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Developing a Leadership Statement Your Responsive Leadership in Social Services textbook discusses several domains for inspiration. Leadership development

Developing a Leadership Statement Your Responsive Leadership in Social Services textbook discusses several domains for inspiration. Leadership development

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Developing a Leadership Statement Your Responsive Leadership in Social Services textbook discusses several domains for inspiration. Leadership development involves practices of self-reflection and seeking mentorship. These practices take time to develop and are likely to change over time based on specific situations, roles, programs, or processes.

In your initial post, discuss your reflections on the following question from the end of Chapter 6 in your textbook:

“What insights and strategies offered within the domains stimulated ideas or thinking for you around possibilities for inspiration?” (deGroot, 2016, p. 170). 

How does a leader’s philosophy and ability to inspire others shape the capacity to build successful collaborative teams? 157

6
Doing Quality Leadership

Practical Strategies for Inspiring

You may be theoretically rich but practically poor.

— Pushpa Rana

T
his book has worked, from the beginning, to simplify the
concept of leadership. Leadership was defined as a process by
which an individual or individuals inspire the attitudes and

behaviors of others to engage in value-based and purpose-critical efforts
in order to accomplish a set of shared objectives. Leadership is about
inspiration—the capacity to be the source or cause to motivate, stimulate,
and/or bring forth the positive attitudes and behaviors of others.

We know that quality leadership is inextricably linked to
enhanced worker motivation, engagement, job satisfaction, and
organizational commitment. Quality leadership also has a positive
impact on practice decisions and subsequently on the positive and
preferred outcomes for clients. Simply put, when supervisors and
managers lead, their workers are inspired and so too are the people
they serve and support. So far, this book has provided a variety of
insights and key points on how supervisors and managers can
inspire workers to feel better, be better, and do better as they carry
out their important role of helping others.

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE158

Leaders can inspire by utilizing a responsive approach to leadership in
the context of supervision and management. This approach posits that
supervisors can inspire in key ways, such as

• making quality leader–member relationships a priority,

• operationalizing important and guiding values,

• getting to know the needs, values, goals, and strengths of workers,

• getting to know what motivates workers to engage and perform
optimally, and

• utilizing a strengths-based approach in the context of supervi-
sion and performance development.

As stated previously, it was not my intent to present a model of
supervision and/or management in the social services but to simplify
leadership in a way that offers leaders in the field knowledge and prac-
tical strategies for motivating and engaging their team members to
perform optimally as they carry out their work as helpers. Being a
responsive leader is about having the capacity to tune into and respond
to the needs, values, goals, and strengths of the people one is respon-
sible for leading. While a Responsive Leadership Approach is indeed
inspiring, there are many practical ways that a supervisor/manager
can inspire workers to feel better, be better, and do better.

All supervisors can learn to inspire! And if you are already a super-
visor that inspires, I already know that you are open to learning how
to inspire even more. How would I know that? Because that’s also
what great leaders do—they never cease learning how to be better for
themselves and for their people!

This chapter will provide you and all supervisors in social services
with insights into important areas for consideration and offer practical
strategies for inspiring staff and teams to feel better, be better, and do better
as they carry out their work with children, youth, families, and commu-
nities. In order to best organize the tools and strategies offered herein, I
have categorized specific areas based on the Key Performance Motivators
outlined in Chapter 3. I refer to the seven categories as domains for inspira-
tion. While there were more than seven Key Performance Motivators
identified earlier in the book, all of them can fit within the identified
categories and are relevant to the seven domains below:

• Relationship

• Vision and Values

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
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159Chapter 6 Doing Quality Leadership

• Mission and Goals

• Appreciative

• Personal and/or Professional

• Feedback

• Strengths Focus

As stated in Chapter 3, individual workers are motivated by differ-
ent things at different times. It is important for the supervisor to figure
out collaboratively with each worker which Key Performance
Motivators are relevant for inspiration. Once the supervisor has an
understanding of which domain areas are the most relevant to a worker,
the ideas and strategies offered in each domain provide helpful sources
of inspiration.

Prior to getting started and considering which domains are rele-
vant to workers, it may be helpful for supervisors to encourage each
worker on the team to fill out a Key Performance Motivator Appraisal
Form, offered in Chapter 3. This may help identify which domains may
be most relevant to the member.

