Journal Article

Leadership in Social Work: A Case of Caveat Emptor?

John Lawler

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 1, pages 123-141
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Leadership in Social Work: A Case of Caveat Emptor?

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This article examines the current interest in leadership in general and the growing interest in leadership in social work, in particular. It highlights the lack of a generalized definition of the word and the different ways it is interpreted in social work. The implicit assumptions on which much leadership writing appears to be founded are noted. Leadership can be seen as a further development of the managerial agenda, from one perspective, or as a countervailing factor maintaining professional autonomy, from another. In considering some of the components of leadership as identified by some in the field, the paper considers the extent to which these skills are exclusive to leadership and asks whether they might already be present but overlooked in the profession. The paper concludes that expectations of leadership within social work would benefit from debate and clarification if this is to be a useful future theme.

Keywords: social work leadership; leadership and management

Journal Article.  8300 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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