You are here

Stories of Transformative Leadership in the Human Services

Stories of Transformative Leadership in the Human Services
Why the Glass Is Always Full

  • Steve Burghardt - City University of New York (CUNY)—Hunter College School of Social Work and Partner in the Leadership Transformation Group, LLC
  • Willie Tolliver - City University of New York (CUNY)—Hunter College School of Social Work and Partners in the Leadership Transformation Group, LLC

© 2010 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Leadership Solutions

"A fantastic book. . . .A major contribution! Stories of Transformative Leadership in the Human Services is an extraordinary book by two highly accomplished social work educators and consultants. Based on years of experience in the classroom and in the field,Steve Burghardt and Willie Tolliver blend their "best practices" into a pedagogically creative and lively text that students and human service professionals alike will find engaging and invaluable. Social service agencies and workers are under siege, especially now in our global economic crisis, but this book is guaranteed to help in the struggles ahead for a more humane and just social service practice." 
—Robert Fisher, University of Connecticut, author of The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009.)

"A must read for directors, executives, funders, and board members! Given today's economic climate, there may not be funds for the hiring of consultants. Read Stories of Transformative Leadership in the Human Services and engage as an organizational team in their activities instead. You, your staff and the culture of the organization will be transformed. As Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see.' The paradigm that Burghardt and Tolliver introduce will have you do just that."                                                                                                    
—Claudette C'Faison, Cofounder and President of NY Youth at Risk, Inc.

Certain to excite and inspire both students entering the human services field and seasoned non-profit professionals, Stories of Transformative Leadership in the Human Services: Why the Glass Is Always Full is the first full-length leadership book to focus on the unique challenges of the public and non-profit executive, manager, and educator. Written in a lively story-telling style, the book develops a leadership model for those who inspire without bonuses and seek a powerful legacy through people's lives.

Authors Steve Burghardt and Willie Tolliver convey the stories of two social service agencies struggling to survive in a world of shrinking budgets, increasing needs, and lack of resources. While both agencies are run by hard-working managers, one is in constant crisis mode (racial tensions that simmer and boil over; professionals who end up exhausted and overeating after a crisis-filled day . . . every day), while the other, operating with no greater resources, lacks tension and turmoil as its managers respond to similar demands and client needs. Using real-life vignettes drawn from actual experiences, the stories distill important lessons and unfold in a powerful manner that will resonate with any professional asked to work harder . . . with a smaller budget. Questions woven through each story connect to the book's more theoretical material on leadership, personal mastery, and community-building.

Steve Burghardt, MSW, PhD, and Willie Tolliver, MSW, DSW, are professor and associate professor of Social Work at the City University of New York (CUNY)—Hunter College School of Social Work and partners in the Leadership Transformation Group, LLC. Authors of numerous works on organizational change and strategic development, they are award-winning teachers of human behavior, policy, and community organization. They have worked with thousands of human service and educational staff on new models of leadership, personal well-being, spirituality, collaboration in times of crisis, and how to sustain conversations on race and oppression for lasting change at work and in one's life. Please visit their website:

Part 1. The Depletion of Value
1. A Boring Assignment
2. Half-Empty? Half-Full?
3. Jack-of-All-Trades
4. Running to Catch Up
5. The Extra Mile
6. Clipping Coupons
7. The Assembly Line
8. Splashed Water
9. Good Grooming
10. Salt and Pepper in the Pot
11. Good News, Bad News
Part 2. Creating Abundance
12. Popsicle Sticks
13. Seeking Illumination
14. Casing a Lure
15. Mr. Trumbull's Motto
16. The Second Golden Rule
17. Clean As You Go
18. Carry Your Vision in Your Pocket
19. Politeness Doesn't Cost a Cent
20. Two Truths
21. Take the Cover off the Book
22. Build Your Community and They Will Come . . . Again
23. The Crossroads
Learning Guide: Reflective Questions for Discussion and Classroom Integration  
Part 3. A Leadership Model of Personal and Organizational Transformation
Starting Before the Beginning  
24. If the Work Is Sacred, Then So Are You
The Commitment to Being  
Meditation Exercises  
25. The Transformative Model
The Commitment to Doing  
26. Carry Your Vision as a Tool
Carry Your Vision as a Tool Exercises  
27. Practicing Patience and Politeness
Practicing Patience and Politeness Exercises  
28. Embracing Diversity
Embracing Diversity Exercises  
29. Clean As You Go
Clean As You Go Exercises  
30. Building Community
Building Community Exercises  
References and Books of Note
About the Authors

I have used this book for several years and I continue to adopt it each year as it helps students understand and view typical environments in nonprofit organizations.

Professor Denise Sommers
College Of Educ Human Services, Univ Of Illinois-Springfield
February 23, 2016

excellent leadership for social work students.

Dr Deborah Svoboda
School of Social Work, Eastern Washington University
March 31, 2013

The stories did not relate as well as I would have wanted for my class, because we are covering nonprofit management and philanthropy.

Nathalie Saltikoff
Humanities Dept, Endicott College
April 13, 2011

Text is creative and positive. Emphasizes what can be done. I'm excited to use it and looking forward to it.

Ms Martha Stark
School of Public Affairs, Baruch College
November 8, 2010

The narratives in this book provide great and valuable insights into how leadership styles can influence those around the leader- certainly, interesting reading for the more focused students

Ms Catherine Clune mulvaney
Nursing , Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
September 19, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 - A Boring Assignment

Chapter 3 - Jack-of-all- Trades

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental

ISBN: 9781412970174

ISBN: 9781412970167

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.