Leadership in Social Care – Solid Ground

Do you know how important trust is for a leader?

It is critical.

As leaders possess the power of influence, they cannot continually break the trust of those they seek to influence and lead. Trust is the foundation of leadership.

Trust is like change in a leader’s pocket. Each time you make a good decision you earn more change. Each time you make a bad decision, you pay out some of your change to the people you lead. Every new leader starts with a neutral amount of change in their pocket. Whatever they do builds up or depletes the change they have. If leaders keep making bad decisions they eventually run out of change, and unsurprisingly, change is wanted. In contrast, leaders who keep making good decisions and meeting a consistently high level of care means even if a huge mistake is made, they will still have change left over.

So how do you build this trust? By showing competence, connection, and character consistently. If you make a mistake based on ability, you will most likely be forgiven, especially if they can see that you’re still growing as a leader. Time will also be given for you to connect, after all relationships are not built over night. However, someone who slips in character will not be trusted.

Character and trust work in unison. How can someone have good character if they lie, and how can a liar be a good leader?

Leadership is like a long car journey. You may know the direction you are going in but not know the route. You are trusting in the driver, the leader to get you there. When you lead people, they consent on taking this car journey with you. Your character predicts the route you take and how enjoyable it will be. Good character means the trip is smooth and gets better with time. However if your character is flawed, the longer the trip, the more restless your team will become and the bumpier it will be.


Because no one enjoys spending time with someone they do not trust.

Good character communicates the following three things to your team. Consistency, potential and respect.

Consistency – Leaders who do not have the willpower, determination and drive to consistently deliver the highest levels of care possible cannot be counted on every day. Even on the worst of days, you have to be able to work to a high level, this is vital in social care.

Potential – Weak character is limiting. Who do you think has the greater potential to achieve their dreams and have a positive impact on others: someone who is honest, disciplined and hardworking, or someone who is deceitful, impulsive, and lazy? Talent alone isn’t enough. It must be bolstered by character if a person desires to go far. You can have all the raw talent in the world, however if you do not have the character to tap into this it will be wasted. See trust as an action, talking about it does not make you more trustworthy. You build it by achieving results, in the right manner, with integrity and always seeing the value of your team. When a leader’s character is strong, people trust in them and they trust in the leader to release their potential. This gives the team hope for the future on a personal and collective level, promoting belief in themselves and their organisation.

Respect – Weak character means you can’t earn respect. Respect is absolutely essential for lasting leadership. How do leaders earn respect? By making well informed decisions, by being honest and admitting when they are at fault, and by putting what’s best for the team and the organisation ahead of themselves.

Take a moment to reflect. Think about those you lead within the social care sector. Do you think you are trustworthy? This can be measured simply by how open your team are with you. Do they share opinions, even those which are not positive? Maybe they open up about their personal aspirations and woes? If not, there is a possibility they do not trust you.

Good leaders focus on their professional skills. Exceptional leaders also focus on their character.

Try focusing on the following three areas to improve your character: integrity, authenticity and discipline.

Be honest with everyone, be yourself with everyone, do the right things always and be consistent.

Remember, exceptional leadership starts with professional skills and finishes with character. To have good character you need to be honest. The onus is not on them to trust. The onus is on you to earn it.

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