Successful care and support services and quality housing doesn’t just happen.
Even with the best people and fantastic buildings they still need to be brought to life through the power of leadership. But leadership is a nebulous concept that is difficult to pin down and define and seems to offer almost endless scope for different suggestions about what characteristics, behaviours and traits make the ‘perfect leader’. In my view trying to identify a perfect leader is an impossible (and pointless) task, not because leadership isn’t important (it absolutely is), but because trying to fix leadership as a set of rules or instructions seems to undermine the essence of what leadership is all about.
When I am asked what leadership is about, I always go back to the definition used by the Leadership Trust, which is about:
Using your PERSONAL POWER to win the HEARTS AND MINDS of people to achieve a COMMON PURPOSE.
How to lead
The only way to be a great leader is to be yourself. Don’t try to become a clone of someone else – be yourself and use your personal power with purpose and passion. We all have different qualities, styles and attributes. Leadership is about showing the best of who you are and being authentic. We all have the capacity to be leaders and there is no better place to start than self-leadership.
Leading to What
It is hard to motivate and get others to commit to a purpose that is only about making money for somebody else. Generating profits is not wrong, but it is probably not enough to really inspire anyone. It is helpful to be able to show people that what they are doing is contributing towards a higher purpose that involves helping make the world a better place and that is why working in the housing and care sector is so rewarding. But leadership doesn’t have to be complicated and there is much to be said for keeping things as simple possible and for encouraging frequent, clear and open communication about the goals being pursued.
Why people want leadership
Leadership involves motivation so that people want to follow – with their hearts as well as their minds. People want leaders they can trust. Trust can be hard won and quickly lost if leaders don’t act with integrity and are not seen to be doing the right thing. Leadership is seldom about grand gestures and one off actions, it is about creating a consistency of culture that gives as much as it takes.
We live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. The services and solutions that were considered satisfactory yesterday cannot be guaranteed to fit changing attitudes and expectations of today and tomorrow. At Housing 21 we are making a substantial investment in new Extra Care and Retirement Housing developments and in modernising our existing sites to make sure they remain desirable and suitable for contemporary living. But underpinning these investments in the infrastructure of new services we are also investing in developing the leadership potential of all our people so they can play their part in making Housing 21 and the services we provide ‘better than good’. We need everyone to act as leaders by being be prepared to adapt and respond to changing situations and circumstances, whilst also remaining clear and consistent in the how, what and why of their approach.