What is the greatest challenge confronting managers and leaders in the care sector? Possibly it is finding the time to attend management and leadership training at one of the numerous actual and “virtual” leadership academies established in recent years.
Are the huge resources now being devoted to leadership and management training really making a difference to the quality of services being delivered? So many organisations are now involved in management and leadership training it would be difficult to calculate the total expenditure to date. But a crucial question remains – what quality indicators are in place to ensure that the rate of return justifies the current investment? How do we distinguish excellence from mediocrity, is there a relationship between star ratings and leadership, are leadership and management really the same?
Paradoxically it is the law of unintended consequences which becomes apparent when there is a lack of focus and joined up thinking across the care sector especially within the critical area of leadership.
Leaders and managers have a vital role in improving services especially in the critical area of developing and supporting staff to deliver a world class care service. But do we really need quite so many leadership academies, leadership programmes, new projects and initiatives? Apart from the obvious cost and resource implications I believe that we now need to invest in qualitative research which demonstrates whether this investment is really making an impact on the front line. What makes an effective manager? Do effective managers attract and retain more highly qualified staff? Is the quality of management reflected in the experiences of people who use services?
There are a large number of different types of management and leadership programmes both accredited and non accredited, provided in-house or externally. Many programmes have identified outcomes which lead to nationally recognized awards such as DMS, MBA, MPA, RMA, and PQAASW. Some programmes seem more concerned with inputs (number of lectures delivered) and outputs (how many people attended). How is the aim of becoming a more effective manager translated into practice? With the growth in e-Learning and blended learning the plethora of toolkits and audits freely available is it too controversial to suggest that existing managers should already be able to evidence their competence in the key areas of management and leadership?
However, with everyone from SCIE, ID&EA, the Kings Fund, Open University, ADCS, CWDC, and Skills for Care offering or developing management programmes and Action Learning Sets there is the potential for considerable confusion for employers or students. How can employers identify the most appropriate and cost effective training available? Government targets and public expectations require managers to have a sophisticated set of skills and knowledge which will deliver quality services across an increasingly complex landscape which includes personalisation and direct payments.
In September we will be publishing an independent (and brief) guide to help you make sense of what is available in the area of leadership and management development. Keep in touch by signing up for our free monthly eLetter. In the meantime if you have any questions, comments or contributions please contact us.
You may also wish to refer to our jargon busters section for further explanations of acronyms etc and navigating the social care landscape to understand the different roles and purpose of the organizations listed above.