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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

July 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

Useful additional text.

Miss Amy Allen
School of Health & Social Care, Nottingham Trent University
October 22, 2019

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

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 2

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452291543

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