Dominique Kent, CEO Senior Living at Pacific Investments, reflects on what leadership means in social care as a Top 10 finalist in the Social Care Top 30.
For me, it’s simple. Great leadership will be the difference between an organisation’s success or failure. This has probably been tested like never before in most businesses in the last two years. I know it was in my business. Strong leadership is critical to ensuring the people you serve internally and externally receive what you set out to deliver to them. Underpinning a successful business will be its values and they should represent the ‘heartbeat’ of the organisation at all levels and irrespective of role. They should be real and representative. They are effectively ‘the rules.’ When I ran The Good Care Group, I always met every new starter and my introduction would be simple ‘you were recruited because we saw in you what is important to us, our values, live by our values, make decisions in their context and you won’t go far wrong’.
Equally, for me recognising and acknowledging contribution runs alongside values. Every single person’s contribution is as important, no matter the level of the role. Value contribution, notice what people do (the little things as well as the big things), be someone they can reach, always respond when they write or call and have a conversation with them when they ask you for a chat. The loyalty you create will mean people go the extra mile when the business needs them to. Covid hit, and that’s exactly what my team did. They did before, but they went way above and beyond any expectation I had ever set.
I make this sound easy, conceptually it is but practically it takes commitment, tenacity, authenticity and time. It starts with culture; set out to create a high performing ethos that has team wellbeing at its heart and make it every leader’s accountability to make it happen. Results always follow! By wellbeing what I mean is:
- Set clear expectations – we all need to know what success looks like
- Hold people to account and tell them how they are doing
- Care! Take time to get to know your team, make sure you know what is important to them in and out of work.
- Be ok with emotion (this should be easy given what we do, but often its not given the attention it should be)
As a CEO, I take my responsibility to my team seriously. Anyone that knows me, knows I have unrelenting standards and that I expect a lot, always driven by my mission to deliver the very best to the people we care for (my customers and my team). I never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. Doing something well is what drives me, and I look for that in others.
Creating accountability at all levels and empowering people to make decisions is what contributes to ensuring the culture is truly lived. The creation of accountability also means people learn. Allow them to enjoy success when they achieve it and learn from their mistakes when they make them. This enables individuals to grow and flourish. I take the greatest of pleasure in watching this happen and seeing individuals that want to develop make their way through the organisation to reach their potential.
We have a dearth of leaders in social care – we won’t survive unless we nurture those that are committed and want to be there, whether that’s becoming an expert at the level they are at or whether it’s realising their dream to develop into a more senior leader. So for me, what is the value of leadership in social care? It’s simple, its invaluable…