GUEST COLUMN: The difference between a good manager and a great one


Skills for Care’s Oonagh Smyth returns with another guest column, this time tackling the topic of leadership and what makes a strong leader in the care sector.

Social care managers are some of the most skilled, passionate and hard-working people I know.

Managers are at the very core of their services. To be a successful manager in social care you need: to lead with compassion, to build excellent relationships, adapt quickly and often unexpectedly, and be able to make decisions while also being open to feedback; to generate income and keep the service sustainable; to work within a regulatory environment; be a marketer and a recruitment expert; and, importantly, to put your head and heart into the work that you do. Now try telling me these are unskilled roles.

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Skills for Care is the membership body for registered managers in social care, and we provide exclusive support and resources to our members.

We run over 100 local networks which provide an opportunity for registered managers to come together to connect with and learn from others in the same situation as them. Feedback from our network attendees has highlighted how useful the networks have been in combatting the, at times, isolating role of a registered manager.

We’re proud to be a key source of support for social care managers, and with this campaign we’re supporting leaders at all levels.

You don’t need to be in a managerial role to be a leader. Leaders can be found across an organisation – whether that’s a team motivator, someone with a specialist area of interest such as wellbeing champions, or someone who is leading the way in new, innovative ways of working, for example digital developments.

As managers, it’s important that we recognise and nurture these talents in other leaders within our teams.
This includes identifying the leaders of our future.

We know from our data that if the social care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population then the number of filled posts within social care will need to increase by around 480,000 posts by 2035.

That’s why it is vital that we’re thinking about attracting and developing younger workers and planning for the workforce of the future.

We have guidance to support with identifying and developing new managers.

We also need to consider how we’re supporting diverse leadership in social care. Right now, 21% of people working in social care are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, but we don’t have this same representation at leadership level.
Current leaders need to focus on equality, diversity and inclusion to foster an environment that provides opportunities for everyone to be able to progress.

This is where taking a compassionate leadership approach is important – understanding the different needs and experiences of different people and treating the people in your team as individuals, with consideration and empathy for the specific barriers they may be facing inside and outside of work.

Our ‘Moving up’ programme supports leaders from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to take their next step, and registrations are now open for 2022.

As leaders and managers we need to look after ourselves and look after our teams, to help to grow and support the leaders of the future.

Skills for Care offers a wide range of support for leaders including information on managing people, supporting wellbeing and developing new leaders:

Tags : Guest columnOonagh SmythSkills for Care
Sam Lewis

The author Sam Lewis

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