Qualities and practices of professional social work leadership in an interdisciplinary mental health service : an action learning approach
McNabb, David; Webster, Michael
Citation:McNabb, D., & Webster, M. (2010). Qualities and practices of professional social work leadership in an interdisciplinary mental health service: An action learning approach. Action Learning: Research and Practice, 7(1), 41-57. doi: 10.1080/14767330903576846
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1720
Since the mid-1980s, health service restructuring in New Zealand has strengthened managerialism, arguably detracting from professional considerations. Professional leaders without line-management responsibilities have replaced social work departments headed by a professional social worker. An emerging social work contribution to interdisciplinary leadership in mental health settings aims to advance quality of service and fill social work leadership gaps resulting from structural changes created by health policy initiatives. In the context of limited research into these changes, this paper presents an action learning organic approach examining how social work professional leaders implemented Kouzes’ and Posner’s ‘exemplary leadership’ in a District Health Board. This examination integrates indigenous Māori approaches to leadership with Western models. Findings suggest both caution and optimism about the professional leader role. The paper suggests further research to explore the relationship of professional leadership and clinical governance in public health services.