Morven Lean, a Charityworks 2015 trainee working as a Clinical Systems Support Analyst at Keech Hospice Care, discusses the role of the 5Cs in leadership, with contributions from CEO Liz Searle.
As part of the selection process for the Charityworks graduate programme, we were asked to give a presentation on one of the Five Cs that make up the Charityworks ethos; Conscious, Curious, Challenged, Change and Connected. As these behaviours are believed to be demonstrated by good leaders in the sector, they drive the way the Charityworks programme is delivered. I did well to pass the task, however, I accidentally gave my presentation on ‘Communication’, which turned out not to be one of the chosen Cs (although I did try my hardest to persuade the interviewers that it ought to be!).
Three months into my placement at Keech Hospice Care, I think it is necessary to reflect on my own impressions of leadership in the sector. Are the Five Cs evident amongst the leaders here, or should we be prioritising other qualities associated with different leadership styles?
The very first email I received at Keech was the weekly blog from Liz Searle, our CEO. Her blog has something for everyone, and its regular pace and rhythm portrays Liz’s leadership style. Besides her terrible jokes, I read about achievements being celebrated by individuals across the hospice, upcoming events, and most importantly, what kind of cake she would be making for her son’s birthday! Being able to visualise how our leaders are at home allows us to feel more relaxed around them and knowing that we look forward to the same things creates a connection. Liz’s blog is somewhat eccentric, and through sharing jokes and recipes, she has connected with people whom she may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
Securing senior roles remains a challenge for women across the board. Liz observes that unlike her, women who succeed in senior roles tend to come from finance backgrounds: “Interviewees tend to be looking for authority, whereas women talk about ambiguity”. Accepting ambiguity can be difficult, but if people can trust in you, being curious and not always knowing the answer is OK. Liz says “The real challenge is in building trust. When we have trust and faith in someone, it’s all right for them not to know the answer.”
“How does someone deal with so many issues without taking everyone’s problems on board?” Our CEO admits that for a lot of us, in particular women, “our emotional resilience needs building”. Like many other organisations with conscious leaders, we have incorporated ‘mindful’ leadership practices at Keech, with the mental health of our employees at the forefront. Our complementary therapist, Roger Kelly, delivers a six week ‘Mindfulness’ course for staff and volunteers, helping us to focus our awareness on the present moment and feel more relaxed.
Liz visualises a path connecting the work of the organisation with the care received by our beneficiaries, “a golden thread linking systems, people and ideas.” Liz is motivated by change, and thinks realistically about how to encourage others to make a difference. “We must connect to our vision and values. We can’t expect to make a change with a disconnect in the golden thread.” To ensure change happens, we need to employ individuals with common values and build a vision together.
There we have it! The five Cs are in action at Keech. I’m looking forward to finding out if these qualities really are the recipe to successful leadership, and I encourage you to analyse the qualities demonstrated by leaders in your own organisations and make your own decisions on what makes a good leader.