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Strategic vision and direction

Middle managers in social services act as the key lynchpin between those responsible for strategic vision and direction and those engaged in direct services and support. They contribute in-depth knowledge of frontline practice ensuring that this informs organisational strategy and policy. They develop systems and procedures to enable strategic decisions to be implemented effectively at an operational level. They look outward to the wider external context and inward to the organisation’s internal reality.

Middle managers therefore need to be able to:

  • contribute to the development of organisational vision and direction which reflects shared values, purpose and aspiration
  • ensure that the views and concerns of staff and people using services are represented and reflected within their organisation’s strategic vision
  • represent and communicate that vision to others
  • motivate and inspire others in support of the vision
  • maintain broad awareness and understanding of the social, political and economic and professional context of social services
  • critically analyse and evaluate current and emerging developments in the local and national context relevant to the delivery of social work and social care services
  • evaluate the impact of their organisation’s strategic plans and policies, and provide constructive feedback to influence the direction of the service/organisation
  • contribute to and oversee the development of operational systems, procedures, practices and policies which support organisational strategy and direction.

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.

Strategic vision and direction resources

  • The Best Value Toolkits is a series of eighteen diagnostic reports aimed at helping public bodies to assess how well they are designed to achieve, Best Value. They cover such topics as Asset Management, Community Engagement, Financial Management Performance Management, Planning and Resource Alignment, Vision and Strategic Direction, Risk Management, Procurement, Partnership Working and Community Leadership, Sustainability and Equalities.
  • Imagining the Future of Support and Social Services in 2025 (December 2014) This links to a tool to get those who access it discussing, arguing and debating the future of social services. The tool is provocative but also useful to guide difficult conversations around, for example, the role of professionals in 21st century, citizen rights and responsibilities, leadership and workforce planning. The link accesses written materials and video material.
  • Social Work Services Strategic Forum: Provides information about the work taking place at the highest level to develop a shared vision for social services in Scotland.
  • Planning, Vision and Mission: Aimed at the not for profit sector, this site talks through how to think through issues such as deciding on your vision and mission and developing a business plan.

    Similar discussions are presented on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation’s web site.
  • Strategic Management and Planning: This OU study unit looks at the strategic view of performance. Strategy is discussed as an activity that can include middle managers. Three different approaches to strategy are examined. This material is based on a previously offered OU course. It has been replaced by others. Learning outcomes are identified.
  • Vision and Business Planning – Audit: SCIE publishes resources on business planning which also talk about creating a vision. They suggest that developing a business strategy and plan is essential for long-term survival and growth and that developing a vision, based on shared values and a philosophy of care, is the starting point. Developing clear objectives as part of the planning process enables staff to work towards common goals both as individuals and as part of a team. SCIE presents an audit tool to help you assess and improve your strategy and planning. This is in the form of eight questions that users can assess themselves against.
  • Leadership and Strategy A number of resources for Leadership and Strategy are hosted on Good Practice for leaders and managers aimed at improving leaders’ strategic capabilities. 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).
  • Corporate peer challenge – independent evaluation report Evaluation of the effectiveness and impacts of the first forty Corporate Peer Challenge initiatives in Councils. Although not directly relevant to Scottish Social Service middle managers, the concept of peer support and challenge is a useful one.
  • Working with Dilemmas OU study unit dealing with dilemmas in organisational life and how to address them effectively.

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

  • Imagining the Future: Enabling Technology (Doughty, K December 2013), reviews the impact of technologies and trends and offers six case studies to suggest how outcomes might be different depending on the kinds of technology and communication that are available.
  • Introducing a Framework for Strategy: OU study unit intended to give an understanding of the nature and uses of frameworks of strategy to help an organisation be more effective.
  • Leadership Exchanges (part of Workforce Scotland) introduces (with videos) the Leadership Exchange Programme which pairs up leaders across sectors with the aim of improving leadership capacity between peers.
  • Making decisions OU study unit dealing with the processes involved in decision making, including the psychology of decision making and the social context in which decisions are made.
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