What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?

In this guide, discover the key fundamentals of successful leadership in health and social care. 

Learn how to inspire, influence, and empower teams to achieve exceptional care outcomes.

What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?

Table of Contents

What is leadership in health and social care?

The role of leadership in health and social care is to guide, inspire, influence, and empower individuals and teams to deliver exceptional care for service users.

This role is incredibly important. The result of good leadership in social care can fundamentally and positively impact the life of a service user, and we can all agree that there are few things more important than this.

Leaders in health and social care must balance the simultaneous priorities of delivering patient-centred approaches to empower service users, foster collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs), advocate for equal and fair patient access to services, and support and drive positive change across the sector.

Given some of the challenges the sector faces, these leaders must also promote to future generations that social care offers them a clear, meaningful career pathway.

It’s important to remember that health and social care is filled with, and requires, different types of leaders – something which we cover in more detail in our handy ‘Discover your leadership style and unlock your potential’ guide.

What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?
Leadership in health and social care empowers teams to deliver outstanding care and shape a better future for the sector

Why are leadership skills important in health and social care?

When times are challenging, we often look to leaders for guidance. The health and social care sector faces several key challenges which strong leadership in care is essential for.

These challenges include:

Funding and financial pressures:

External economic pressures have led to cuts of public sector funding, and in many cases directly impacting NHS and social care services. In turn, this hinders the ability to recruit new staff and, in some cases, reduces access to certain treatments and services.

Demographic changes:

The UK’s aging population is leading to more people with complex health and social care needs. This means there is an increased demand for health and social care services and longer-term care, challenging the capacity of the current system.

Technology and integration:

While tech can support the transformation of health and social care services, there are sometimes barriers to adoption. These include the need for training, workforce resistance to change, and interoperability between NHS and social care systems.

These obstacles only serve to emphasise just how important it is that we have transformational leadership in healthcare, and that the right people with the right leadership capabilities lead this transformation.

So, what are some of the most effective leadership skills in health and social care?

What are the essential characteristics for successful leadership in health and social care?

Health and social care requires quite specific leadership characteristics. There are few other industries where qualities such as empathy, compassion and adaptability are so important to outcomes.

We recently conducted primary research to help inform the future of leadership in social care. Our Leaders of Tomorrow research report asked respondents to decide what they viewed were the most important leadership skills in health and social care.

The top five essential characteristics for successful leadership in health and social care were:

  1. Good communication
  2. People skills
  3. Compassion and empathy
  4. Passion
  5. Adaptability
What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?
Good communication was found to be the most important trait of a successful leader

Following close behind these were positivity, optimism, and emotional intelligence. The established care leaders we spoke to said these were all an essential part of building a culture of trust and empowerment – which sits at the core of leadership in health and social care.

However, leadership in healthcare goes even further beyond these essential characteristics.

To demonstrate successful leadership, it’s so important to create a meaningful, impactful set of next steps that demonstrate best practice leadership.

Step one: Having a shared vision

A shared and clear vision ensures you and your team are on the same page. A leader can have the best intentions in the world – but their goals, values, and direction must also reach and inspire their team around them.

Step two: Nurturing the right skills

Nurturing the right skills is about more than bringing in skilled employees. It also covers training existing employees in new skills. Understanding the current skills in your team and where the gaps are lets you match different strengths together and identify areas for growth.

Step three: Focusing on outcomes

When you’re laying out a route to success, it’s important to know where you’re going. A focus on outcomes provides clarity for your team members, and allows you to collectively track key insights and information on your journey to your goal.

At PASS, we like to say there is a fourth step – a secret ingredient. And that is sustaining the impact of the above. Investment in people, training and development opportunities and mentorship programmes are essential. These are the hallmarks of a leader who is committed to bettering the future of both their people and the social care sector.

What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?
The key to leadership is sustaining impact through continuous investments in training and mentorship, advancing the social care sector

How can you improve your leadership skills in health and social care?

For starters, there is funding available for those seeking to improve their leadership skills. The Workforce Development Fund provides support towards the cost of vocational learning in care. Organisations can claim up to £2,000 per learner per year, making it a useful fund for leaders looking to bring in new carers to their teams.

Individual Employer Funding is aimed at individual employers and covers training costs to develop your skills as an employer, direct costs of completing training & qualifications, and hiring replacement support while sending an employee on training courses.

User Led Organisation Funding provides disabled people’s/user led organisations with funding which can improve the knowledge and skills of individual employers, personal assistants, and prospective personal assistants.

And the Lifetime Skills Guarantee includes full funding for almost 400 level 3 qualifications, available to any adult over the age of 19 who doesn’t already hold full level 3 qualification already. The website includes a full list of training providers.

You can use funding like this to access healthcare leadership courses and develop your leadership skills. The resources available to you don’t end there, though.

Our Leaders of Tomorrow Toolkit is packed full of helpful resources for current and aspiring leaders in care to focus on improving leadership skills, including:

Care Management Matters Podcast: a look at why effective leadership is crucial to create the right culture in a care setting.

Care Quality Commission YouTube channel: packed full of videos addressing leadership in care – learn from the experts and strengthen your leadership skills.

Skills for care blog: covers everything from giving a good induction to new staff to how to support staff delivering end of life care.

Leadership development by the King’s Fund: the King’s Fund provides leadership development programmes to support leaders in implementing integrated care systems. You can even contact them directly for an informal conversation on how they can support you and your leadership team.

What are some good leadership examples in health and social care?

We’ve covered the essentials for successful leadership in health and social care, and looked at some surefire ways to improve your leadership skills.

Now, let’s look at some good leadership examples and approaches that are specific to social care. No matter your leadership style, these are the building blocks of leading with confidence.

Leading by example:

A good leader embodies the values and principles they expect from their team members. That means demonstrating what they expect from their team by doing it themselves.

Clear communication:

Effective leaders communicate clearly and transparently with their team members, patients, and other stakeholders to make sure that everyone understands their roles, responsibilities, and goals.

Empowering others:

Strong leaders empower their team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work. By empowering others, these leaders allow them to grow into their own style of leadership.

Building relationships:

Successful leaders in health and social care understand the importance of building strong relationships with patients, families, staff, and community partners.

What are the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care?

Adaptability and resilience:

Leaders anticipate challenges, embrace change, and proactively seek solutions to overcome obstacles while maintaining a positive attitude and inspiring others to do the same.

Advocacy and social responsibility:

Effective leaders advocate for the needs of their patients or clients, as well as the broader community – a lot of the best work done in social care is done by those willing to engage with patient and community needs.

Continuous learning and development:

Great leaders prioritise their own ongoing learning and development, as well as that of their team members.

What kind of heath and social care leader do you want to be?

This article is just one piece of your own leadership puzzle. While we have laid out the fundamentals for successful leadership in health and social care, it’s up to you to decide on the kind of leader you want to be and how you’d like to share that in your social care setting. 

At PASS, we’re always updating our Social Care Leadership Hub – a destination for you to access a variety of free, downloadable resources to support you on your leadership journey.

Make sure you check it out and share with your colleagues and peers, so they too can benefit!

Get your personalised quote now 🚀