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What I’ve learned from interviewing outstanding managers

Sophie Coulthard, creator and host of “The Road To Outstanding” podcast.


I have met and worked with some outstanding rated managers as part of my job as a consultant, and one day one of them shared something with me that sparked an idea; that she would love to be able to communicate with other managers what she felt had contributed to achieving an outstanding rating.

She said that not enough was being done in the sector to disseminate best practice, or share in the challenges faced along the way. In the weeks that followed I decided to launch a podcast and a series of interviews specifically aimed at people working within care in the UK.

I wanted to create a relaxed environment in order to really capture their thoughts and opinions, and a podcast seemed the perfect platform. Listeners can tune in whilst on a commute or driving to work, so it was important to keep the episodes light and crammed full of tips and strategies to build a better service. What better way to learn, than through people who had already done it?

I found some similarities with all the managers interviewed when talking about the challenge of balancing work and life outside of the business; they all found it difficult to switch off, but credited the support from their families and deputies. They also all talked about their drive and high standards, and that it was often someone in a leadership position who inspired them with how not to do things, rather than showing the way.

One manager, Amanda Odd, shared how she built great relationships with the local community and gave presentations to the local police about how to spot the signs of dementia. Later, when she wanted to start a project to build a crazy golf course in the grounds of the care home she was managing, the community rallied around, raising money and giving their time to help create something special for the residents to enjoy.

Another manager, Nicola Kelly,  talked about how easy it is to lose focus and get involved in day to day tasks, but one of the keys she found to achieving outstanding is to document the successes you have had by getting input from the staff or families involved.

Nicola said: “It’s not good enough to say you’ve taken someone to the beach, you need to be able to share why you took that person to the beach, who was involved and what the outcome was – That is what makes outstanding.”

The key messages I learned from series one included:

The outstanding managers have a rebellious streak! They all shared times when they had disagreed with authority and stood by their convictions.

  • They all work hard to raise the self-belief and esteem of the staff within their companies. Quite often when they had an idea, they had to work very hard to convince the team they were up to the challenge.
  • They value the team around them and the joint effort it takes to reach Outstanding.
  • They were not afraid to lose staff who were not on board with the mission.
  • They’d all had moments when they’d felt like they didn’t know what they were doing or how they’d ended up where they were.

It’s been a fascinating experience to go behind the scenes with these outstanding managers, and really understand how they operate and maintain their top rated services. I’m looking forward to series two, which begins in January and will bring even more in depth interviews as well as ideas, experiences and the odd laugh too!


To listen, just search for The Road To Outstanding on iTunes or go to theroadtooutstanding.podbean.com to listen online or download the PodBean app to listen on the go.



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