HS ORIGINAL RESEARCH
Leadership principles grounded in science
Human Systems leadership principles are based on our original, extensive scientific research, which spawned the HS Mindful Growth and Leadership Models and HS Mindfulness Model, as well as all the original Human Systems Tools (see “HS Tools” in the menu bar). These principles comprise the first leadership model that addresses organizational, relational, and individual behaviors. Research shows that adhering to these principles can improve organizational health, employee health, and client outcomes, as well as preventing burnout and excessive turnover.
The actions of the organization and its stakeholders reflect the following principles:
- Successful outcomes depend on the integration of diverse experiences perspectives and characteristics of every individual; reflects positive climate for diversity.
- Airing and processing comfortable and uncomfortable emotions related to work is acceptable and encouraged.
- Every individual and/or team is capable of determining the method and process for achieving successful outcomes.
- Work tasks and projects are accomplished with an outward focus on the mission, not an inward focus on avoiding crises or conflict.
- Emergent (informal) leadership is encouraged.
- Culture of collaboration, not compromise.
- Systems thinking orientation: understanding how change impacts employees, the organization, and stakeholders.
- Atmosphere of learning and problem-solving.
- Group-based belief system: values and culture focus on human relations, teamwork, and cohesion to inspire personal growth and vision among employees.
- Valuation, respect for, and belief in staff and their abilities (employee empowerment).
- De-emphasis on the use of political tactics to achieve goals.
- Every individual is unconditionally accepted as a whole.
- Well-being of employees is more important than any work task or project.
- Collective ownership of responsibility.
- Open discussion and questions underlying aspects and dialogues of organizational life that create frustration and anxiety are encouraged.
- Written mission of the organization, employees; perception of the mission, and the activities of the organization are aligned.
- Continuity of goals and methods of implementation across administrative changes.
- Transparency and clear communication around organizational processes and decision-making.
- Continual advocacy for social justice, organizational health, employee wellbeing, and positive client outcomes across time and contexts.
- Processes reflect understanding of organizational strengths and vulnerabilities.
- Collaboration across teams and departments.
- Collaboration and communication with outside individuals, groups, organizations, and disciplines.
- Expertise is widely distributed throughout the workforce.
- Sufficient resources are available to achieve goals.
- Provision of physically and psychologically safe working environment.
- Organization is embedded in the community.
- Clinical supervision is regularly provided for employees.
- Provides educational opportunities that promote employee and organizational growth.
- Policies allow employees to care for themselves and loved ones when necessary.
- Process for soliciting and incorporating client feedback is in place.
- Responsibility, accountability, and leadership are shared throughout the organization and with stakeholders and clients.
- Team works interdependently towards a common goal.
- Leaders’ behavior and actions vary according to context and individual.
- Timely and thorough resolution of conflict with emotional reflection.
- Resource sharing.
- Engage in honest and regular peer evaluation and clinical supervision.
- Engage assistance when needed (either inside or outside of the organization).
- Regularly communicate expectations and roles.
- Confidence in others’ leadership ability.
- Supports each other, emotionally, cognitively, and socially.
- Strong interpersonal relationships between employees/stakeholders and members of the community.
Focus on and practice for vision:
- Openly share knowledge and resources with others.
- Make changes that support collaborative and empowering practices.
- Honest and accountable for behaviors and decisions with one’s self and others.
- Give and solicit honest feedback.
- Have internalized moral perspective/value set to which they compare decisions and actions.
- Consistency between words and actions; trustworthy.
- Willing to take risks to achieve mission; takes initiative.
- Effective use of power.
- Consistent and regular participation in organizational activities.
- Takes ownership of work processes.
- Willingness and ability to spend sufficient time on leadership duties.
- Community responsibilities feels personal responsibility for collective well-being).
- Courageous, willing to “speak truth to power”.
- Has vision.
- Influences others through role modeling and inspiration.
- Open to new experiences and perspectives.
Accept other individuals as whole persons:
- Believe that every individual is fully capable, intelligent, and worthy of respect.
- Non-judgmental and do not assign blame.
- Assume a collaborative, not supervisory, role when possible.
- Have humility and willingness to step aside in order to allow others to fully participate.
- Engaged and responsive towards others.
- Knows others’ strengths.
Engages in regular self-care:
- Engages in analytical self-reflection on emotional patterns and behavior.
- Honestly express and process positive and negative emotions.
- Advocate for self and others.
- Take advantage of educational and growth opportunities.
- Comfortable with saying “I don’t know.”
- Has relevant experience and knowledge for the position.
Feelings and perceptions:
- Feels included in important decisions.
- Satisfied with job.
- Feels successful as a social worker.
- Stakeholders perceive organization as effective.
- Commitment to stay.
- Feels a sense of community within and outside of organization.
- Feels self-confident.
- Enthusiastic and optimistic.
- Understands organizational climate.
- Awareness of funding sources and impact on organizational functioning.
Dr. Peters' Publications
Peters, S. C., & Hopkins, K. (2014). Validation of the use of the Effort-Reward Imbalance Scale in human services using confirmatory factor analysis. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 5(4), 565-587.
Hopkins, K., Meyer, M., Shera, W., & Peters, S. C. (2014). Leadership challenges facing nonprofit human service organizations in a post-recession era. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 38(5), 419-422.