Social Workers as Senior Executives: Does Academic Training Dictate Leadership Style?


  • Lauri Goldkind Fordham University
  • Manoj Pardasani Fordham University



Leadership style, executive director, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, social work administrator


The range and patterns of leadership styles in human service organizations are important for social work educators and their students to understand if social work administrators are to compete successfully in the marketplace for executive director and other top management roles. Using a sample of executive directors of human service organizations located in a state in the Northeast section of the U.S., the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used to explore their leadership style. The authors compare various elements of leadership style (charisma, inter-personal transactions, reactions to work issues, etc.) as well as perceptions of effectiveness and satisfaction with leadership style across academic backgrounds of executive directors. These results highlight the competencies required of successful leaders and can assist educators in identifying curricular gaps developing courses preparing social workers for leadership positions in the field. This study provides critical information on the core leadership skills and knowledge relevant for effective social work administration. Implications for social work training and education are discussed as well as possible avenues for curriculum revision.