Name: Dorothy Chambers
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Job title: Service Manager, Initial Response Service
Leadership is important to my work because it helps to define acceptable behaviours and is an opportunity to role model to staff with varying levels of experience. When it comes to direct work with children and families, social workers can also role model and empower those they work with, and so leadership also plays an important part in bringing about change in this context.
Leadership has certainly brought about change for my colleagues in their social work practice. Chasing up timescales for assessments was a daily and onerous task for me, and my team not look forward to me coming around with ‘the list’. This raised their anxieties and did not give them a wider understanding of why there were timescales in place for assessments.
However, by changing the aesthetics of how this was done, they were able to reflect on the importance of the family receiving their assessment in a timely manner. It also meant that social workers took more pride in completing their work with a more focussed approach, making them feel valued and that they were contributing to the smooth running of the service.
I’ve learnt a number of things about leadership through my experiences with Frontline. I have developed an understanding that it is not about what you do, but the way that you do it. I have also learnt that it is not just about productivity but about the aesthetics, and while challenge can be difficult it shapes how others may view you in a positive light.
The leadership capabilities which I was taught as part of the Firstline programme outline how good leadership – and good social work practice – looks. I use them on an ongoing basis in supervision, in mentoring staff and in creating a teaching and learning environment. This enables a more holistic understanding of the areas for development of the social workers that I manage. The capabilities have and continue to help me develop as a leader.