Leadership: Guest post drownthenoise.com

Leadership. 

For an extremely long time now people have understood the importance of having good leaders.  This is emphasized by the amount leadership summits and courses that are regularly held around the globe.  Furthermore, there are probably thousands (perhaps even more?) of books on some aspect of leadership published each year.  Not even to mention the various TED talks on this topic!  “Leadership” has become a cultural buzzword and no-one wants to be left behind.  And not being slouches, we as youth workers will not to be left behind either!  (As one we scream and throw our fists in the air!  Yeah, yeah I know I’m getting a bit carried away, but seriously, can you imagine a bunch of youth workers going all “Braveheart”?)
Now, I don’t know about you but I am crazy about sports.  It is especially in sports that the role of the captain, the leader, comes under close scrutiny from coaches, peers and fans alike.  Venturing an uninformed guess I’d say that there is a correlation between a team’s performance and their captain’s performance in a given game and/or season.  If the captain’s performance is above par, most times the team tends to be successful.  On the flipside, if the team falters in their performance, the captain will be one of the first to be held accountable.  Keeping this in mind, in this post I’ll be sharing some basic thoughts that you as captain and team-leader might find helpful on your way to a “winning and successful season”.
1.  Teamwork and diversity
The importance of teamwork has been discussed thousands and thousands of times.  However, what sometimes remains lacking is a focus on diversity within the team.  The team leader cannot do everything, nor can everyone in the team think the same way.  The team needs to be made up of people with diverse leadership approaches and skills.  For instance, my leadership role is that of ‘thinker’.  But as thinker I cannot only be surrounded by thinkers.  That way nothing ever is going to get done.  So for example I need to look for a few ‘doers’ – people who play in different positions.  Furthermore, I need to know when to pass the ball to my team members, those leaders on the team who are in a better position to deal with certain situations. 
2.  Lead from the front, encourage from the back
The captain needs to lead from the front.  Every team has a particular strategy, a game-plan, which they want to follow and the captain has to set the example.  He (or she) needs to model the strategy.  But this is more than merely showing the way, it’s about encouraging others to follow the path.  It’s about the embodiment of your organisation’s code of ethics, but it is also about carefully mentoring the less experienced leaders in your team to do the same.  You are a leader of leaders, who has to make even more leaders.  This feat won’t come easy and in the process you might want to consider reading up a bit on coaching and emotional intelligence.
Finally, to be the best, the captain has to stay a little longer at the fields and work a little harder.  All for the sake of his/her team.  You know your team.  You know your organisation.  And you know what it will take to get the job done.  Read more books, speak to different kinds of people, and even enrol for extra courses if you have to.  It seems to me that the importance of continued education and learning is underrated in the field of youth work.  Furthermore, see to it that you have a good support system in place.  I’d hate to see you burn yourself out in the process.  We all work hard, but there’s a fundamental difference between giving your all, and being reckless.  Take care of yourself.  The captain also looks well after his/her own well-being.

 

 

 

 

Most of all have fun, keep it simple and give every “game” your best.  So captain, what do you think?
Neels Redelinghuys
 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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8 tips for amazing youth work external supervision.

External supervision

Two years ago when Ultimate Youth Worker began we started as a small external supervision service for youth workers. We started this because we saw the lack of supervision given to our friends and colleagues as well as the lack of qualified youth workers providing external supervision. We wanted to see youth workers supported by youth workers to develop their youth work practice. Over the past two years we have supported dozens of youth workers to do just that. However, we still hear of people offering supervision to youth workers which cause more trouble than support.

These well meaning people, often social workers and psychologists, do not understand the intricacies of youth work theory and practice. They begin to make their supervisees more like them.   Youth workers deserve better. We deserve supervisors who understand youth work theory and practice and how they interweave. We deserve the best possible support to do the work we do.  

So what should we look for when choosing an external supervisor. Here are a few thoughts we have on the expectations of a good youth work supervisor:

