Celebrate Chat Opinion

Leading the way in social care… Mark Topps, Regional Business Manager, Essex Cares

Regional Business Manager, Essex Cares

Leadership over the last couple of years has started to stand out in the crowd and set itself apart from management. Once upon a time people saw the two hand-in-hand.  Those days, however, are slowly easing and new managers coming through the sector are innovating the pathway and leading the way for their predecessors to do the same. I have long detested the term ‘management’ and/or ‘manager’ as I have never seen myself above or in control of anyone. I have previously spoken about being part of a team and inspiring from within, and I believe this is what makes a good leader.

The value of leadership in social care is vital. We are responsible for a team of people who are supporting some of the most vulnerable in society and an unmotivated, undriven workforce can lead to poor retention, poor performance and unmet needs of the people we support. Historically a teams’ performance would have been driven by reward and punishment, however collaboration, motivation and engagement has been shown to increase productivity, find solutions and increase staff wellbeing.

Technology, artificial intelligence and innovation is improving, which is fantastic news for a sector that for the last couple of years has done its best to stay afloat. The pandemic saw many long-term managers leave the sector, and we must now pave the way for the next generation.  They bring with them new and flourishing ideas which have the potential to transform social care, improve outcomes and put the sector on a more sustainable footing for the future. The pandemic has forged a culture of leaders focused on the wellbeing of their teams, ensuring that people feel listened to, valued and supported.

Within my own role and career, I have always remembered why I wanted to get into management.  It was never about the money or the status, it was about being in a role that could drive changes to ensure that the people we support and those that work in our teams, were supported and given the best opportunities. I am proud to have stayed true to my values in a sector that is so highly governed and where change is harder to make. Although I have been in management for several years, I remain open to the fact that times are very quickly changing, technology is accelerating and people are now looking for different things from their working roles. Listening to the views of others, collaborating and continuously improving culture and practices ensures we adapt and move forward.

Three of the innovative things I have done in my roles over the last few years which are easy to implement into any service are: removing annual staff surveys and replacing these with regular and meaningful check ins; removing the stigma of senior leadership and instead demonstrating to colleagues that shared leadership is more beneficial; and ensuring that those working on the frontline are recognised, rewarded and are given a seat at the table alongside management teams across the company.


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