In recent years there has been a growing interest in ethical styles of leadership, particularly in light of the recognition that ethical behavior not only confers value on an organization, it tends to distinguish one organization from another that may be less ethical in its behavior (Mayer, Bardes, & Piccolo, 2008). In the field of social work, ethical norms and values are of special significance in that they shape the relationship between therapists and clients and other stakeholder groups. Like other caregivers, social workers have direct and identifiable obligations to their clients, including the obligation to treat patient information confidentially, to respect the rights and privacy of the client, to avoid conflicts of interest, to be culturally aware and sensitive, and to at all times behave in a manner that promotes the health and well-being of the client (Sherr, Singletary, & Rogers, 2009). Indeed, one of the key requirements for success in social work is a strong ethical orientation toward doing no harm.
Because of this, one of the more appealing leadership theories being considered within the social work field is servant leadership. Servant leadership, initially proposed by former AT&T executive Robert Greenleaf, is based on the philosophy that a leader's first responsibility is to make sure that others' needs are being served (Mayer, et al, 2008). This report, written by a social worker with the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (LADCFS), focuses on the intersection between servant leadership, ethical conflicts, and social work practice and performance. Drawing upon various texts and journal articles, the report will demonstrate that by using the ideology of the servant leader in social work practice, one can resolve or avoid ethical conflicts and facilitate service delivery.
Servant Leadership and Ethics in leadership
In their analysis of leadership, Kouzes and Posner (2007) emp...