  1. They must have a youth work background. It should not come as a surprise but many other professions do not work with young people. There are also issues which youth workers face which are not covered by other professions. I have heard of social workers, psychologists, OT’s and nurses supervising youth workers when they have never worked with young people. A great external supervisor will have extensive youth work experience… at least five years direct practice is a minimum.
  2. They must be qualified. They must hold a qualification in youth work. Minimum of a diploma level however we recommend the degree. They must also have some qualification in supervision. The minimum standard should be one of the five day courses available by many professional associations.
  3. They must have an articulated best practice framework of supervision. If they cannot articulate the framework they use and why then do not hire them. They must address how they will work with you and the areas they will cover with you.
  4. They must have a track record of other clients. If it is the first time they have supervised people you don’t want to pay to be a guinea pig. If they are genuine they will have a record of staff they have supervised.
  5. They must be a member of a professional body. Whether it is a youth work professional association, a peak body or another professional body. You want to know that they are being kept accountable for the work they are doing within the youth sector.
  6. They must be accessing supervision themselves. Good supervisors have to talk things through too. They need to make sure they are supervising well and ethically. They need to unload the traumas they hear as much as their supervisees.
  7. They must hold professional indemnity insurance. While you should never need it, if you get advice and you use it and something goes wrong you need to be aware that they are insured.
  8. They must be a fit and a challenge. This one takes time and why we recommend a review after the first few sessions. They must fit you personally. Your personality and where you want to be going. And, they must be able to challenge you. to help you step outside yourself and try more.

If you ask your potential external supervisor these questions then you will be assured to have a great supervisor to help you trek through the ups and downs of youth work. If you want a supervisor who ticks all these boxes contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Apply for supervision today

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Funding cuts to youth related programs

Funding cuts

In a funding coup which has not hit the youth sector like this before three national governments have combined to cut youth work funding programs across the board. In what has been seen by some in the sector as governments colluding in a neoliberal sting projects including education, homelessness and mental health are being hit In Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom by significant funding cuts.
 
In Australia the Abbott government today announced that all federal government funding for youth projects would end by June 2014. The hardest hit by this is the Australian Youth Affairs Council which has yet to receive any funding to continue as the national peak youth work body. Other programs which may be effected by this issue include Education, Employment and Training; Drug and Alcohol services, Mental Health service provision and camp programs.
 
In Canada the Harper Government is currently looking to scrap funding across the Child and Youth Work sector. First cuts are to university programs Including all major CYW programs and many Social work programs. They have also hinted to further cuts to social service education programs. Funding cuts to remote and rural youth services, fly-in fly-out services and out of school hours programs have all been reported to be on the cards.
 
In the United Kingdom extreme funding cuts to child protection by the Cameron government come on the back of decreased funding to youth centres and youth justice programs. Further cuts to outreach programs and youth homelessness projects have been tabled in parliament and are expected to take force by end of May.
 
Funding cuts
 
The saving grace to youth work in the developed world funnily enough comes from the United states where a massive increase to funding of Out of School Hours care just passed congress. Also a new program of youth social entrepreneurial ventures is being rolled out across 17 states including New York and Ohio.
If any of these program areas or funding issues affect you contact your local youth funding agency and tell them that you read this article on April 1st. If you have read this far we would like to say with a full and happy heart ARPIL FOOLS!

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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‘I was told I wouldn’t have time for reflective practice when I qualified as a social worker’

I recently came across this great article from Community Care in the UK through a post by the amazing Teenage Whisperer, Sam Ross. Sam reminds us that good supervision and support to reflect on the work is of extreme importance… something that as a social work student and youth worker in Australia we seem to lack as well.

Check out the post from Community Care here:  ‘I was told I wouldn’t have time for reflective practice when I qualified as a social worker’

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Failure is only the begining in youth work.

My best friends think that I am absolutely nuts. How can I work day in and day out with people who almost ritualistically fail in life. People who are such failures in societies eyes that they do not even register as worthwhile. This is how many young people are viewed in society. As failures!
 
For some reason we see failure as bad in our society. We believe that anyone who fails is useless and that they do not deserve to try again. However as every Ultimate Youth Worker will tell you failures give us a platform from which to work from and they make success taste oh so much sweeter.
 
Truman Capote said “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour”. Many of our young people try, try and try again this in itself is a huge success. When they finally get a win on the board they are ever more excited than before.
 
Almost every long term youth worker I have spoken to has told me that those mountain top experience are not what keeps them in the field but it does make the failures taste so much better.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Developing leaders in youth work: Its crucial to mentor.

Many years ago after finishing my degree I asked one of my professors for some guidence with an piece of work I was doing. Without hesitation she said that she would be delighted as we need to develop more leaders in the youth sector. This short statement has meant a lot to me over the years but I never fully understood its importance until this year.
As a teacher of youth work students I can see the passion and future potential colliding every day I teach. The students of today will be the managers in a decade. The work we do now will pay dividends in a generation. Sadly though, it seems that there is little happening post the education of youth workers.
We who have been in the sector for a while need to mentor those coming through. Whether you are a coalface worker, a Manager or a CEO you need to support the next generation coming through. If we truly want to see audacious youth workers in an excellent sector then we need to impart our practice wisdom to those who are going to be the leaders of the future. Every organisation which employs youth workers should mentor them. Every professional association should develop a register of potential mentors. Most of all it should become part of our core responsibilities to the sector.
If one youth worker supports one other youth worker per year through their career then we will see a revolution. Imagine mentoring 30-50 other youth workers who in turn support another 30-50. We would have a highly supported and trained workforce for generations.

