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Why developing the next generation of leaders is vital to our sector
Having worked as a senior leader in the adult social care for 17 years, I have always believed strongly in supporting future leaders. I have worked in many operational leadership roles, including, Registered Manager, Regional Support Manager, Regional Clinical Quality Manager, Head of Care Quality and the Director of Health. Currently, I am the new Head of Social Care Content at Quality, Compliance Systems (QCS), the leading provider of content, guidance and standards for the social care sector. Wherever, I have worked, I have always set aside time to provide my teams with the support they have needed to grow into outstanding leaders.
What is the secret of good leadership and how do you support and develop staff to become outstanding leaders? The connection and the rapport that you forge with your staff, and residents, is very important. You have to earn their respect and you must lead by example. The best way to influence best practice is to be a role model and demonstrate the behaviours you expect from your team in your everyday practice. This is a simple concept. One of the most important points to get across to staff is that the little things matter. There is a saying in care which is ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’. Therefore, if you choose to ignore a call bell ringing or someone calling out for help, then your team will do the same.
Another simple way to start the journey of earning the respect of your team is to make sure they know you care about them. As a golden rule, at the beginning each day, I would always make a point of walking the floors and talking to staff and residents rather than heading straight to my office. This is how I would start the day, and end the day every day. There would no doubt be many other walk arounds throughout the day, but the morning and evening check in and out is vital.
Visiting every floor of the care home , any residents who are new admissions, and residents who are poorly is key for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows you to assess staff wellbeing and morale. Secondly, it enables you to see whether the home – in terms of personnel, skillset and experience - was suitably equipped to handle the varied and complex challenges that each day brings. A walk around the care home would reveal whether or not there was enough staff with the right skillset to deliver great care that day, and whether there were any clinical issues that needed my attention.
Having that initial oversight - and at the same time demonstrating to your team that you care - is invaluable – as it lays the platform for staff to care for residents knowing that they can call on you for support if they need to. I would always reinforce this point by touching base with staff at regular intervals during the day.
When staff have confidence in you, and you in them, you can work together to start to lay the groundwork to advance their careers. At this point, it is worth stating that not everyone wants career progression. Some staff are wholly dedicated to their shifts and the residents they support, but don’t wish to progress in their roles any further. Others, however, want to map out a defined career path. As a manager, it's your job to ensure they have all of the tools and resources they need to realise their ambitions.
Finally, as someone who has been heavily involved in the recruitment of staff for 17 years, whether you hire managers or grow them from within, it is my experience at least that the perfect manager does not exist.
In fact, great leaders aren’t born. They’re made. Made by their experiences and of course the senior managers, who help them to craft their skillsets. It is also worth remembering that on that difficult, but rewarding journey, there will be highs and lows. And even when managers have learned their trade, we should recognise that every manager will have their unique style of leading, which includes strengths and weaknesses. As their mentor, you need to find out what they’re good at, where they need to be supported and then work with them to create a comprehensive development plan, which will enable them to be successful. That is the key to nurturing great future leaders and, who can and will make marked difference to the lives of people living in care.
With over 8,500 pages of curated policies and procedures, that are always up to date, the QCS system can help you to develop future leaders. The QCS platform contains guides, advice and industry leading articles written by those with real-world experience, enabling you to bring the next generation of leaders through.
You can learn more about Lindsay here.
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