As the memory of the latest election campaign begins to fade, it is interesting to reflect on how central the theme of leadership was to the debate. In the early days of political activity, the various attributes of the individual leaders were pored over – in a narrative filled with claim and counter claim. At different times, we heard about the centrality of strength, stability, values, commitment, passion and experience. All qualities that we would recognise and applaud within the not-for-profit sector.
At the National Care Forum (NCF), we know that good leadership is key to the success of our sector. We have some leading lights throughout the membership who offer inspiration, expertise and innovation. However, we also know that the future is only a day away, and to that end, we cannot rest on our laurels. The not-for-profit sector needs to focus on building a new set of leaders who can shape and transform the future provision of care in the UK. With this challenge in mind, at NCF we decided to take some action and begin the important process of investing in our leaders of the future – and so the Rising Stars programme was born.
At the NCF annual conference, with the support of Carterwood, we pulled together the first cohort of Rising Stars, giving them a unique opportunity to meet together, connect and begin the process of working out their leadership pathway. What a fantastic group. Coming from a wide range of services, including mental health provision, learning disability services and older people's care and nursing, these new managers came together full of enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference.
NCF has been working with a range of our partners to establish a programme for the Rising Stars, incorporating much of what we understand about good leadership. Key to this is support from your peers, and we have been quick to establish a support network for the managers to ensure that they are connected to each other and where possible, more local managers are already making plans to meet up.
We also wanted to embed the principles around mentoring. Many academic studies around leadership have demonstrated that step-changes in career paths have been brought about by the support and influence of a mentor, whether or not that mentoring process had been formalised. In order to achieve this, we asked the organisations nominating Rising Stars to also sign up to mentor an individual from another organisation – thereby spreading expertise and experience – and hopefully building and strengthening alliances between organisations.
The third component of our programme has been to offer development opportunities to the managers. We are able to start them on this journey with a thorough skills audit, giving them a benchmark from which to chart their progress. Then, there will be a range of development opportunities offered through partners and colleagues across the sector to give them a chance to polish up their emergent skills and ready themselves to take on the challenges of the future.
Finally, NCF is working with Common Age, an international organisation promoting the concerns of older people within the Commonwealth by building capability and capacity within the health and social care services, to host an international conference in the UK in 2018.
The NCF Rising Stars will all be able to take part in this exciting event, facilitating the opportunity to look across to other nations for inspiration, aspiration and friendship.
I am very excited about this new chapter in the work of NCF. I am also hugely impressed by the calibre of the new managers I have met, and feel that they represent a bright future for the UK's not-for-profit care sector. I also want to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of our partners in this programme, including Carterwood, Morgan Hunt, CMM and Common Age.
The Rising Stars 2017
- Samantha Curran, Greensleeves Care
- Maria Jose, Look Ahead Care
- Paula Southgate, Brendoncare Foundation
- Beccy Incledon, Parkhaven Trust
- Nicky Shepherd, Greensleeves Care
- Daniel Cole, Boroughcare
- Julie Harwood, Accord Housing
- Lesley Henderson, Sefton New Directions
- Michelle Bladen, RMBI Care Company