Competencies for Management and Leadership
University of Michigan's School of Social Work (U-M SSW) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation (COA), of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation is a system of recognizing educational programs as having a level of performance and quality that gain them the confidence of the educational community and the public. You can read more about the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards here.
At U-M SSW, each pathway has specialized competencies that describe the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that comprise the competency in each pathway area.
1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
Social workers demonstrate the ability to apply ethical social work principles and critical thinking to products and work produced. Social workers understand the role of emotional intelligence and professional resilience in professional and ethical practice. Social workers understand the role of other professionals when engaged in interprofessional teams within their areas of specialization. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and ways that supervision and consultation can support continued development.
- Utilize supervision and consultation to guide professional decision-making.
- Demonstrate emotional intelligence in practice and professional situations.
- Utilize effective communication strategies appropriate to context.
2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
Management and Leadership Pathway students work with and on behalf of people experiencing marginalization to change oppressive organizational practices, community conditions and social policies to promote social change. Social workers understand the ways in which oppression and inequity impact marginalized populations in social impact organizations and systems of care, communities and cities, and in social policies that affect them.
- Formulate inclusive engagement strategies based on an intersectional analysis of systems of power, privilege, and oppression both within and outside organizational, community, and policy contexts.
- Create a climate of inclusion that builds on the strengths of diverse stakeholders, integrates diverse points of view, and facilitates full engagement in ways that embrace the cultural and spiritual histories of people.
- Mediate tensions and conflicts that arise from managing cultural, political, and social differences between and within diverse groups.
3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
Social workers advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice within and outside their organizations. Social workers recognize historical legacies of oppression and discrimination and challenge policies and practices that tolerate or promote racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other discriminatory treatments of people based on identities. Social workers design and advance organizational and public policies informed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees all people the right to work, housing, healthcare, education, leisure, privacy, economic security, and a clean, safe, and sustainable organizational and social environment.
- Engage organizational and external stakeholders to design and promote programs and services that address human rights to access resources that ensure social, economic, and environmental equity
- Identify issues, develop strategies, evaluate outcomes, and promote human rights and social justice with affected internal and external constituencies
- Engage key stakeholders to advocate for access to resources, services, benefits, and opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized clients, constituencies, and communities.
4. Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
Social workers use a wide range of research methods to recognize how social, cultural, economic, political, historical, and organizational factors influence social workers’ practices and experiences of people experiencing marginalization and exclusion. Social workers use research findings to inform the development of policies and programs, to translate evidence to practice, and to critically evaluate current social work practice. Social workers understand how to identify and apply relevant evidence-informed practices and organizational theories that guide their engagement practices as social work managers and leaders.
- Engage in critical analysis and ongoing review of research findings, macro practice models, and practice wisdom to inform organizational, community, and policy practice.
- Identify, critically evaluate, and use data and scholarship to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs.
- Identify anticipated obstacles and opposition to conduct and disseminate research, including ethical, political, and economic dilemmas.
5. Engage in Policy Practice
Social workers understand how to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and/or environmental justice through the application of critical thinking skills. Social workers are able to identify how current events are linked to policy issues, how to critically analyze and understand policy implications, and apply strategies to engage in policy practice that effect change and advocate for clients.
- Identify how current events are linked to policy issues impacting clients and client systems.
- Analyze the implications of policy across service systems.
- Identify strategies to engage with policy to advocate for clients and client systems.
6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers identify concerns and preferences, develop plans, and address problems through engagement with diverse stakeholders. Students acknowledge the role of intersectional identity and diverse stakeholder groups, and the impact of this diversity in the development and implementation of organizational governance and strategy.
- Develop and implement multiple engagement strategies that reflect an understanding of structural, environmental, and power dynamics; policymakers’ characteristics and objectives; and the strengths, priorities, and interests of stakeholder groups.
- Demonstrate effective group facilitation and mediation skills to promote dialogue and collaborative processes.
- Develop their own leadership skills and those of constituent groups to initiate and facilitate dialogue that mobilizes and sustains action.
- Use multiple digital, written, and verbal communication skills to engage different constituencies, partners, and target audiences.
7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers use theories, frameworks, and evidence to understand practices and behaviors of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
- Assess and analyze assets, needs, benefits, gaps in services, rights, and the distribution of resources and power to implement equitable and inclusive macro interventions.
- Prepare reports that summarize and analyze collected data and frame options for intervention.
- Design and conduct assessments of the structure, composition, process, and environmental factors that affect organizational performance as well as community and policy practice activities.
8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers work to ensure that interventions combat systemic oppression and injustice that permeate our organizations and society and that often become institutionalized through social policies. Social workers use professional knowledge to apply evidence-informed interventions at individual, group, organizational, local, state, and national levels. They build power and capacity for positive social change by effectively managing human service organizations and delivery systems, and shaping organizational and social policies.
- Negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies and facilitate their participation in interventions at the interpersonal, organizational, community and societal levels.
- Initiate and facilitate interprofessional collaborations within and between organizational, community, and policy partners to achieve positive system change.
- Design and formulate informational materials, deliver persuasive arguments through multimedia communications.
9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers consider research and theories on organizational, community, and political processes in addressing the causes and consequences of social problems, inequality, and systematic oppression. Social workers ensure that evaluation findings are used to promote social, political, and economic justice, and sustainable and inclusive services, programs, and organizations. Social workers strive to include the perspectives, input, and participation of stakeholders and community members throughout the evaluation process.
- Integrate theoretical and conceptual frameworks into evaluation strategies that facilitate an understanding of community, organizational, and policy dynamics and outcomes
- Use and translate evaluation outcomes to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of organizations and communities and to advocate for policies and planned change efforts that advance social work values.