The insights and practical strategies offered below have been
informed by years of practice experience, evidence-based research, and
principles of best practice. You may recognize some of the ideas
and approaches offered here, as some have been mentioned, and build
on tools already presented in preceding chapters. If you are already
prioritizing some of these critical areas and are utilizing the subsequent
strategies for inspiring and motivating your members, keep it up; you
are making a positive difference for them and their clients. There may
be some things below that stimulate thinking or feeling; some may
remind you of things you already know are important, and/or some
items presented may inspire you to try something new.

� RELATIONSHIP DOMAIN

A relationship that is based on acceptance, understanding, trust, respect,
and integrity is absolutely essential as a foundation for staff learning,
development, and performance. In addition to this, very few people
will admire, cooperate with, or “follow” a leader when they have little
to no trust and respect for that person. These relational ingredients are
important as they provide the basis for safe and nonjudgmental com-
munication and support. Great supervisors get to know their members’

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE160

needs, values, goals, and strengths through relationships. The better a
supervisor knows their members, the better able she will be to respond
to their needs and desires and more likely she will be able to match
supervisory support and resources accordingly.

Furthermore, up to this point, the chapters have demonstrated
what most of us already know from our practice wisdom: that the
supervisor–worker relationship and supervisor support contribute to
improved job satisfaction, increased motivation and engagement,
enhanced practice, and preferred outcomes for staff and clients.
Relationships are key!

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influ-
ence this factor for inspiration:

• Make relationships a priority

• Encourage members to fill out a Preferred Leadership Profile

• Get to know your members (needs, values, goals, and strengths)

• Ask workers to express what a preferred relationship looks like
in practice

• Operationalize values of trust, respect, integrity, and empathy as
well as key organizational values (see Chapter 4 for steps to
operationalize values)

• Make efforts to stop in and say hi or goodbye to staff

• Make time for coffee or tea with staff

• Get to know what is important to your staff

• Schedule and keep uninterrupted time with members

• Take and make opportunities to do activities (individually or as
a team), like relationship and team building

• Try to be accessible and approachable

• Make regular check-ins on relationships and the quality of
supervision

• Do your best to be nonjudgmental

• Ensure you take what they say seriously and follow-up

• Try hard not to be quick to defend or dismiss member feedback/
input

• Ask staff about family or interests outside of work

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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161Chapter 6 Doing Quality Leadership

• Make quick check-ins with members (individually and in group
meetings) prior to business a priority

• Check out assumptions about members (“When in doubt, check
it out.”)

• Maintain confidentiality to the extent possible

• Do not ask workers to do what you haven’t already done your-
self or that you are not prepared to do

• Follow through on commitments

• Do what you say you will do (DWYSYWD)

• Ask staff what the best supervisor–member relationship
looks like

• Be willing to be flexible with process and time around identified
employee needs

• Encourage consistent unit meetings

• Encourage, promote, and attend staff social engagements

� VISION AND VALUES DOMAIN

Although vision and mission are often grouped together, they are not
the same thing. Vision is the value-driven dream of where a program
and/or organization hopes to go. It is meant to be global and inspiring.
Mission pertains more to “how are we going to get there.” Mission will
be discussed further in this chapter. Some people are much more con-
nected to the vision. These are those I refer to as the “values people.” I
am one of them. Like most values people, I am vision and value driven.
We are passionate!

When it comes to motivating members to perform, nothing is as
powerful as the cultivation and/or mobilization of passion. Passion usu-
ally arises from personal purpose, but more importantly, it originates
from what people feel is important—their values. Most people choose
social services because it is a profession that espouses or endorses
values (social justice, compassion, empowerment, self-determination)
that are in line with their own personal values. Organization and pro-
gram choices are also often based on a preference or match between
personal and organizational values. When members operate within
alignment of personal, professional, and organizational values, there is
rarely a lack of passion when the work is being carried out. Furthermore,

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE162

operationalization of values helps answer the questions, “Why do we
do what we do?” and, “Why do we do it in this way?” An impassioned
answer to the question “What’s important?” provides great impetus to
passion, motivation, focus, and meaning. It connects members to their
purpose—their passion.

Values also represent one of the most important cornerstones of the
employee’s story regarding what is most important. When workers
honor specific values and can maintain a connection to them in the
context of their work, they are more likely to be highly motivated and
engaged to perform optimally.

