project team members will be boosted by assigning roles specific to the skills of team members.

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For example, the project will involve people from different fields such as finance, project management, social work and healthcare (Kerzner & Kerzner 2017). Diversity in skills and experience will guarantee that the project team consists of specialists in their fields, who are able to perform their duties well. Ability can also be assessed by the regular assessment of the performance of each team member. Furthermore, regular examination of progress will ensure that all team members meet minimum requirements. Using standard methods of research, analysis, data collection, survey and performance expectations may also enhance abilities.

Lack of Fund for Activities

Addressing all the issues of limited confidence requires huge expenditure if the project is to be successful. In addition, incorporating different skills requires experts for efficient decision-making in all project practices. In turn, the project’s budget needs to be adjusted to cater for any additional cost. During project planning, a number of financiers will be identified and will be approached with a proposal outlining the project’s goals and budget.

The project targets corporates, trusts, foundations and government for financing. The challenge of limited funds will also be addressed by allocating funds appropriately and proportionally. For instance, since training requires more attention as a determinant for project success, a higher percentage of funds shall be spent on this activity. Much focus is put on effectiveness and outcomes. Thus, it is worthwhile to invest in training since it is one of the most valued project phases.

Carayol and Lanoë (2017) determined that governments support research done in organisations and institutions in a number of ways. Project funding by the government has increased the interest of researchers and the network of collaborators of funded individuals. Co-authors also join a research project following the resources offered by the government. In addition, corporates fund projects on social work as one of the key performance indicators in its evaluation (Carayol & Lanoë 2017). Therefore, having established the desire of corporate and government to fund a project in order to attain their development goals, financiers will be approached with a plan, a strategy created by the project team for money allocation.

In other words, financiers understand that funding a project opens up new opportunities to addresses original problems. In turn, a project whose objectives are attainable and sustainable is termed as worth to invest in. The government and corporates supporting this project are attracted by the objectives of research that involves realising benefits of employees and identifying effects and risks associated with research-based projects (Carayol & Lanoë 2017). The innovative nature of the project gives it a chance to be funded in accordance with what is stated in the project proposal’s budget.

Frontline Workers Have Too Much Workload

Uneven work distribution may result in overload and hence inefficiency of the output. Best performing and experienced workers end up tackling the most challenging tasks leading to overload. Firstly, to address this challenge, the leader shall break down the tasks and distribute them evenly. For example, each day of the week can be set for a particular task. Alternatively, 2 workers may be assigned to a particular task.

The leader may also plan from Monday to Tuesday to have a group of workers, designated as A to work on research while group B works with clients. As from Wednesday to Thursday the schedule is changed. Group A helps clients while group B works on research. On the last day, Friday, both groups A and B work with clients.

Secondly, frontline workers will also be categorised by skills and knowledge. Therefore, they will be assigned technical tasks in their areas of expertise. Project team members will hold regular meetings to assess the progress of the project. During these meetings, all the members will present their progress and offer feedback from clients within their respective departments. The reports will be compiled by frontline workers who will evaluate the performance of the project from all technical and social perspectives.

The conflict of balancing the workload among project team members can be addressed by responsibility sharing, where individuals with easy tasks can be assigned more work unlike those handling the technical aspects of the project. Division of work proportionally amongst project team members ensures role playing. Liabilities can also be identified and relevant solutions may be created by distributing the most demanding sections of the project to people with the right skills and giving them ample time to work on it.

In a related study by Edwards et al. (2018), it was established that appropriate delegation of tasks in a health care centre for primary care providers to all team members reduces employee burnout. However, the delegation process is uncertain in terms of delegations associated with burnouts and tasks that occur within multidisciplinary teams (Edwards et al. 2018). Having established the need for delegation of tasks among frontline workers, the basis of delegation may include skills, workload and competence in the workplace.

Conclusion

The transformational leadership style has captured the attention of researchers for the past few years. In attempt to explain this further, this research embarked on a project that utilises the transformational leadership style to enable evidence-based practice in social work service delivery. A need for the evidence-based practice project in a healthcare centre has been established in communities. Trained personnel will be assigned different tasks. The success of the project will be determined by feedback from managers, patients, clients and society. However, project challenges during initialisation and implementation phases may be addressed by division of work, appropriate and proportionate fund allocation and an equal distribution of roles.

Reference List

Aga, DA, Noorderhaven, N & Vallejo, B 2016, ‘Transformational leadership and project success: the mediating role of team-building’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 806-818.

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) 2010, Code of ethics. Web.

Carayol, N & Lanoë, M 2017, ‘The impact of project-based funding in science: lessons from the ANR experience, University of Bordeaux, no. 2017-04, pp. 1-27.

Drisko, W & Grady MD 2015, ‘Evidence-based practice in social work: a contemporary perspective’, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 274-282.

Edwards, ST, Helfrich, CD, Grembowski, D, Hulen, E, Clinton, WL, Wood, GB, Kim, L, Gellis, ZD 2001, ‘Social work perceptions of transformational and transactional leadership in health care’, Social Work Research, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 17-25.

Guerrero, EG, Padwa, H, Fenwick, K, Harris, LM & Aarons, GA 2015, ‘Identifying and ranking implicit leadership strategies to promote evidence-based practice implementation in addiction health services’, Implementation Science, vol. 11, no. 1, p. 69.

Hassan, Z & Silong, AD 2008, ‘Women leadership and community development,’ European Journal of Scientific Research, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 361-372.

Kerzner, H & Kerzner, HR 2017, Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling, John Wiley & Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ.

McDermott, F & Bawden, G 2017, ‘New ways of seeing: health social work leadership and research capacity building’, Social Work in Health Care, vol. 56, no. 10, pp. 897-913.

Nanjundeswaraswamy, TS & Swamy, DR 2014, ‘Leadership styles’, Advances in Management, vol. 7, no. 2, p. 57.

Shlonsky, A, Baker, TM & Fuller-Thomson, E 2011, ‘Using methodological search filters to facilitate evidence-based social work practice’, Clinical Social Work Journal, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 390-399.

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