I was reminded today of the importance of honest and raw integrity and the importance of serving others. I have had the privilege to hear many people speak about leadership in my life, some leave you with an image or phase that really resonates and some with a feeling of authenticity and purpose. Sometimes you get the box and dice, as I did this morning listening to an aged care leader talk about herself, her philosophy and the things that make her a great leader.
The recent four corners expose has left many involved in the sector in a difficult position – evidenced by the fact that not many would go on air to provide a commentary from a service providers point of view. But this leader did – eloquently and without fear and for 13 minutes no less! She expressed the views that many who care for older people have – we are not without fault or failure. However, this caring business is also resplendent with joy, love, compassion, care, competence and countless examples of staff and management providing evidence informed and better practise. It is unacceptable to have one failure of trust and care for any older or vulnerable person full stop. Countless reports and reviews have also reiterated this point but a succession of political leaders cherry picking recommendations and baulking at a sustainable ageing strategy that is financed appropriately has left us rudderless. This fact is, ironically, magnified by the number of peak or representative bodies who respond to each new report or crisis – there is no united voice in aged care and the only voice that represented the voice of service providers on the 4 corners report was not legitimate or representative of leaders in this sector. I wish they had asked this woman for her views.
This morning, the question this true aged care leader asked a group of about 100 managers and influencers is ‘hands up if you have failed in your career’. An honest bunch – every hand went up. “So, you are all failures” she declared excitedly. Once the nervous laughter abated, she asked who had got over the failure with the love and support of others and up went the hands again. Her message was simple – the aged care sector is being scrutinised (which we are very used to) but the relentlessness of stories of abuse and mismanagement is frightening the community – especially older people and their families who are trying to walk through the quagmire of issues associated with someone’s ageing. She deputised each person in the audience to become the spokespeople – or rabble rousers in her words – for change and recovery. And they will – because of her authenticity and status as a leader. She is someone who understands and promotes the bartering of goodwill. She gives, relentlessly, to many. She does so with no expectation of recognition but the trophy cabinet at her aged care home is rather crowded, to put it mildly. She feels, deeply – saying to the audience that life has so much meaning that it sometimes overwhelms her and it comes out her eyes! She loves her people and understands the inexorable link between the love she gives and creates for staff and how that flows straight onto her residents. She talked about connecting instead of networking and of joining people like the stars in the sky to imagine something wonderful.
This leader talked about others not believing in her and how she did not let that stop her because her passion and intelligence always wins and my heart sang a little louder!
So thank you to this wonderful leader – I am in no way connected to her or employed by her (but that would be my dream job) so I can legitimately say it was a privilege to hear her today!