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influ-
ence this factor for inspiration:

• Make a connection to values a priority

• Complete a Preferred Leadership Profile with staff

• Ensure that vision is communicated and accessible to all members

• Ensure that program and organizational values are visible and
accessible to all members, especially where they congregate or
meet regularly

• Review steps to operationalizing values offered in Chapter 4

• Encourage staff to become familiar with the organizational/
program vision

• Ask workers to identify which values are most important
and why

• Get to know why a staff member has come to your program

• Ask member what part of their work they are most passionate
about and why

• Review the organizational vision and guiding values regularly

• Review guiding values at supervision or unit meetings

• Connect worker roles and responsibilities to vision and values

• Encourage member to connect personal and program values

• Encourage and model operation of key values

• Review with member how they apply values in their work
(daily, monthly, yearly)

• Make pocket-size guiding values check list

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
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163Chapter 6 Doing Quality Leadership

• Encourage staff to consistently consider, “Why do we do what
we do?”

• Encourage staff to articulate “why we do what we do in the way
that we do it”

• Take time to review and integrate at least one guiding value at
each staff meeting

• Take time to review and integrate at least one guiding value at
individual supervision sessions

• Develop a team/unit charter made up of important team and/
or program values to guide value-based decision-making and
work together

� MISSION AND GOALS DOMAIN

Mission and purpose-critical goals are foundational to organizational,
program, team, and individual purposes. Motivation, focus, and enthusi-
asm are actually by-products of goals. If you take away a goal that is
important to someone, you will take away those three key by-products.
Most people seek out or gravitate to a job because its organizational
objectives and mission are in line with their own mission and/or goals.
If staff can accomplish their own goals while carrying out the organiza-
tion or program mission, they will be connected to their purpose.
Mission and goals also answer the questions, “What’s the point?” and,
“Why are we doing what we are doing?” The answers to these questions
are something we all want to know, especially when work becomes dif-
ficult or challenging. Continuously connecting organizational and pro-
gram objectives to our members’ goals and their purposes is a great way
to promote motivation, enthusiasm, and cooperation at work.

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influ-
ence this factor for inspiration:

• Make a connection to the organizational/program mission and
purpose a priority

• Complete a Preferred Leadership Profile with staff

• Ensure that the program/organization mission has been com-
municated clearly

• Ensure that all staff have clear understanding of roles, responsi-
bilities, and expectations

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE164

• Ask member about his purpose and goals

• Make direct connections between worker goals and purpose-
critical program objectives

• Explore staff anticipations (what they want) for their clients

• Explore staff anticipations (what they want) for their team

• Review the program mission with members regularly

• Connect roles and responsibilities to mission

• Have staff review mission and vision at unit gatherings

• Match job tasks, if possible, with staff member goals

• Assist staff to answer “What’s the point?” and “Why do we do
what we do?” as they carry out work responsibilities

• Allow space for member goals to shift or change

• Explore personal and/or professional goals for worker
development

• Ensure regular check-in and support on developmental goals

• Conduct a “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) discussion

• Support opportunities to set and meet professional develop-
ment objectives

• Work to make professional development affirming, validating,
meaningful, and valuable

� APPRECIATIVE DOMAIN

A major cause of intent to leave and burnout, as reported by many
workers, is directly related to the lack of appreciation and/or recogni-
tion experienced in the field for the challenging and important work
employees carry out.

Validation and affirmation are essential elements for feeling
understood and accepted, which is an important aspect of the leader–
member relationship described throughout the book. There are many
challenging social service sectors, and it is not uncommon for members
to sometimes feel misunderstood, unsupported, or devalued. Often,
workers who are engaged in challenging jobs or experiencing stressful
or difficult times simply want people (especially their supervisors and

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
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165Chapter 6 Doing Quality Leadership

managers) to understand how hard the work is or how hard it can be.
Acknowledging these realities with a supportive response can be
exceptionally validating and affirming.

When members do not feel validated or affirmed in their experi-
ences, they can begin to become stuck and frustrated and, after a while,
feel devalued and even demoralized. Members need to be acknowl-
edged. They also need to be admired and appreciated for the important,
complex, and difficult work that they do—and not just for accomplish-
ments but for efforts as well. I have made reference to the three As of
acknowledgment, admiration, and appreciation earlier.

For some workers, the three As are exceptionally important and
can operate as a type of currency for the social, emotional, and spiritual
bank account. The three As can also function like gas in the tank. When
it runs out, worker motivation, engagement, and even cooperation can
run out also. I have a saying I use during my training: “I can’t afford to
give you a raise, but I can stick a P on it and give you praise. And when
I give you praise, I hope it lasts at least a couple of days.”

