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Self-leadership, integrity and personal effectiveness

Middle managers in social services lead and manage others most effectively when their practice is informed by a strong and explicit value base. They understand the importance of self-leadership and are committed to their own personal and professional development. They recognise that leadership requires work on oneself as well as engagement with others.

Middle managers therefore need to be able to:

  • demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of core values and professional ethics in social services
  • recognise and articulate their own personal and professional values and principles, understanding how these may differ from those of others
  • represent and promote core social work/social care values in interactions with people who use services, carers, staff and colleagues in other agencies
  • manage complex ethical and professional dilemmas including being prepared to take appropriate action if ethics and values are compromised
  • demonstrate a clear sense of their own professionalism and confidence to act with appropriate authority
  • demonstrate critical awareness of their own strengths and limitations and the impact of their behaviour on others
  • adapt to different people and situations while remaining authentic
  • take responsibility for their own emotions and prejudices and understand how these can affect their judgment and behaviour
  • commit to a work-life balance which supports their own health and wellbeing and reflects a positive workplace culture
  • critically reflect on their own leadership and management practice including actively seeking, analysing and acting on feedback from a range of sources
  • pursue opportunities for personal learning and development and take responsibility for their continuing professional development.

If you can demonstrate what you have learned from this area of the framework and how you have put your learning into practice, you will be able to earn an Open Badge. Find out more here.

Self-leadership, integrity and personal effectiveness resources

  • Self Assessment: ‘How Good are Your People Skills’ This tool is designed in an accessible ‘click button’ format. It asks a series of questions and then calculates your ‘people skills score’. You will need to login to Face Book or Mind Tools ( to save your answers but you can access Mind Tool’s responses that describe different aspects of working and communicating with others without having to log in.
  • Reflecting on Leadership: This link takes you directly to a document that discusses reflection on leadership. It refers to the SSSC’s Leadership Capabilities. It notes that the purpose of reflection on leadership is to gain a better understanding of ourselves (our values, knowledge and skills), so we can learn from our experiences, and adapt and respond to new leadership challenges. Linked to this theme, Reflective Questions 1 provides a template for self-completion encourages written reflection on when you show leadership, when you played an important part in changing something for the better, who you consider to be good leaders and your personal leadership style. It encourages completion of the Leadership Styles questionnaire; Reflective Questions 2 encourages reflection on why individuals would want to develop their leadership skills and the difference this would make to their work, what their organisation is looking for and how development could contribute to the organisation’s vision, what roles they would like to be undertaking in five years and what specific skills they would like to develop.
  • How to find out your style of leadership This questionnaire from the University of Kent will give you an idea of your typical leadership styles.
  • Leadership Capability Tool: This link requires login to the site and provides no further information unless the login is processed.
  • A Leadership capability workbook: provides guidance on how to interpret feedback from the Leadership Capability Tool, asks for reflections on initial reactions to feedback and encourages documentation of known and previously unknown strengths and areas for development in leadership, based on feedback received. It also provides a template for reflection against each of the Leadership Capabilities: vision, self-leadership, motivating and inspiring, empowering, collaborating and influencing and creativity and innovation.
  • Personal Capabilities: The Continuous Learning Framework for Social Services (CLF) provides a framework for everyone working in social services to reflect on their practice and develop their skills knowledge and approach along a continuum of ‘capabilities’. Middle managers will be able to identify their own desired level against each capability, depending on their organisational requirements, the demands of their role and their personal development aspirations.
  • Decision-making: A report on the IRISS website presents the results of a small qualitative study, undertaken between February and March 2011. The report considers the role of evidence in decision-making around risk in social work and factors that affect this process.
  • Challenging constructively: a resource at that discusses how to ‘navigate your organisation through treacherous waters without causing a mutiny’. This resource will be useful when you are starting to reflect on how to challenge the status quo constructively. From the University of Stirling research (2015), this is something that middle managers need to do regularly as they act as ‘translators’ between front-line practice and senior management. Sometimes, they need to provide evidence to challenge more senior managers when it is clear that policy and practice directives are not in the best interests of people who use services and their families and carers.
  • The SSSC Codes of Practice for Social Services Workers and Employers: These set out the standards social workers, social care, early years and young people’s workers and their employers should meet.
  • Personal skills development: A number of resources for personal skills development are hosted on Good Practice for leaders and managers . The website talks about how easy it can be to become immersed in strategic and operational aspects of the management role to the exclusion of devoting sufficient time to one’s own development. The link takes you to a section where you will be prompted to consider your personal skills and identify your development needs. Registration or an Athens username is needed – but if you work in Social Services and don’t already have one, you can request one from Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS).
  • Stress at Work: Stress is commonplace in our working lives today. Some stress is positive – it is motivating and provides challenge. But not all stress is positive stress. We sometimes feel negative levels of stress ourselves and at other times, we witness it in colleagues and team members. Middle managers may experience unique kinds of stress because they are expected to respond to demands from many directions – from senior management, teams and colleagues, partnership organisations, people who use services, families and carers. It is important, therefore, that they understand stress at work and manage their own work-life balance as well as support others to manage theirs. The UK Health and Safety Executive (a non-departmental government body (NDPB)) has links to various resources. Additional resources can be found on the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives.
  • The Power of Vulnerability: In this TED talk, Brené Brown, a research professor who studies human connection - our ability to empathize, belong, love - at the University of Houston, shares the insight from her research that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. This is billed as a poignant, funny talk lasting about 20 minutes.

Examples from Practice

What Others Say

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Gloria McLoughlin - Scottish Care

"I think we are going to have to work together, going forward in the current climate. It’s going to have to be about collaboration. And it’s going to be about setting old suspicions aside and working together going forward."

University of Stirling et al. (2010) Leading Together, Dundee, SSSC

Leadership Capability Indicators
Continuous Learning Framework (CLF)
Standards for Childhood Practice
learning log
Additional SSKS Resources

Other Resources You May Be Interested In

  • Reflective Practice:An IRISS resource that introduces learners to some of the principles and processes involved in becoming a reflective practitioner. To work interactively, the resource requires the latest version of Internet Explorer and the Macromedia Flash Player. However, a text based version of the resource is also available.
  • Reflecting on values and ethics:The British Association of Social workers (BASW) published a document in 2012 entitled ‘The code of Ethics for Social Work’. This is available as a PDF document here. A discussion about Social Work Values and Ethics is also available on the Scottish Government web site, found here.
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