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A Critical Analysis Of Personal Leadership Style With Reference To Classical Theoretical Frameworks.

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A critical analysis of personal leadership style with reference to classical theoretical frameworks.

The aim of this study is to examine my personal leadership style, in the context of some of the major classical theoretical frameworks of leadership from within the wide body of literature available on this subject. I will aim to apply the analysis of these theories to my own leadership practice and style, and to identify areas where theory can improve my performance within the workplace. I will also look at data from a small scale study of my co workers' perceptions of my leadership, as well as information from self assessments of my leadership style.

I have been a manager now for nearly five years, initially as a first line supervisor in a large urban local authority Children's Social Care (CSC) department, and more recently, as a Service Manager for CSC in a large rural authority. As such, I have a good level of experience of leading and managing teams of social workers and team leaders. Prior to embarking on the Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Management, I had not studied leadership in any detail. My practice of leading and managing has as such been based on my own experience of being managed, my observation of other managers and leaders (both good and bad), my own 'instincts' as to what I think works, and on my own experience of success and failure as a leader and manager. As my career has progressed, and I have thought more about focusing on the quality and consistency of my leadership, I have wanted to understand leadership as an academic concept, with a view to improving my personal performance, the performance of my teams, and ultimately the service I provide to children, young people and families.

My interest in this subject is not only personal - it reflects a wider debate within the field of social care around how services for children can be managed more effectively, efficiently and safely, particularly in the context of high profile 'failures' to protect children. The Children Act 2004 (HM Government 2004) set out guidance for a new way of working to safeguard children more effectively. The adoption of a multi-agency approach to working with children is central to this guidance. Similarly, in the area of management of Children's Services, a multi-agency approach is viewed as central, as evidenced in the 'Championing Children' document (Department of Children, Schools and Families 2006), which is subtitled:

'A shared set of skills, knowledge and behaviours for those leading and managing integrated children's services'

In the foreword to this document, Beverly Hughes, then Minister of State for Children and Families, highlighted the significance of leadership in this new way of working.

"We will only be successful if our services have the right quality of leadership and management. We need leaders and managers who can build teams competent and confident in this new means of service delivery..." (DCSF 2006: 1)

The government social work task force, established following the death of Peter Connolly ('Baby P') in 2007 (Lord Laming 2009), highlighted the significance of leadership (or lack thereof) for social work as a profession.

"Social workers are unsure about where to look for leadership of their profession, and for representation in the policy debates that shape practice and conditions on the frontline" (DCSF 2009: 44)

Where it is identified that there are problems within any organisation, then leadership and management must be considered central to any attempt to effect change. In this assignment, I hope to make a small contribution to the body of work which sets out how this may happen, at an individual and organisational level.

I currently work as a Children's Service Manager (CSM). I and two other CSMs, oversee the operational management and provision of statutory children's social work services within the area. I manage two team leaders, who in turn each manage a team of approximately five qualified social workers and two unqualified social work assistants. The work undertaken by these teams is highly stressful and extremely pressured. Resources are limited and understaffing is a perennial issue. As such, in my role as an operational manager and leader, I am faced with daily challenges in terms of managing the work safely, whilst supporting, leading and developing my teams and staff.

Social workers and team leaders work within a tight statutory framework. The prime legislation governing the work is The Children Act 1989 (HM Government 1989), alongside other important documents, including Working Together 2006 (HM Government 2006), The Children Act 2004 (HM Government 2004), The Public Law Outline (Ministry of Justice, 2008).

Social workers also face the challenge of being subject of intense public scrutiny, following several high profile child deaths, most notably Victoria Climbie (Lord Laming 2003) and Baby Peter (Lord Laming 2009). The failings of social workers and other child care professionals from Haringey is not the subject of this piece, but they give some context to the climate of anxiety and scrutiny in which social workers practice at present, and this presents a leadership challenge to those managing social work services.

These high profile failures have also been one of the main driving forces for the current legislative and practice frameworks in which social care professionals currently practice. The 'Every Child Matters' Green Paper led to the Children Act 2004, which is significant in many ways but not least in its clear expression of the need for the provision of integrated services for children and closer working between those agencies responsible for children particularly around the issue of safeguarding.

The teams which I manage cover part a large rural county. The county is divided in to four areas, each managed by their own district council. Social work services, provided by the County Council, are provided by four areas co-terminus with the district council boundaries. The area covered by my teams is geographically large. Currently, there are over 33,000 young people aged 0 to 17 in the area. The indices of need show 26.7% of children are in deprivation in the area (Office for National Statistics 2009). There are approximately 50 children in the area who are subject to child protection plans, and approximately 110 children who are Looked After by the local authority.

The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) monitors the performance of local authorities via various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which



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