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24 August 2023

Deborah: collaborating to create change

Deborah is leading on some big changes in her organisation so she joined the Pathways programme to develop her leadership style.

Deborah is an Assistant Director at the London Borough of Islington.  

Passionate about leadership and development, Deborah embarked on Pathway 4 to challenge herself as a leader, to bring back new ideas to her team to improve the service and to connect with social workers across the country. It’s evident how dedicated Deborah is to her role as a social worker. 

Before starting your journey on Pathway 4, what were you hoping to get out of the programme?  

The world of a senior leader can be quite isolating and sometimes lonely where you don’t have many direct peers. During my social work career, I haven’t moved around a lot of local authorities and have remained in the same area for a long time. I decided to do the Pathways programme because I wanted the opportunity to connect with other senior leaders, to understand the challenges and strengths from other local authorities across the country and to see how things are done outside of London. I also wanted to challenge myself by changing up my working week, giving myself the opportunity to reflect, prioritise and bring back ideas to improve the service areas that I represent and drive positive outcomes for the children and families we support. 

Reflecting on the residential experience, was there a particular session or conversation that impacted you? 

Rasheed Pendry spoke to us about values, which led me to reflect on my own, as well as on just how different the values of each leader in the room were. I recognised that there were elements of his leadership style which work with my own, and that I could embed into my role, but I also felt confident knowing which areas didn’t align with my own values.   

We also looked at the political landscape and the impact it has on social work, which was very useful as it’s an area of my practice I felt needed development. During the session, the facilitators referenced examples of how external factors influence service areas and this sparked ideas on how I can manage those situations when they arise. 

What reflections did you have from Maria Takaendisa’s session on racism? 

Maria’s session gave everyone a clear call to action, to lean into our discomfort in order to address racism and create change. Too often we hear ‘I don’t know what to say’, but the important thing is that we say something and allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable, and most importantly that we help drive action. We need to create spaces where we can have conversations on race in the workplace. 

I hope leaders in the room, despite feeling this discomfort during the session, will take back ideas and through their own motivations find ways to be more anti-racist and anti-oppressive in their service areas. 

What are you planning (or have already started) to implement within your LA off the back of the residential?  

I’m leading on some big changes within my organisation and so I’m reflecting on the residential and thinking about values, the political landscape and my leadership style to try drive this change. The residential gave me exposure to people who have already been delivering these types of changes, and so being able to meet with those people to discuss what was beneficial, the challenges and use these connections to help guide my approach has been brilliant.