Sam Monaghan, CEO at Methodist Homes, reflects on what leadership means in social care as a Top 10 finalist in the Social Care Top 30.
Talking about your leadership and style can be a bit of a challenge. We’re all a work in progress and every day can bring something new, with the potential to be tested and to learn.
But for me, leadership is fundamentally about accountability and inspiring those who work for MHA to be the best they can be; to try to lead by example, at the forefront of the charity, speaking out for what we believe in. That’s what we do as a sector, so I was hugely honoured and humbled to be named as one of the top five leaders.
And because of what we do, being values-driven has to be at the heart of leadership. Being able to demonstrate that you live and breathe those values and seeing them translated through every aspect of the organisation, so that those you care for and support truly benefit. It’s about trying to inspire a culture of inclusivity, collaboration, respect and care.
Alongside the values, I think knowing who you are, your strengths, limitations and traits is also crucial. Understanding your own preferences and profile, how you operate, helps you to not only build and lead a complementary, rounded and effective team, but also facilitate others, fostering buy-in to an open and mutually supportive culture. One where accountability is clear, but contribution is intrinsic to the organisation’s development.
This is one of the reasons why, before the pandemic, we embarked on an ambitious leadership training programme for all our managers, whether running a care home or managing a team of accountants.
The programme, entitled Engaging Leadership, uses a coaching methodology to create a supportive performance culture, giving people confidence to engage with, trust and empower their teams. Through the course, participants are able to draw upon and translate their experiences and knowledge, sharing with others in a safe environment where they can learn from each other.
While the pandemic disrupted the programme, shifting it to Zoom, we are now picking up with previous delegates to see how they have been able to use the knowledge and experience they gained during the past two years and welcome managers new to MHA on to the programme. I know accountability during the pandemic will feature hugely.
And that very clear sense of accountability is, for me, such a core element of leadership. It needs to be seen and spoken. It’s why, over the last two years, it was never an option not to lobby and speak out on behalf of my frontline colleagues and those we care for and support. It was about not only seeking change, but giving voice to the experience besetting our sector.
Which leads me to the final aspect of leadership I’d like to touch on – determining and communicating a compelling direction for the future. We’re now part way through our five-year OneMHA strategy and we’ve been reflecting on what it means in these changing times and how we bring people on the journey with us.
The strategy was formed through collaboration across MHA and our annual managers’ conference and roadshows provide an opportunity for me and my team to engage with colleagues, communicate and further refine that vision and bring it alive.
Without that opportunity for ownership and influence, how can they as leaders enable their teams to see themselves in the strategy and as part of MHA’s present and future, which brings me full circle – to fostering an inclusive, creative and engaging culture.
People need to feel involved and listened to, otherwise how can they create the culture we all want across MHA – a place where we all enable people to live later life well.