Motivation

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Administration in Social Work, 33:347–367, 2009 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0364-3107 print/1544-4376 online DOI: 10.1080/03643100902769160

Administration in Social Work, Vol. 33, No. 2, February 2009: pp. 0–0 1544-4376 0364-3107 WASW Work

Motivation and Leadership in Social Work Management: A Review of Theories and Related Studies ELIZABETH A. FISHER

E. A. Fisher Motivation and Leadership in Social Work Administration

Department of Social Work, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Social work managers are confronted with the responsibilities of leading employees and motivating them to succeed. Managers may yield better results when they couple their practice wisdom with a theoretical foundation. This conceptual paper may help social work administrators and educators by providing an overview of relevant theories of motivation and leadership and how they apply to social work. The theories that are introduced include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor or motivatorhygiene theory, McClelland’s trichotomy of needs, McGregor’s Theory X – Theory Y, Likert’s System 1 – System 4, Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid, Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership, and Atwater and Bass’s transformational leadership. KEYWORDS leadership, motivation, theory

Social work managers are often charged with motivating employees to perform well in their jobs. While management skills may suffice for task-related issues, motivation and organizational innovation requires leadership (Shin & McClomb, 1998; Pearlmutter, 1998). Some managers have learned to lead successfully based on their practice wisdom and personal experience, but as a group social work administrators may rely too heavily on these two facets. Classic studies of leadership have demonstrated that managers who conform to the tenets of one leadership theory or another, versus none at all, achieve more in their own eyes and those of their workers (Hall & Donnell, 1979). While this suggests that it is important for managers to know and

Address correspondence to Elizabeth A. Fisher, Department of Social Work, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA 17257, USA. E-mail: eafish@ship.edu 347

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E. A. Fisher

apply leadership theories, the topics are not often covered outside of social work classrooms or beyond textbook readings (Latting, 1991). Part of the reason for this may be that many leadership positions in social service agencies are held by professionals from other fields and therefore studied by academics in other fields. The call for attention to social work leadership has been echoing for several years (Wimpfheimer, 2004; Perlmutter, 2006). The goal of this paper is to apply and update classic theories of motivation and leadership to the social work field, using practical illustrations. While social work management textbooks present some of this information, the purpose is to introduce social workers to foundation theories, illustrate their application, and allow readers to consider the theory that will match their own style. Educators may find this article useful to students as an introduction to management theories before moving into more comprehensive readings and discussions or as an update of the empirical literature. The tables that follow the narrative offer a snapshot of how to apply these theories to practice. Motivational theories are first discussed and divided into two categories, content theories and process theories. Content theories are those related to specific motivating factors or needs. Process theories describe the interactions between needs, behaviors, and rewards (Lewis, Lewis, Packard, & Souflee, 2001). The three content theories described include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor or motivator-hygiene theory, and McClelland’s trichotomy of needs. Several leadership theories are then introduced, including McGregor’s Theory X – Theory Y, Likert’s system 1 –...
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