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Empowered leadership requires more than a course

8th February 2021

Empowered leadership requires more than a course, writes Benetas Head of Talent and Capability, Andrew Jamieson.

Leadership development is critical to an organisation’s success.

Too often people find themselves in management and executive roles after being successful in a technical or functional position. The capabilities and skills they need however, to fully succeed as a leader, are very different.

In the aged care sector, we too often see leaders step down in their responsibility. Often because they’re more comfortable delivering on their area of expertise, and sometimes because the organisational culture doesn’t enable them to fully embrace their position.

This might feel like a safe choice, but it inevitably leads to a domino effect that sadly results in others below them stepping down in their work. This not only compromises growth and sadly limits a provider’s potential, but it also affects accountability, the experience of employees working with that leader, and wider cultural issues.

Critical to organisation success

In late 2019 Benetas undertook a capability review and identified ‘empowered leadership’ as one of six critical priorities to deliver our five year Next Generation Strategy. This means giving our leaders the trust, support and tools to exercise leadership and to be accountable.

We see this as fundamental to our organisation’s ability to deliver on the strategy and our ability to meet the real needs of our clients. For empowered leadership to be achieved and experienced by our employees, we need to deliver more than a course or training program.

Programs that build capability

A number of initiatives have been adopted at Benetas to support behaviour change in the workplace from leadership skills development for many years as part of our leadership development program to an immersive ‘Leader-As-Coach’ program for our senior leaders.

Our core focus going forward is on ensuring that this learning is then brought to life and felt through the impact that our leaders have in empowering their employees as well as integrating the learning on the job to shift from what they learned to how they behave as a leader.

Providing ‘stretch’ opportunities

The other key element is ensuring that our employees are challenged in their existing role. That means actively providing ‘stretch’ opportunities to act up and to have broader responsibilities and accountability. I’ve personally been stretched to take on functions outside of my comfort zone, both in a temporary and ongoing capacity.

Accelerating professional development

We utilise the very simple 9-box grid model to undertake regular succession planning, and use that to identify opportunities to invest in our leaders, current or emerging.

We have been looking at how we can provide accelerated development for high-potential talent at Benetas. These people are high performers and we have assessed that they have the potential to succeed in more senior roles. The challenge then is how to support their development and to retain them for the future, using a mix of formal and experience based learning. Correctly identifying and fostering leadership potential, in the next generation of leaders is a big challenge for aged care.

It’s not all about the learning budget

It’s said that we learn the most through experience, and we need to provide these kinds of development opportunities that complement formal learning. They mightn’t cost an arm or a leg, but they enable a change in culture and mindset that certainly allows us to see people fulfil their leadership potential and be prepared to step up in the future.

Our ability to exceed client expectations and deliver essential services to older Australians relies on our ability to develop empowered leaders now and into the future.

Read the full article HERE, originally published in the Australian Ageing Agenda.