Why leadership matters

In the United States, social workers have a strong history of advocacy and for working for social justice. Many of the earliest social workers fought for human rights, women’s rights, and civil rights, and to relieve poverty and suffering. These remain challenges today, and the social work profession continues its efforts. That’s why this social work month’s theme of the National Association of Social Workers — Social Workers: Leaders, Advocates, Champions — seems so fitting. We champion causes of those who are disadvantaged and marginalized, and we advocate for fairness and equity. Your Romanian theme which acknowledges the importance of social work in promoting better communities and a better world, fits well with our US theme.

Social work leaders can be found in our social programs, our agencies, our communities, and in national service. They work in schools, hospitals, refugee settlements, prisons, child protective services, homeless shelters, and private practice. They are college professors, administrators, researchers, and community organizers. They serve in our military and in our government. Several of our national Senators and Representatives in Congress are social workers. An edited book I did with a colleague, Social Work Matters: The Power of Linking Policy and Practice, gives many examples of the areas in which social workers practice.

One of the lessons learned from early macro social work practice is that it is often necessary to have social workers both within and outside of an agency or institution in order to bring about needed change. We also know that many social workers are leaders, but do not have the title of „leader.” That does not make them less dedicated or effective. We are simply excellent advocates. We see a „wrong” and we move to „right” it.


You asked another question about social workers reporting to a manager who is not a social worker. I agree that can be a difficult situation, and it may require us to be even better, more  committed advocates because the manager may not understand our profession or our mission. However, as social workers, we never give up and we never give in.

For 13 years, I had the great privilege of leading the National Association of Social Workers in the USA. During those years I was inspired every day by the incredible work of our 850,000 social workers. They are truly leaders, champions, and advocates, and I am proud to be a part of such a profession. Congratulations on your blogsite and Happy Social Work Month to you and your colleagues.

Elizabeth Clark, PhD, MSW is the former CEO National Association of Social Workers–USA and President of the Start Smart Career Center. She is the author of Always Choose Hope –  https://youtu.beWQU4ebIDX2M)  and she will be delighted to have you follow their new twitter site @alwayschoosehope. If you want to find out why Mentoring Matters go on their website –  http://startsmartcareercenter.org/  and access the free e-book with the same title.