SWSP6093 Leadership for the Profession

Level: Master
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: MSW(Q): SWSP6003 and SWSP6013; MSW: No prerequisites
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: MSW(Q): Elective, MSW: Core

Unit Description

Good leadership is not easily defined (Bass et al., 2005; Yukl et al., 2002). This unit of study will explore the moral, intellectual and practice foundations of effective leadership in human services. Questions that will be explored include: how can leadership contribute to critical social work? Do we need an alternative leadership paradigm to point the way towards building more self-managing and sustainable organisations, services and communities? How does management overlap with leadership? Can good leadership co-exist at multiple levels of power, status and role? How can leadership be facilitated between organisations and societies? Given social workers are predominantly women, issues of gender are of central importance, as well as race and culture as critical determinants of leadership. The unit will focus on new ways of conceptualising and practicing stewardship and sustainability as leading edge, effective leadership.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week. This includes timetabled class time and private study time.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse theories of leadership for the human services.
  2. Reflect upon the components of successful leadership and its distinguishing features.
  3. Contrast leadership theories with selected leaders’ experiences and identify and analyse the differences.
  4. Explore where leadership opportunities and responsibilities exist within the workplace.
  5. Explore non-traditional notions of leadership through research, advocacy and community action.
  6. Identify leadership goals, plans and career development.

Learning and Teaching Approach

  1. Learning is an active process – which involves both questioning and challenging.
  2. Learning is a shared process – where others’ thoughts and ideas are presented, critically analysed, exchanged and respected.
  3. Learning is a collaborative and empowering process for self and others.
  4. Learning is thoughtful and reflective.
  5. Learning requires integration with prior knowledge and other arenas of knowledge development in the program.
  6. Preparation for lectures and seminars and reading the recommended texts and references is essential.

The content of this unit has been designed to maximise both online and face-to-face learning to integrate the subject matter.

Students are expected to:

  • Complete all activities
  • Complete readings
  • Complete all assessments
  • Attend all classes

It is also recommended that students:

  • Keep a record of new terminology that is introduced in this unit
  • Keep a copy of assessments and other correspondence
  • Make notes on unit content and readings

There will be learning activities linked to all lecture materials which are designed to encourage students to deliberate and reflect and to provide opportunities for further learning. The activities are designed to help students think through and practise the specific skills and general concepts presented in this unit as well as provide valuable learning opportunities.


Recommended Text

  • Hafford-Letchfield, T., Lambley, S., Spolander, G., & Cocker, C. (2014). Inclusive leadership in social work and social care. Bristol, England: Policy Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Bass, B., & Riggio, R. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Boske, C., & Diem, S. (Eds.) (2012). Global leadership for social justice: Taking it from the field to practice. Bingley, England: Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Breshears, E., & Volker, R. D. (2012). Facilitative leadership in social work practice. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
  • DuBrin, A. (2013). Leadership: Research, findings, practice, and skills (7th ed.). Mason, OH: SouthWestern
  • Elliott, C., & Stead, V. (2009). Women’s leadership. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Hafford-Letchfield, T., Leonard, K., Begum, N., & Chick, N. (2008). Leadership and management in social care. London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Hafford-Letchfield, T. & Bourn. D. (2011). ‘How am I doing?’ Advancing management skills through the use of a multi-source feedback tool to enhance work-based learning on a post-qualifying postgraduate leadership and management programme’, Social Work Education, vol 30, no. 5, pp.497- 511.
  • Hughes, M., & Wearing, M. (2013). Organisations and Management in Social Work. Second Edition. London: SAGE.
  • Jasper, M., & Mansour J. (2008). Effective Healthcare Leadership. London, England: Blackwell.
  • Lau Chin, J., Lott, B., Rice, J. K., & Sanchez-Hucles, J. (Eds.) (2007). Women and leadership: Transforming visions and diverse voices. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Lawler, J., & Bilson, A. (2010). Social work management and leadership: managing complexity with creativity. Abingdon, England: Routledge.
  • Manning, S. (2003). Ethical leadership in human services. Boston: Allyn & Bacon
  • Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • O’Connor, K. (2010). Gender and women’s leadership: A reference handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Rosenberg, G., & Weissman, A. (2013). Social work leadership in healthcare: Director’s perspective. New York, NY: Routledge


  • ADVANCES: Journal of Social Work and Welfare Education
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Australian Social Work
  • Critical Social Work
  • Journal of Social Work (UK)
  • Journal of Social Work Education (USA)

Academic Misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to http://currentstudents.acap.edu.au/assets/Managing-My-Course/A-Z-Policies/Academic-Misconduct-Policy.pdf for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the trimester. For a list of required textbooks for the upcoming trimester, please click here.