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Social Work: Analysis Of The Impact On The Field Of Practice And Organization

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Introduction

Social work is pegged on attending to the human condition i.e. making sure that everyone is whole mentally and physically so that they can co-exist with the people around them. The result or the intended result of such efforts in social work is a community and a society at large, which is complete to living in harmony. For all social workers to be successful, sound leadership practices must be in the picture (Lawler, 2007). This paper is looking to find out ways to practice leadership in social work and to analyze the primary characteristics of leadership in social work and its effects; this it will do through the lens of a real-life social work leader.

Identifying a Leader

Ahmed is a social work leader that I identified. He lives in Heidelberg West and helps Somali Australians that get to the country to resettle. I chose this particular social worker because his work is unique and his qualifications meet AASW requirements. AASW contributes to society by achieving various factors such as individual wellbeing, human rights, and social justice (Australian Association of Social Workers (2020). The functions of AASW include; Building member’s professionalism, provision of management and governance, improve relations with international bodies, and advocate for social injustice. AASW uses a structured code of ethics which governs Australia’s social worker’s conducts while promoting their interests

The Australian Association of Social Workers is committed to providing exemplary service to the social worker’s community Australian Association of Social Workers (2011). It is also a member of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). There are various publications that AASW offers to the public such as the quarterly journal called Australian Social Work and a social worker’s journal called Research and Thinking’. These articles discuss the county’s social, political, and economic policies.

Ahmed’s concern for the human condition surpasses the need to make sure that people have basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. He helps Somali Australians to fit into Australian culture and teaches them whatever practices that pass as normative social constructs. This is something that he has been able to do for more than five years. Ahmed’s experience and training on the ground made him the perfect candidate for me. Having been educated in Australia’s RMIT University and being of Somali descent made him the perfect candidate for the interview. Given the type of social work he does, it is possible to see that Ahmed’s style of leadership has to be directed or inspired by advocacy. If he were asked, advocacy means to take someone else’s challenging situations and assume that they are your own, and later on seek help through legal channels just to see that said challenges are gone. On a practical level, Ahmed provides plenty of recommendations or public support for a particular policy or cause; he also believes in equity and equality application in all settings, even where he works.

Concerning the Australian Association of Social Workers, Ahmed is fit as a leader because he demonstrates the right code of ethics and responsibilities that are important to and represent the social work profession. His intention has always been assisting all people in need, individually and collectively, and to act in ethically accountable ways, in search of aims tied to social work (Cullen, 2013). It also became apparent to me that I identified Ahmed and see him as a leader because he reflects my values in social work and these revolve around service, competence, social justice, integrity, dignity, and worth of the individual, and relevance of human relationships. I also see him as a leader because he does not seek to be superior to the staff he works with; he is a promoter of collaborative leadership and the bottom-up approach as decisions come from staff and team and work their way up. Together, they make all the decisions.

One change that Ahmed and the partners that he works with have been able to provide when working with Somali Australian community is to lead a co-design process that established the first Somali community-led project. At the start of 2016, Ahmed and the rest of his partners got involved in an all-encompassing process of co-design involving 123 individuals of the Somali Australian people in West Heidelberg together with the state and representatives from the local government, organizations helping community members, and other primary stakeholders. Consultation with the West Heidelberg Somali Australian community during the co-design phase revealed significant and specific needs. The needs in question, which are continuously achieved, include better outcomes in employment, leadership based on community and religion, early childhood Parenting, wider services in the community, and effective social programs.

Work done to impact leadership practices

The work done by Ahmed and other philanthropic social work leaders revolve around the goals mentioned above. When canvassed about possible ways to address the needs and their underlying causes, the co-design community participants and leaders were unanimous in their view that culturally sensitive and supportive employment initiatives were necessary and had so far played an important role in their lives. Spiritual/religious guidance and support from English speaking Somali Australian imams were identified as important for young people and are practiced by Ahmed and his partners. Parenting programs and support were considered necessary, as were school tutoring, mentoring, and holiday camps for children and their parents. There was the recognition that young Somali Australians needed to have easier access to culturally friendly services to help them with mental health, drug and alcohol, and other health services.

Overall, the capacity of Ahmed and his fellow social workers to help the vulnerable fit in a foreign land is impressive. Impacting the lives of Somali Australians in this way gives them hope and encouragement that good people still exist in the world. Matter of fact, such actions raise the humanitarian banner high and promote more social work activities in many different parts of the world.

