If you work in social care or nursing, you’ll understand the pivotal role of leadership skills in providing high-quality care. The ability to delegate and to inspire confidence in a wide variety of people is just as important as the skills and qualifications that enable a care professional to take up a leadership role in the first place. We're going to talk through our top three leadership tips, which are:

  • communication
  • delegation
  • listening

When it comes to leadership and management, the care sector is unlike any other. You don’t only need to demonstrate your effective leadership to colleagues, to take care of the staff in your charge and ensure you’re all working together to provide a high quality of care. You also need to exhibit positive, inspirational leadership to your patients, to provide them with a sense of confidence in the decisions being made. 

Good leadership usually comes with experience, but if you’re proactive and take the initiative, you can develop management methods and styles to help give your career a boost. 
Here are three tips which will specifically help if you’re a care professional looking to get ahead and take on a leadership role. 

Communication.

As a care professional, it’s important that you’re able to communicate effectively with both senior colleagues and those who are looking to you for instruction and guidance. This means being able to adapt your communication style to suit different scenarios, and knowing when to use the styles appropriately. Sometimes you will need to pass on information quickly and efficiently whilst in other circumstances you may be required to break bad news, to assert your authority or to explain the thinking behind difficult decisions. 

Likewise, a care leader needs to develop a professional rapport with patients, who will also be looking to you for information and support. 

As a leader, you need to be giving all these different people confidence in what you’re saying and the key to achieving the appropriate professional tone in each case is empathy.  Communication is a two-way street, so don’t just plan what you need to put across – take the time to put it in proper context, think about the listener’s possible reactions and listen closely to their feedback and any queries. An aptitude to empathise and put yourself in someone else’s shoes is priceless for effective communication.

Our recruiters in the care recruiters have given their top way to develop leadership skills in the clip below:

Delegation.

The ability to delegate tasks to different people is a key skill for any leadership position. But being able to delegate the right tasks to the right people is crucial for care professionals. You’ll need to be aware of your colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses and understand which tasks each team member can undertake confidently, correctly and safely. 

The first step towards developing delegation skills is to see each person as an individual, recognising their unique set of needs. Everyone performs at different levels once they are subject to workplace stress, distractions and pressure and it will often fall on the shoulders of a leader to offer support and guidance along with appropriate roles. Effective delegation can be used to motivate staff who are demotivated and to provide the right kind of challenge for colleagues who are keen to progress their careers. 

Ultimately, the positive aspect of identifying the individual weaknesses in your staff is to help them improve through mentoring or training so that in future they may become available for a wider range of delegated tasks. 

Listening.

There’s a world of difference between hearing what a patient or colleague is trying to communicate to you and really listening to what they’re saying. 

Whether you’re answering a seemingly straightforward question, considering a concern or responding to a behaviour, a care leader needs to be a listener of the highest professional standard. Only then will information be conveyed with accuracy and clarity and everything will be able to run as smoothly as possible.  

There’s an obvious risk to patient care when a nursing leader fails to listen, though far greater long-term damage may be done to the all-important relationship with a patient or colleague. When staff members think you don’t listen, they will no longer seek your advice and tasks may be carried out incorrectly or unsafely as a result. 

So listen to instructions, questions and feedback carefully – and if you don’t fully understand, never be afraid to ask. It’s one of the surest steps towards a happy and productive workplace environment.