Amongst the many challenges facing social care – political pressures, severe funding cuts, low pay and lack of parity with health care – none is more significant than leadership.
The question we face is how to recruit and retain high calibre individuals with passion, commitment and the right attitudes, able to provide strong leadership and deliver safe, quality services? (One solution, I believe, can be found in coaching – but more on that later).
The 2015 ‘State of Care’ report, produced by the Care Quality Commission, highlighted the relationdship between leadership and quality of service, finding that “94% of services rated good or outstanding overall were the same for leadership”.
From over two decades of previous management experience in social care, I know that managers face extreme demands. They deal with far greater complexity and higher levels of responsibility than equivalent roles in many other fields. Registered managers are a particular example.
The sector needs strong leaders, and the onus is now on organisations to consider how best to creatively support the transformation from manager to leader. (To quote the renowned business scholar Peter Drucker: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”)
Whilst financial reward for effort is important, there are other equally important ways to reward staff, to show value and appreciation. One way is to invest in coaching for managers, to support leadership development. Direct training – explaining the ‘how’ of management – is of course crucial, but coaching is an entirely different form of support. Coaching is fundamentally about self-development, and the ‘why’: it enables managers to both quickly grow their confidence and improve their performance.
Social care needs managers who can motivate and inspire, those who can set high standards and monitor quality. Yet I know from my experiences as a leadership coach that confidence, understanding how to be assertive and managing critical conversations are major concerns for managers.
Coaching can help to overcome these challenges, whilst also:
- enabling managers to think in new ways and clarify their thinking
- enabling managers to develop their own answers and find new ways to solve established problems
- supporting managers to develop their confidence and self-belief they can perform as a leader, with appropriate skills
- being goal-focused and achievement-orientated
It is, demonstrably, a short term investment which provides long term benefits: invest in coaching for managers early on in their career, support them to develop the essential qualities needed to be an effective leader, and you have a manager with sustainable skills, equipped and fit for the future.
Ultimately, when leaders improve their performance the benefits spread throughout the whole organisation. Strong, capable leadership is a benefit to us all.
Executive and Leadership Coach
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