It is easy to think of leadership in terms of someone standing on a pedestal metaphorically ‘banging a drum’, inspiring and influencing others to join a cause. We often think of leaders as those in positions of power, like prime ministers, presidents, royalty, chief executives, directors of companies, sports team captains, perhaps even religious leaders. Leaders can often appear to be elevated above those they are leading or influencing. Something that we don’t always associate with great leaders or good leadership is equality. However, many good leaders understand that to really engage and inspire others, treating people with equality is essential.
If you have ever attended a presentation where the speaker, presenter or teacher comes across with a sense of superiority, you may have noticed that they can be hard to listen to. None of us likes to be talked down to and an absence of equality between the speaker and the audience can be a significant barrier in getting the message across. An astute leader knows that they are more likely to be heard if they generate a sense of rapport and equality with those listening. This is a powerful understanding. The leader is one who ‘stands with’ and ‘walks beside’ those who are inspired to join their cause.
The importance of good leadership in social care
So, what has this got to do with social care? Well, everything. We need really good leaders in social care and whilst they may not be on a physical stage, the stage is the workplace. In the workplace, leaders inspire and influence those around them, while respecting equality.
Part of leading an effective team in social care is to work with the team, not in separation from them. Working in separation from the staff team can lead to an ‘us and them’ situation and this brings in an unhelpful if not destructive dynamic to the workplace. In addition, any sense of inequality or favouritism towards certain staff is likely to lead to division.
Equality is the foundation of a true team where people will work harmoniously together in a unified way. In sporting circles, this is sometimes referred to as having a good team spirit. Whilst we may not directly see this as powerful, it is in less than obvious ways. For example, a unified team sticks together and supports each other, developing resilience for when it is needed. A team built on the foundations of equality, who hold it as a critical value and a standard, will go the extra mile to work together to uphold that standard. And actually, it is just great to work harmoniously with others, and that is something worth upholding. There is a saying that ‘many hands make light work’, and teams working with equality at heart make their workload feel lighter too. A great leader then realises that they are only as good and as strong as the team they lead. Such leaders often have a sense of humility, often recognising that whilst they are the leader, they appreciate that they are in truth dependent on those around them for any kind of high-quality service or outcome.
At Grey Matter Learning we recognise the crucial roles both leadership and equality play in the quality of social care services. Our eLearning platform ‘Click’ offers an Equality and Diversity course to support staff, leaders, and managers. There are also eLearning courses specifically for managers, such as Supervision Skills for Managers and Managers Induction Standards. And for those who want to develop their leadership and management skills, we facilitate a range of face-to-face or webinar-based Skills for Care courses. They include Lead to Succeed, Well-Led and the new Leading Change Improving Care. The great news is that these courses qualify for workforce development fund funding, so they don’t need to make a big dent in your learning and development budget.
Learning and development for social care
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the staffing crisis facing the social care sector. There are no quick-fix solutions to these issues, and it is necessary for interventions at the government level to truly turn things around. But one thing we do know is that social care staff value opportunities to learn new skills and develop their practice and understanding. Offering them the chance to attend courses like these, shows them they are important and valued – this all helps with retention too. Recruiting new staff is only one end of this staffing crisis and a good leader and manager recognises that it is equally, if not more important to give focus to looking after the staff they already have.
To find out more about the Grey Matter Learning suite of online learning courses and our range of leadership and management courses, click here.