Policies Applied to Impact Leadership Practices

The social work conducted by Ahmed and his other colleagues revolves around several policies. These policies are used by social leaders to address instances of the shortage of skilled workers and the provision of services to low-income communities. A policy program such as the Network for Social Work Management (NSWM) is a policy model which ensures social workers can deal with the complex situation (Hernandez, Bishop, and Higgs, 2018). In this case, Ahmed can apply the use of this policy especially if he experiences barriers in providing basic needs to immigrants or refugees. The NSWM program prepares the Somali Australians to fit in the Somali culture through mentorship and guidance. It provides them with efficient resources that assist them to undertake project-based learning programs. These programs assist the residents to increase their learning capacity and develop soft skills through various mentorship programs.

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Partnership Project with La Trobe University

Ahmed has also improved his social work skills by partnering with La Trobe University. He did a project with the University on youth unemployment research. His main role was to establish the reasons that would make the sponsored students lack job opportunities after completing their studies at La Trobe University. He implements various leadership styles such as the transformational leadership style to ensure he coordinates well with his team of social workers. In 2018, the project was evaluated and it was considered to be successful in terms of addressing the needs of students. The timeline which had been set for eighteen months was exceeded by the project. It assisted Ahmed to prove that there is a need for such community projects as they fostered demand from residents, participation from the community, and obtained a vast number of responses from participants.

Benefits of the Project

The effects obtained from the project were measured from the outcomes of all the programs initiated from the start. There have been instances of social change where the team partnered with government authorities to improve educational facilities. This step was to ensure each child, especially from the Somali Australian community receives an adequate education. It also ensured more jobs were available to the residents so that they may have an efficient source of living. These positive outcomes are encouraged in the Somalia Australian community as it benefits their lives and improves their standards of living.

Through Ahmed’s advocacy work, the mainstream firms like Vic Pol can receive the best cultural research and training facilities. Vic Pol can also partner with some institutions which offer similar programs for the Himilo Community. The connection provides reports on better service engagements with Somalia Australian community. There are also notable improvements among the youth in these communities due to the availability of job opportunities. The local schools have also improved their relations with guardians, parents, students, and mentors. Other benefits include the availability of maternal services to the Somalia Australian community and more opportunities for the youth such as the Banyule City Council internship program. The benefit of this program is to provide the youth with more employment opportunities and extensive research with La Trobe University.

Style and approach to leadership

Transformational leadership

The leader’s style and approach to leadership are transformational. The style of leadership exercised by the social worker interviewed involves collaborating with teams to find out necessary changes, coming up with a vision to drive the change employing inspiration, and executing the change in line with committed members of a group. It is a relevant part of the full range leadership model. Transformational leadership is all about making a positive difference i.e. turning around a negative situation into a positive one albeit permanently. For example, whenever an opportunity arises to help children in a children’s home, working with a transformational mindset is not only about getting the food to eat over the weekend but to find a way of getting them food constantly e.g. finding them a sponsor that will fund them all through their stay in the foster home (Gardner, 2016; Sullivan, 2016). For the case of Ahmed, his aim is usually to take over the situation of people, who are often lost and uninformed at first and turn their lives around (effect transformation). For transformational leadership to work effectively, involving a transactional style of leadership is important. Transactional leadership is very much focused on performance and management. It requires a leader to be pragmatic and to inspire their team to be focused on cause and effect (Payne, 2014; Gellis, 2001).

Mix of approaches depending on the situation?

Even though Ahmed’s leadership style is largely transformational, he is aware and makes use of different leadership styles depending on the situation that he is in. He mentioned that the work he does makes it difficult for him to feel like a leader (Gellis, 2001). This in itself is evidence that a lot of servant leadership is involved. Servant leadership is an approach to leadership where the main objective of the leader is to serve. Other than servant leadership, it is fitting to say that Ahmed’s style of leadership is situational. It is situational in the sense that depending on the situation a Somali Australian is in, Ahmed will adopt a leadership style that best suits the situation (Fisher, 2009). Situational leadership is an adaptive leadership style that requires leaders to take stock of the people they are working with, weigh the numerous variables within the workplace, and select the style of leadership that best suits immediate goals and circumstances. Situational leadership requires a lot of flexibility because it encompasses the flexibility to exercise many styles of leadership despite a natural or learned inclination towards a particular favorite style of leadership (which for Ahmed’s case is transformational leadership). There are times when Ahmed has to be authoritative and there are times when he has to be democratic. Authoritativeness comes in when he gives strict directives to his subordinates (McDonald & Chenoweth, 2009). On the flip side, Ahmed understands situations where the people he deals with have to make personal choices; he will, for example, ask them what their preferences are or what job they feel suits them best when he is helping Somali Australians to seek jobs (Frederico, 2018).

