Friday, 11 March 2016

Reflecting and moving forward; Leadership Development Advisors’ Prototype Debrief

This week we hosted the first prototype debrief session, where we spent the day reflecting on the Firstline programme with our Leadership Development Advisors (LDAs).

The Leadership Development Advisors work closely with Firstline Leaders on a one-to-one basis, to challenge thinking, stimulate creativity, and provide tools and techniques to equip the managers to be even stronger social work leaders. The group of ten LDAs are from a diverse background within children’s social care, coaching and systemic practice, and all bring something different to the table in terms of expertise.  They have been pivotal in supporting and challenging Firstline Leaders in their learning throughout the programme.

Reflection and thoughts

The day kicked off with an open discussion on reflections from the programme. We were joined by researchers from the Centre for Child and Family Research from Loughborough University, who are evaluating the Firstline prototype.

Throughout the day LDAs took part in one-to-one interviews, in which they described each Firstline Leaders’ learning from the programme and how they use this learning in their day to day roles. We also spoke to LDAs in groups based around the local authorities in which they worked. In these discussions they reflected on the reactions and impacts the prototype had generated within each organisation. A whole group discussion then provided an opportunity for the LDAs to reflect together on all their experiences with the Firstline Leaders. 

A passion for learning

The atmosphere throughout the day was similar to the one which was present amongst the Firstline Leaders during the final residential; a feeling of passion for learning, a sense of achievement for what the Firstline Leaders have already accomplished, and excitement about the change that is yet to come as a result of the Firstline Leaders’ hard work and drive to make a difference in social work.

Respect for the Social Work profession

A set of common themes evolved over the day and LDAs identified that the Firstline Leaders have found the programme has not only had an impact on them in terms of their professional development – but has also increased their sense of pride in the social work profession. By working closely with a group of like-minded individuals and refocusing on their motivation and values they have left the programme feeling refreshed and reignited. It was apparent from feedback from the LDAs that Firstline Leaders have valued the opportunity to have one to one coaching and have practised their learning throughout the programme.

The themes identified by the LDAs highlighted the importance of the social work profession being valued and LDAs unanimously agreed that:

‘Social work managers display an enormous amount of courage, resilience and resourcefulness. It is a challenging job and it is hard work to keep going, and they do so, day in and day out. We need to recognise this and ensure the message is heard.’

Now that the Firstline Leaders are reaching the end of the programme, we have been hearing stories about how they are implementing their learning from the programme in their local authorities.  
As one of the Leadership Development Advisors commented:

Firstline Leaders are excited in the different way of thinking that has developed from the programme, and are really excited about the possibilities for the future.”

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