 

Our challenge to you:

 

If you have five years or more in the sector, find one person you could potentially mentor for the next 12 months.

 

Let us know how you go! Leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter.

If you haven’t yet, sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker. (Sign up here)

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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We need to do better: Critically reflective practice and supervision in youth work

This evening I sat in on a class preparing students for a masters degree placement in the human services. The topic for the class was supervision and particularly reflective supervision. As a company that believes we need a better class of reflective practice and supervision I was really keen to see what they would tell students. Sadly it was a waste of time.
 
The students were shown an article about a critical supervision model and were told to role play a scenario using the model. Then the class ended! This was the only class these students ever had about critically reflecting in supervision. I was shocked!!! The students had a model for critical reflective practice, however it was clear that very few of their placement supervisors really did critically reflective supervision.
 
We need to spend more time on the idea of critical reflection and supervision especially in higher education. What more can we expect when  our students have a two hour class on the subject. We believe that for our sector to really become critically reflective it needs to be taught from the first class in our qualifications. For supervisors to be able to supervise well they need better training than a two hour class.
 
If you are an educator, a supervisor or a coalface worker we need to do better at critically reflective practice and supervision. Join with us to make this a part of your practice.
 

Apply for supervision today

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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We need more youth worker show offs!!!

I have had a number of discussions lately where people told me they know nothing about youth work. The sad part was that they were professionals who worked with youth workers from time to time. I have also had these conversations throughout the years with member of the general public. We are just not as well marketed in the general public as we think we are.
We need some more people to spruik what we do as youth workers. Not just the occasional person who we all pick on from within our ranks. We need professional associations, practice groups and large organisations to get on board and change the public perception of youth work. We as individual youth workers need to let people what we do.
We need to become better at self promotion.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Great tools for youth workers: Use an Ecomap.

One of the most used tools I have in my kit is an Ecomap. An Ecomap is a graphical representation of the systems at work in a person or groups life. The graphic places the individual or group in the centre and all the other groups or individuals which have influence over them. This great tool has been in use since 1975 when it was invented by Hartman.
The basic idea is that you draw a circle and put the client in it. You then draw circles around the outside which represent the groups and people involved with the client. The reason this is one of my favourite tools is that it shows the people and groups which have influence, whether good or bad, over a persons life. This can then be used to discuss positive influence and the need to deal with negatives.
give it a go.
P.S. If you think the example above looks pretty boring… me too. Our good friends over at Canva.com have come up with a great set of templates to tart up you ecomap and make it look a million bucks. check out www.canva.com to see what they can help you create.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Youth Work 2.0: A manifesto for the future.

We are on the brink of disaster! Our education of youth workers, lack of ongoing professional development opportunities, lack of self-care and professional support is leading to an under resourced service system at the breaking point. recently we heard that the revolving door at the end of youth work qualification is spitting people out of the sector 18 months after qualifying. This is a disaster!!!
When Ultimate Youth Worker began we saw these issues and asked ourselves what would youth work look like if it was properly resourced and supported post qualification, A second generation or 2.0 software update if you will. We wondered what it would take to bring us back from the edge. The list was long and extensive. Over the last year we have spruiked some of our ideas, but here are the two issues we see as critical to our coming year and advocacy in the sector.
  1. First and foremost we need a sector that is resilient. The revolving door needs to be slammed shut. Lets be honest… as a sector we really suck at self care. We don’t teach it in our courses, we don’t do it in our organisations and our supervisors don’t know how to guide us through the difficult times. There are a few exceptions but the weight of stats and anecdotal evidence is against us. Self care must become a core component of our education and our practice.
  2. We must get rid of our obsession with the idea of generalist youth work. That is a minimalist approach to a work which requires more of us. We need to be training specialist youth workers. Every degree should have an honours year where we specialise in an area of practice. AOD, Mental Health, Justice, Homelessness whatever the area young people are found there should be opportunities for specialisation. In particular we believe we should be training better youth mental health specialists at a bare minimum.
These are just two areas we will be advocating for and providing support in throughout the next 12 months and beyond. We have a long way to go but we must take the journey.
What do you think???

You can also leave us a comment below or post a comment on facebook and twitter.

If you haven’t yet, sign up for our newsletter to find out all the goings on at Ultimate Youth Worker (Sign up here)

 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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