This December we will explore the supervisor competencies associated with Organizational Leadership, which involves building and maintaining effective working relationships within a network of systems to support the needs of clients and staff. Michelle Seymore, Children and Family Services Program Manager with Hennepin County and community trainer for the Training Academy, has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on organizational leadership, how it benefits communities and families, and what supervisors need to be successful.

Organizational Leadership in the child welfare system supports practice focused on improving outcomes and recognizes workers must have support to empower families. The competencies require supervisors to be responsive to worker’s needs, flexible in approach, and aware of systemic barriers. Supervisors and managers play a unique role requiring the application of frameworks to decrease bias, while applying past experience to then advise current practice, and enforcing agency policies and procedures.

Workers who are proficient in the leadership framework competencies are supported to use bottom up decision making, messaging desired behaviors using positive terms, and cultural awareness with families. A work environment supportive of solution driven problem solving that utilizes theoretical frameworks aids in the development of fluid practices that share power with families. Workers look to supervisors and managers to support the implementation of innovative practices that are outside of the status quo.

Hennepin County continues efforts to transform our child welfare system and includes the use of theoretical frameworks based on data informed research. The Safe and Connected Model is informing decisions impacting families experiencing the system and allowing workers to staff with multi-disciplinary teams at decision points. This model supports the sharing of information, a team approach at decision points, and values community connection to the wellbeing of families. The Collaborative Safety approach to poor outcomes and critical incidents supports the learning through analysis of policy and procedures driving practice.

The Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework is a set of competencies that have been created to assist child welfare professionals in defining and demonstrating their knowledge, skills, and understanding across a number of different practice areas. Refer to page 20 of the Practice Framework to review all competencies related to Organizational Leadership, and consider ways to develop your own knowledge and skills.

If you have discovered other resources for developing competencies in organizational leadership, please share! Email us at, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.