Clenton Farquharson MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), reflects on what leadership means in social care as he is named winner of the Social Care Top 30, and how he wants to use this platform.
When I first heard I had been nominated as a leader in social care I was really shocked. All the “big hitters” were on the list, along with just me from Balsall Heath. It made me really proud that I’m thought of in that way.
My aim is to raise the profile of people who draw on care and support to influence much needed social care reform, to highlight what people with real lived experience can bring. There’s a saying by Daniel Priestly “don’t try to be in the spotlight, try to become the spotlight,” and I want to become a spotlight for people with lived experience.
Good leadership is what we want to see in a good human.
I’d start a leadership revolution if it was left to me. Leadership is not about command and control, rather it’s about restoring a sense of being human – being kind, trusting people, being able to really listen and care. And we can all do that.
The pandemic has realised big challenges for leadership in social care. Our role is to end the idea of them and us being on different sides. It’s a bit like the so-called culture wars – this isn’t about winning, but about defending what being human really means. At the moment, in the outside world as well as in social care, there’s too much shouting going on and no one is really listening.
We need to hear and recognise the best stories that win our hearts and invest more in our human infrastructure. The recent TLAP report Personalisation in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, shows that even in the darkest of times there are people out there shining a light on what’s good in places and communities around the country. The 3Rs of social care reform, based on risk, relationships and reciprocity, shows examples of the best side of being human in social care. We need to connect to those principles.
Leadership as ambition for change
As leaders we need to be prepared to show our vulnerability. It takes courage, honesty and humility to face our fears. But using our vulnerability, and exposing ourselves to risk by being open helps us to understand what it means to be human. To show up as fully ourselves, and align ourselves with our values.
I know I am in a privileged position in this role. I want to see much more involvement of people with lived experience and I want to hear a greater diversity of voices. It’s not about me and a handful of others always being asked to be ‘representatives’ as we can’t possibly represent everyone. Working with TLAP this year, and with the opportunities presented by the new White Paper, I will work to create the spaces for other voices to be heard and listened to. People should be able to have influence even at local level – down to the street or neighbourhood, and drive for what matters most to all of us in our lives.
I like to think in pictures, and this image sums it up for me- it’s about the ambition of the caterpillar casting a shadow as a butterfly – as both an achievement in itself and hope for future success.