Leadership in social work: (and can it learn from clinical healthcare?)

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper

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This working paper seeks to add to debates about social work leadership within England. It begins by tracing out definitions, models and research evidence. It is noteworthy that much (but not all) of the social work leadership literature used in this paper originated from the United States of America, not the UK, raising questions about the significance given to leadership within the UK social work community and its researchers. The current context of social work in England is considered as the backdrop against which leadership must be realised. The core elements of leadership in social work are analogous to those in other professions (Sullivan 2016), and thus there are grounds to the argument that social work should not see itself as unique in terms of how leadership is conceptualised and enacted. This opens the door to learning from other sectors. Healthcare has recognised the potential benefits of leadership for many decades with active support from policy and practice. This paper concludes by highlighting the main areas for debate and setting out ways in which these could be positively addressed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Birmingham
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Social Work
  • Leadership
  • healthcare


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