Leadership in Social Work

Practice experience and national reviews have identified that good leadership makes a vital contribution to people, families and communities experiencing positive and enabling support that improves their life opportunities and wellbeing.

Whilst leadership is well understood in other fields and disciplines, there is though relatively little formal evidence as such regarding what ‘good look likes in’ in relation to leadership in social work and social care and how this differs from leadership in other professional groups and organisational settings. There is a similar lack of research regarding leadership development in social work and social care, and what are the most effective approaches to supporting leadership development throughout a social work and social care career.

This workstream therefore seeks to –

  • advance knowledge and theory on the enactment of leadership in social work and social care services
  • facilitate debate over the core concepts, challenges, and opportunities to good leadership in this professional and organisational context
  • provide tailored development opportunities for practice and senior leaders in social work across the UK and internationally.

UK based external collaborators include the Social Care Institute for Excellence, British Association of Social Work, Research in Practice, Associations of Directors of Adult Social Services / Childrens Services, Skills for Care, and Principal Social Worker and Lead Occupational Therapy Networks.

International collaborators include the University of Melbourne (Australia), McMaster University (Canada), New York University Silver School of Social Work (USA), and the European Social Network.

Current programme opportunities include:

Recent collaboration

Diversity, Equality & Social Work Leadership Webinar 

Social work is a human rights-based profession in which social justice, collective responsibility and respect for diversity are at its heart. However, leadership in social work does not yet reflect the diversities of our society with continuing barriers for women and practitioners from Black and minority ethnic communities. The University organised a webinar in May 2023 to consider these issues in partnership with the British Association of Social Workers, and McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada building on existing developments and collaboration on how to understand, strengthen, and promote the unique contribution of social work leadership.

Leadership and Social Work in the UK: Valuing its Potential

In Autumn 2022, the University of Birmingham and BASW jointly organised a roundtable event to discuss and share insights on social work practice and policy with academic leaders from across the UK, to discuss opportunities and challenges of social work leadership. The webinar was facilitated by Dr Robin Miller (Professor of Collaborative Learning) with commentary by Dr Makhan Shergill, both of University of Birmingham.

Dr Miller, in conjunction with Dr Luke Geoghegan, Head of Policy and Research, BASW, wrote a supplementary blog article in December 2022, entitled Strengthening leadership in social work: the importance of the four ‘C’s.

Learning from leaders: What does good leadership look like in social care and how it can be implemented into practice?

Professor Paul Burstow, chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, Department for Health and Social Care
Dr Jason Schaub, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Birmingham

Strengths based approaches in adult social care

Presented by Professor Robin Miller from the University of Birmingham and Paula Thompson-Butler from SCIE.
Presented by Professor Robin Miller from the University of Birmingham


Lead staff

Professor Anne-Marie Glover

Professor Anne-Marie Glover

Professor of Social Work
Deputy Director of Education for the College of Social Sciences

Anne-Marie is the Deputy Director of Education for the College of Social Sciences, and Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work and Social Care. She is a qualified and registered Social Worker, with a background in statutory Children & Family and Youth Justice social work practice. Anne-Marie’s areas of practice interest include leadership, children and family social ...

+44(0)121 415 8032

Simon Haworth


Simon Haworth recently joined the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer within the Department of Social Work and Social Care. He is involved in teaching on undergraduate, postgraduate and post qualifying programmes and currently undertaking a variety of projects for the West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership.

Prior to this appointment, Simon worked within the field of child protection ...

+44 (0)121 414 2935

Professor Robin Miller

Professor Robin Miller

Professor of Collaborative Learning in Health & Social Care
UK Demonstrator Lead for the IMPACT Centre

Professor Robin Miller is an applied academic with an international reputation in relation to integration and leadership in health and social care. He is the Co-Editor in Chief of the international journal of integrated careand has researched widely the implementation of transformational programmes in primary health and social care. Robin has been P-I or Co-I to over £17 million of ...


Kelly Tighe


Kelly is a Lecturer and registered Social Worker specialising in work with children, young people and families. She teaches on Pre-Qualifying and Post Graduate Social Work programmes within the School of Social Policy, leads the Department for Social Work and Social Care’s Student Staff Forum, is a member of the Welfare, Inclusion and Social Engagement Committee and Anti-Racist ...

+44 (0)121 414 2284


Strengths Based Working: a challenge to Social Work? 

Social work has aspired to demonstrate a strengths based approach in its practice since the publication in the early 1990’s of the seminal text by Dennis Saleebey at the University of Kansas. Its principles are widely accepted within the profession and reflected in contemporary social work models, good practice guidance, and recent legislation. In this seminar hosted by UoB, Alex Fox and colleagues from Shared Lives Plus reflected on their understanding of strength based practice and what changes are required to make it the common experience of people who access social work and social care.

Alex Fox, OBE, shares the strengths-based principles behind Shared Lives Plus, one of the most innovative social care provider networks in the UK.
Heather Thomson and Tom Milnes in conversation with Anna McEwen about their lived experience of social work.
Alex Fox considers how the current social care system could be transformed to become strength based.

In June 2019, the University of Birmingham, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership hosted an event which invited speakers and social work professionals to come together to consider the question 'What does good leadership look like in social work?'

The event was one strand of a larger leadership in social work project incorporating empirical research and evaluations, as well as the development of new CPD and qualification programmes focused on leadership in social work.Please follow the links below to listen to presentations on the day, as well as hearing from key note speakers about what good leadership looks like in social work:

Dr. Ossie Stuart, Trustee at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) - 'Equality and Diversity in Social Work’ 

Dr Ossie Stuart discusses equality and Diversity in Social Work

Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, Department of Health and Social Care – ‘Leadership in Adult Social Work’ 

Lyn Romeo discusses leadership in Adult Social Work

Sean Holland, Chief Social Work Officer/Deputy Secretary, Social Services Policy Group - ‘Social Work Leadership in Northern Ireland’

Sean Holland discusses social Work Leadership in Northern Ireland

Jason Schaub, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Birmingham - ‘What is missing from our definition of Social Work Leadership’ 


Jason Schaub discusses the question, 'what is missing from our definition of social work leadership'

Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive, British Association of Social Workers - ‘Excellence in Social Work Leadership’  

Dr Ruth Allen discusses the 'Excellence in Social Work Leadership' programme

Caroline Pipe, Social Worker and Systemic Psychotherapist - ‘Centre for Systemic Social Work’ 

Caroline Pipe discusses the Centre for Systemic Social Work

Belinda Weir, Director of Leadership, Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham - ‘Systems Leadership'

Belinda Weir discusses systems leadership

Tanya Moore, Principal Social Worker, Hertfordshire Adult Care Services - ‘Connected Lives and Complexity’

Tanya Moore discusses good practice being done in adult social work at Hertfordshire County Council

Jenny Pitts, Community Led Support Programme Lead - ‘Leadership and Community Led Support’

Jenny Pitt discusses leadership and community led support in social work