Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Dec/Jan 2009Vol. 9, No. 10Leadership Impacts Job Satisfaction Among Social Workers

A new study in the journal Administration in Social Work found that social workers' perceptions of leader behavior significantly affected job satisfaction. A national sample of 833 practicing social workers rated their supervisors on measures of expected and actual leadership behavior and also rated their own job satisfaction. A larger difference between social workers' expectations and perceptions of their supervisor's leadership behaviors was associated with greater job dissatisfaction. Respondents gave the lowest job satisfaction ratings in the following areas:

  • Opportunities for promotion
  • Amount of funding for programs
  • Quality of supervision received
  • Leadership behavior of supervisor
  • Supervisor's recognition of work

The study's authors note that many workers in social service agencies are placed in leadership roles with little formal preparation, which can result in greater dissatisfaction for both supervisors and their employees. To increase levels of satisfaction in this area, agencies should focus on improving leadership development through job training and other learning opportunities, as well as partnering with schools of social work to offer more leadership courses. Agencies may also consider adopting a total quality management approach, which requires leaders to engage their employees in quality improvement efforts and emphasizes issues such as customer satisfaction, team building, organizational communication, and staff training.

"Organizational Leadership and Its Impact on Social Workers' Job Satisfaction: A National Study," by Kathy Elpers and David J. Westhuis, was published in Administration in Social Work, Vol. 32(3) and is available online: