What Would A Social Worker Know About Helping A Business?
Updated: Sep 6
When we tell people we are clinical social workers who also do business consulting, we are often met with a confused look. What a strange combination, they wonder. How on earth could a social worker advise me with my business?
Usually this stems from a lack of knowledge about the social work profession.
Contrary to the misinformed stereotype, social workers are not just people who pass out welfare checks or take children out of abusive homes.
State Department Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, for example, is credited with successfully mediating a missile agreement with North Korea and the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015.
And guess what?
She’s a social worker.
She writes, “As I grew into my new life as a diplomat, negotiating a missile deal with North Korea and ultimately serving as the first woman undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, I couldn’t have survived on lessons from business books or political science classes. To tell the truth, my best guide was a core set of skills from a master’s in social work in community organizing that I had put to work at each turn in my life.”
What are the core skills that social workers bring to their work? There are many, actually, but here is an overview.
Social workers are trained in systems thinking. Originating from biology, physics, and mathematics, this theoretical base helps us analyze the interactions between the individual and the environment. We are experts at seeing how different parts of an environment influence each other and the individuals within those settings.
Social workers understand the numerous variables that influence human decisions and why people behave the way they do.This lens guides us in determining what changes, both within the environment and the individual, are needed to assure goodness-of-fit and success for all parties.
Social workers understand the importance of relationships. Human beings are social animals which means that relationships are the building blocks for personal, group, and community well-being. Be it between family members, bosses and employees, co-workers, or customers and providers, the experience people have in these interactions influences how they engage and collaborate with each other.
Social workers understand groups and organizations. When asked about how she builds successful teams, Sherman writes, “They don’t recognize that my training is in social work, studying the psychology of groups, and that how a team works together is as important to me as who is on it… I often say that I have always been a social worker, even as my caseload changed from children to politics to diplomacy.”
Wrap all of this up in a strong commitment to integrity, the dignity of every person, competent practice, and excellent people skills and you’ve got a winning formula for leading individuals, groups, and as Sherman proves, even countries to success.
Curious about how G2 Solutions can help you lead your company to success? Contact us for a free, no pressure consultation.