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Responsive Leadership in Social Services

Responsive Leadership in Social Services
A Practical Approach for Optimizing Engagement and Performance

  • Stephen de Groot - Myriad Consultation and Counseling and University of Manitoba
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May 2015 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Written for new and experienced social services managers and supervisors alike, Responsive Leadership in Social Services provides the practical tools, strategies, and insights to inspire, motivate, and engage employees and staff. Along with over 100 strategies and two simple tools—the Key Performance Motivators Scale (KPMS) and the Preferred Leadership Profile (PLP)—a wealth of practice wisdom, scholarship, and evidence-based research is presented to demonstrate the role of effective leadership and how it achieves positive client outcomes.

Learn more about Stephen de Groot!

About the Author
PART I. A Case for Responsive Leadership
Chapter 1. Embracing Social Service Realities: Impediments to Preferred Practice and Quality Supervision
Social Service Workers: A Motivated and Committed Resource  
Social Services: A Tough Work Environment  
The Loss of Great Helpers: Implications for Employee and Client Outcomes  
Supervision: A Possible Solution in a Crisis  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 2. Responsive Leadership: From Supervision to Inspiration
Leadership Defined  
Quality and Effective Leadership: Key Ingredients  
The Road to Responsive Leadership Approach  
The Building Blocks of a Responsive Leadership Approach  
The Guiding Priorities of Responsive Leadership  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
PART II. From Concepts to Practice: Responsive Leadership Strategies and Tools
Chapter 3. Perception Is Everything
Perceptions of Effective Supervision and Quality Leadership  
The Employee and the Employee’s Story  
The Preferred Leadership Profile: Purpose  
The Preferred Leadership Profile: Structure and Process  
Ensuring Success: The Dos and Don’ts of the PLP  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 4. Meaning Making: Practical Strategies for Understanding and Accessing the Employee Story
Discovery and the Employee Story  
Barriers to an Accurate Understanding of the Employee Story  
Well-Intentioned and Unfortunate Pitfalls: Two Very Different Case Situations  
The Importance of Relationships and Communication  
Getting to Better by Accessing the Employee Story  
Responsive Leadership: Priorities, Strategies, and Tools  
Responsive Communication and Relations-Oriented Discovery  
Discovery Responses and Discovery Questions  
Making Meaning of the Challenge for Valerie  
Important Comments on Meaning-Making Responses and Questions  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 5. A Strengths Focus and Quality Leadership
A Dire Need to Emphasize Strengths  
Challenges to a Strengths Focus in Supervision and Management  
A Problem Focus and Implications for Workers  
Using a Strengths Approach to Enhance Quality Leadership  
The Profound Implications of a Strengths Approach  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 6. Doing Quality Leadership: Practical Strategies for Inspiring
Relationship Domain  
Vision and Values Domain  
Mission and Goals Domain  
Appreciative Domain  
Personal and/or Professional Growth Domain  
Feedback Domain  
Strengths Domain  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 7. Understanding and Approaching Resistance and Opposition
What Are Resistance and Opposition?  
Types of Resistance and Opposition  
A Real Dilemma: Misunderstanding Employee Resistance and Opposition  
Common and Problematic Beliefs About Resistance and Opposition  
A Different Perspective: Resistance and Opposition as Information  
Proactive Approaches for Minimizing and Even Eliminating Opposition and Resistance  
Important Considerations for Supervisors to Avoid Resistance Altogether  
Similar Behaviors, Different Meaning  
Guiding Principles for Dealing Effectively With Resistance and Opposition  
Revisiting Situation 2 From Chapter 4: Getting James Back on the Floor  
Care-Fronting James: Approaching Resistance and Opposition, A Process Guide for Leaders  
Summary of Important Points  
Personal Leader Reflections and Considerations  
Chapter 8. Epilogue
Where to Go From Here? Final Leadership Reflections and Considerations  
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D


Instructor Resource Site

A Preferred Leadership Profile (PLP) and Key Performance Motivators Scale (KPMS) are available to those using this book. To access these tools, visit

“Responsive Leadership has enhanced our capacity more than any other approach undertaken. . . . De Groot’s approach has improved employee and client outcomes.”

John Colangeli , CEO, Lutherwood, Waterloo, Canada

“A useful yet practical approach any social service supervisor would find helpful.”

Gregg Allinson, Beaufort County Community College

“The author has articulated solid supervisory practices which are consistent with my view of the field of supervision in the human services. I also concur with his important contribution of providing students with hands-on tools that they can carry and use in the field.”

Denise K Sommers, University of Illinois Springfield

“De Groot presents an undercover point-of-view of the social service agency by providing students with perspectives and actions from a supervisor’s normal day in the trenches of organizational supervision.”

Juanita Johnson, Union Institute and University

“[D]e Groot’s commitment to the success and fulfillment of employees is apparent in his thoughtful and authentic approach to supervision . . . Through the application of practical and straightforward strategies based on communication and feedback strategies, [de Groot] offers a unique approach to supervision practice based on the ‘how’ of positive communication.”

Leslie W. O’Ryan, Western Illinois University - Quad Cities

By providing two models for leaders to explore, this detailed, practical book is solution-focussed in its approach. The case examples coach the individual, enabling them to rehearse scenarios and reflect on their own leadership.

Mr Dave Mason
Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University
July 12, 2016

Not aligned with course.

Mr Luis A. Perez
Social Work Social Sci Div, Roberts Wesleyan College
January 18, 2016
Key features


  • Addresses the need for staff development, motivation, and enthusiasm to inspire positive staff outcomes
  • A variety of case studies, anecdotes, and examples demonstrate each concept introduced
  • A process guide for decreasing employee opposition and resistance addresses one of the most challenging areas for all managers and supervisors
  • Summaries of Important Points and Leader Reflections at the end of every chapter allow readers to connect with their own experiences to enhance their leadership capacity and overall efficacy

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 2

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ISBN: 9781452291543

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