Impact

What he does as a leader

What Ahmed is doing as a leader resonates with advocacy for the community as a whole. His vision is for the community to have culturally appropriate services. To achieve the vision in question, he educates service providers on how to be inclusive, creates cultural awareness, and identifies and addresses the social problems that affect young people in the community. The problems in question include the misuse of drugs and alcohol, youth unemployment, and family violence. For example, Ahmed is currently identifying any new individuals of Somali origin or otherwise through his Himilo Community Connect Program that have arrived in Australia. After he identifies them, he helps them to settle down through finding housing, schools, jobs, and health insurance. Ahmed is mainly inspired by transformational leadership and this makes him engage in different leadership styles such as servant leadership just so that the people he serves get help.

If there’s been a social change – how has it changed the work?

This social worker’s work has positively impacted social justice and social change. He has aimed to make all people feel comfortable in their skin irrespective of where they are located and irrespective of whom they are. Through case studies he was able to speak of in the course of the interview, Ahmed’s positive impact on social justice became clear. He has been able to make Somali Australians get the best social standing they could get in Australia. Through getting them jobs, means for housing, healthcare insurance coverage, and citizenship documentation, he wards off the possibility of them being stereotyped. This is because hunger, poverty, and sleeping on the streets make Somali Australians, like any other vulnerable individuals globally, easy targets for discrimination (McDonald & Chenoweth, 2009). Contrastingly, a well-educated and employed Somali Australian that lives in the suburbs with their family has health insurance coverage and drives an SUV that has pretty much the same social standing as the indigenous population and is much unlikely to experience discrimination. All things considered, Ahmed successfully leads through advocacy to get social justice for his people. Through programs such as Himilo Community Connect Program, he has been able to help any Somali Australians he comes across to enjoy many social, political, and economic opportunities that their indigenous Australian counterparts enjoy.

Second, an overall positive impact on social change has been achieved locally in Heidelberg West and generally in Australia. This is because Ahmed’s leadership style (one that is based on advocacy) and his success stories create awareness and inspire social work all over the world. Inspiration is important as it will drive existing and prospective social workers into action. Note that social work is traditionally never hinged on for-profit purposes, it is driven by philanthropy. As such, it requires a lot of inspiration.

Conclusion

It takes a great deal of courage to help out other people especially when a profit-making incentive is not involved. This is what social work is all about. Through Ahmed’s story, it is demonstrable that social workers intend to achieve utilitarian ends. Utilitarian goals and objectives are bent on finding the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

References

  1. Australian Association of Social Workers (2011). Code of Ethics. AASW Journal Information
  2. Australian Association of Social Workers (2020). Functions of AASW. https://www.aasw.asn.au/about-aasw/about-aasw
  3. Cullen, A. F. (2013). ‘Leaders in Our Own Lives’: Suggested Indications for Social Work Leadership from a Study of Social Work Practice in a Palliative Care Setting. British Journal of Social Work, 43(8), 1527-1544.
  4. Fisher, E. A. (2009). Motivation and leadership in social work management: A review of theories and related studies. Administration in social work, 33(4), 347-367.
  5. Frederico, M. (2018). Developing effective leadership in Child and Family Practice: Types of leadership. In Leadership in Child and Family Practice (pp. 62-76). Routledge Academic.
  6. Gardner, F. (2016). Working with human services organizations. Newbury Park, Calif.: Oxford University Press.
  7. Gellis, Z. D. (2001). Social work perceptions of transformational and transactional leadership in health care. Social work research, 25(1), 17-25.
  8. Hernandez, Nidia, Bishop, Lindsey, and Higgs, Emily (2018). Developing policy and management leaders: eight social work policy fellows share their experiences, case studies, and recommendations for leadership development. Journal of Human Service Organizations; Volume 42, Issue 3
  9. Lawler, J. (2007). Leadership in social work: A case of caveat emptor?.British Journal of Social Work, 37(1), 123-141.
  10. McDonald, C., & Chenoweth, L. (2009). Leadership: A crucial ingredient in unstable times. Social Work & Society, 7(1), 102-112.
  11. Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory. Oxford University Press.
  12. Sullivan, W. P. (2016). Leadership in social work: Where are we?.Journal of Social Work Education, 52(sup1), S51-S61.

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Social Work: Analysis Of The Impact On The Field Of Practice And Organization. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-work-analysis-of-the-impact-on-the-field-of-practice-and-organization/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Social Work: Analysis Of The Impact On The Field Of Practice And Organization [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 21 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-work-analysis-of-the-impact-on-the-field-of-practice-and-organization/
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