The challenges faced across the care sector today in delivering high quality, person centred care require strong and effective leadership at every level. There are numerous definitions of leadership but one of the most simple is ‘the will and ability to succeed, and the character to inspire confidence in others’. A leader has got to learn to dominate the events which surround them; they must never allow these events to get the better of them. They must ensure nothing diverts them from their goal; they must always be on top of their job and prepared to accept responsibility.
The first essential in any leader is that they should have the complete confidence of those around them. This starts from having self-confidence in their own ability which itself comes from knowledge. A thorough understanding of all aspects of their profession, at whatever level they are, is essential. The ability to understand the situation fully, plan soundly, give clear direction, and deal promptly and effectively with the unexpected will all help to inspire confidence in others.
Secondly, a leader must know their team well. They must know them as individuals, understand their feelings, and appreciate their capabilities and limitations. Equally importantly, they must give consideration to their welfare and interests if they want them to perform at their optimum. Knowing your team well takes time and effort but is a vital aspect of good leadership.
Loyalty and integrity are essential qualities in any leader. A leader must be seen as someone who adheres to the principles of fairness and honesty, whilst avoiding hypocrisy. The behaviour of leaders has to be consistent and regular over time. Furthermore, these qualities must extend in equal measure to those below as well as to those above. A leader must never take shelter behind the shortcomings or mistakes of their juniors. Instead, they must help resolve the situation that has arisen and then seek to develop those involved to avoid any repetition.
Finally, good leadership is about inspiring other people with the desire to share in and achieve a common goal. It is about instilling in all members of the team a passion to produce something in which they, both individually and collectively, can feel real pride. Passion is more than a wish, or a desire or intent. It is an all-consuming drive to achieve only the best possible outcome.
It is absolutely vital that we produce leaders, at every level, who have the desire to deliver the best possible service, the character to instil confidence in others and the passion to impart a real sense of ownership and pride. Developing such attributes takes time and commitment. However, the benefits that result from rounded and well-developed leaders at every level will bring significant improvements to the individual, to the staff team, to the organisation and – most importantly – to those receiving care.
RMBI (Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution)
and NCF Director