What Makes a Good Social Care Leader? By QCS
23rd March 2017
Words by Philippa Shirtcliffe
Driving my daughter and her friends back from a netball match last week, I was trying to not listen in to their conversation. They were chatting about which teachers they liked and why. From a teenager’s perspective, trying too hard to be cool is a big no (it’s just weird!) but listening and treating the students with respect seemed to rank highly. It made me think about what makes a good social care manager and a good leader – are the two the same and are they interchangeable or not?
All too often in social care, people who are very capable of ensuring people receive good care as frontline managers, suddenly find themselves in a leadership role – a whole different ball game. Googling the words ‘to Lead’ throws up many definitions but the most apt is probably ‘show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them’ Googling ‘to Manage’ pings up ‘ is to be in charge or supervising’. A Registered Manager needs all these skills, but what makes them stand out as a good leader are the attributes my daughter and her friends were defining as what makes a good teacher; the ability value and respect people. A good social care leader recognises that people and relationships are important and for staff to follow, there must be respect.
Over the years investigating whistleblowing concerns and grievances, managers who only focus on the end goal, be it driving growth and sales or achieving targets, sometimes fail to recognise the importance of motivating, inspiring and earning an employee’s respect by treating them as they would like to be treated. Good social care leaders must be effective communicators, they have to have the ability to communicate in a way their teams understand, to communicate their vision clearly and lead their team to the end goal. Importantly, leaders need to be able to take their staff on a journey with them, setting achievable, measurable goals along the way. Finally, a good leader recognises we are all human, we make mistakes and they will focus on the lessons that are learnt from those mistakes. The ability to use those lessons to drive change, improvement and innovation rather than destabilising and losing focus separates the good leader from the poor one.
Good social care can transform people’s lives, good leadership and management is an integral part of this.