Member Spotlight: Top Leadership Tips From Founder Leanne Silverwood

Leanne is the Managing Director of Local Care Force and founded the business 13 years ago. Leanne originally worked in mental health care and could see that she could improve the industry by creating a caring agency that provides quality, trained and well-supported Nurses, Carers and Support Workers.

 As Leanne was a National Winner of the FL National Awards 2017, we caught up with her for a quick chat to understand what’s the secret to her success. 

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of my team and the ethical and successful business we have built. Despite various challenges, together we have built a highly successful, respected and values-driven recruitment and training business. Our recruitment and compliance processes are very strict and at times can be an impediment to supply and demand. Our training is face to face and expensive but our incidents versus the immense volumes of people working for us is impressively low and unheard of. I am proud of our business, my team and our strong values, because of them we have sustainability and I sleep at night knowing the people we support and our team are safe.

What are the best and worst parts of your job? 

The best thing about my job is the people I meet on a daily basis who work in the care industry. This includes my team in the office, the nurses and support & care workers – many of whom have worked with us for many years. Also the clients we work with, especially those who are innovative, understanding and truly care about the people they support. As a care provider, we look after people on a daily basis and on occasion we save lives – it doesn’t get much better than that.

The worst part is being let down by the people you have invested in. We support all our staff and clients and so it is difficult when the trust that has been built is betrayed. However, the course of business doesn’t always run smoothly.

What is the most important characteristic that every leader should possess?

For me it is probably two things, being empathetic and being humble. As a leader, you need to recognise people are all individuals with different needs and lives which can sometimes impact on their daily work. When you can empathise with people and build trusted and respectful relationships with them, you can move mountains.

To run a successful business you need people to help you do that. I believe in leading by example and recognise how important it is to make people feel appreciated. It’s all too easy to sit behind a desk all day and disconnect with your team, but a humble leader will glean more from people. Never forget where you came from, how you got there and who helped you along the way. Treat everyone with respect.

What are you doing daily to ensure your growth and development continues as a leader?

I try to focus on engagement. People are the driving force behind my business and so it is important to me to ensure that my team is engaged and happy. I wear many hats from cleaner to party planner and care professional but I always want to make sure they are happy, feeling passionate about what they are doing and enjoy coming to work. I pride myself on getting to know everyone so that I can chat to them about their interests, from Love Island to American politics or pets, everyone likes to be heard.

We also have a great system in place for peer feedback and I welcome thoughts on the business too in the form of ‘Bright Ideas’. It is wonderful to hear the lovely things they say about each other and most importantly, everyone has a voice and at times these thoughts have led to new innovations within our business and helped me develop as a leader

I am humbled by how much they care and because they are all so unique and individual, I am constantly learning new ways to manage people and how to handle different situations. I learn something new from them all the time and they really keep me on my toes.

What advice would you give a new employee going into a leadership position for the first time?

Keep your eyes open and listen. It’s not necessarily important to set out how you work. First and foremost you need to listen. Get to know your team, understand their issues needs and wants. Your role is to support, drive and encourage them, so what they think, feel and have to say is an absolute priority for you to be successful in your role.

Remind yourself of what is important to you in the workplace including your own ethics and ensure your team know how much you respect those things.  My personal ethics ensure that I respect my team’s personal life and work-life balance. I treat them like adults, trust them and give them a level of autonomy. I respect their opinions and where feasible,   will attempt to implement their ideas.

Don’t start like a bull in a china shop and throw your weight around. There are subtle ways to ensure your authority is respected, I find empathy, availability and transparency far more effective and emotive.  Many new managers make the mistake of ‘showing their team who is boss’ but this approach will just antagonize some and isolates others from you.

What’s your motto in life?

Treat people as you want to be treated. Because I live like this I am fortuitous to have an amazing team I consider family, a caring and beautiful friendship group, partner and family. How you treat other people resembles the rest of life, you truly do get out what you put in.

What’s your mindset anthem – the song that is always guaranteed to pump you up?

I don’t need an anthem to be pumped up. I am the opposite and prefer to listen to audiobooks to silence my mind. I am quite creative and my mind is always searching for innovation, so more often than not I look for ways to calm my thoughts. For over thinkers, an audiobook really is a fantastic distraction tool.

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