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influence
this factor for inspiration:

• Make the three As a priority with and for your staff

• Explore what the three As mean to staff and individual members

• Accommodate specific needs “to the extent possible” with
efforts at three As

• Make private and public member recognition a priority

• Ensure regular and positive contact with members

• Make and keep uninterrupted time with members

• Develop and support a process for appropriate and safe venting

• Listen, listen, listen

• Utilize paraphrasing and empathic responding regularly

• Utilize meaning-making questions to understand with and con-
nect to workers’ stories

• Take what members say in feedback seriously

• Make and follow through on commitments

• Ensure that there is a check-in and check-out at each meeting

• Always check in with members prior to business

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE166

• Remember that no news is not good news—it’s no news

• Try not to defend or dismiss what members are saying

• Attempt (to the extent possible) to match need for support with
the “right” support

• Be creative—create a process for staff recognition

• Encourage staff members to demonstrate the three As with each
other

• Say “Thank you!” more often

� PERSONAL AND/OR
PROFESSIONAL GROWTH DOMAIN

Social service workers want to do better for themselves and for the
people they serve. Therefore, professional development is essential in
order to work toward expected outcomes. In addition, many workers
are motivated and excited by opportunities for personal as well as pro-
fessional development. Consistent chances for individual capacity
building can provide a rich and meaningful source of motivation,
enthusiasm, focus, and cooperation for carrying out great work.
Furthermore, personal and professional goals are another way of
ensuring concrete and tangible progress in what I refer to as “a world
of intangibles.” It isn’t surprising that many people from the social
service industry fish, hunt, garden, or build something with their
hands outside of work. They are desperate to see an end product or
experience some type of accomplishment.

Personal and professional development frameworks, processes,
and supports provide staff with a plethora of opportunities to connect
to what is important to them while they carry out their work.

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influ-
ence this factor for inspiration:

• Make staff capacity building a priority

• Have staff complete a Preferred Leadership Profile

• Explore what personal development would look like for workers

• Explore what professional development would look like for
workers

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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167Chapter 6 Doing Quality Leadership

• Offer opportunities (formal, informal, training, mentoring, etc.)
for personal and professional capacity building

• Engage with members in a training-needs assessment

• Make professional performance development (PPD) meaning-
ful, realistic, achievable, concrete, time-driven, positive, and
supportive

• Offer opportunities for members to share PPD with other
members and the team

• Check-in on personal and professional goals regularly

• Offer incentives or rewards to staff for capacity development

• Implement peer-appraisal process regarding professional goal
development

• Implement self-appraisal process regarding professional goal
development

• Match workers with other team members with similar goals

• Offer worker opportunities to mentor or be mentored in identi-
fied areas for personal and/or professional development

• Match member roles and responsibilities with member goals for
development

• Role model by implementing consistent supervisor appraisals

• Role model by working on supervisory developmental goals

• Set a regular meeting with each staff member with the sole
purpose of engaging in the three As only

� FEEDBACK DOMAIN

Feedback is essential for knowing whether or not one is doing what
he or she is supposed to be doing. Most people want to know, “How
am I doing?” It is also critical for both personal and professional
capacity development, and it is the conduit that carries the appraising
information on behavior/performance. Feedback must also include a
developmental component of what and how behavior or perfor-
mance can be enhanced or developed further. Knowing how we
are doing and what we need to do to get better or be better to attain

de, G. S. (2015). Responsive leadership in social services : A practical approach for optimizing engagement and performance.
ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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PART II FROM CONCEPTS TO PRACTICE168

personal and professional objectives is helpful as a checkpoint and a
“where to next?” mechanism. Accurate and clear feedback is essential
for effective and efficient work.

In addition to this, positive feedback is motivating. When it is posi-
tive and constructive, feedback is even more valuable. Positive feedback
paves the way for the not so positive, if and when it exists. Furthermore,
very few things are more motivating for people who are striving to
make a positive difference than the message, “You are making a positive
difference. Here is how you can make more of a positive difference.”

Here are some things you may consider doing to positively influ-
ence this factor for inspiration:

• Make consistent feedback a priority

• Encourage staff to complete a Preferred Leadership Profile

• Ask workers to identify what feedback means and looks like in
practice for them

• Discuss preferences for structure and process for the most mean-
ingful and valuable feedback

• Ensure efforts are made at accurate, clear, specific, and meaning-
ful feedback

• Maintain a positive attitude

• Work at being approachable and accessible

• Listen more than talk

• Focus on worker strengths prior to negative or constructive
feedback

• When feedback is critical, focus on the behavior not the person

• Ensure that trust is built and maintained in all …

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