A line manager and her employee share a coffee and have a chat

Collective & compassionate leadership in social care

Published: 07/11/22 | Categories: Information & support, Author: Rebecca Cicero

Rebecca Cicero, Improvement and Development Manager at Social Care Wales, talks about the importance of compassionate leadership and developing a cross-sector programme for social care leaders.

**Updated 6 December 2022: The collective and compassionate leadership programme is now open for expressions of interest. Find out if you’re eligible by reading the criteria statement and email admin@leaderfulaction.com to register your interest.**

You may have heard the term compassionate leadership a lot lately. They’re two familiar words, but what do they really mean? In essence, compassionate leadership is about creating a kind and supportive culture in our organisations. Working in social care, whether you are a volunteer, a social worker, a support worker or a care home manager, can be both rewarding and demanding. When we spend our lives supporting others, we need to feel listened to and supported ourselves. That’s what compassionate leadership is all about.

Sometimes we describe compassionate leadership behaviours as a compass. Our own internal compass that we use to check on how we are leading and managing people day to day. There are four key behaviours which make up that compass. They are:

  • Attending – to those we lead means being present with them. It requires that we ‘listen with fascination’ to those we lead.
  • Helping – to ensure there’s a good path for those we lead to achieve their goals by removing the obstacles or providing the resources and support to help them deliver high quality care.
  • Understanding – is dependent on listening deeply. It requires that we take the time to listen in order to understand the challenges that those we lead face in their work.
  • Empathising – Is feeling the strains, pains, anxieties and frustrations of those we lead without being overwhelmed by those feelings. This then gives leaders the motivation to help or serve those we lead.


So why is this important? A good, supportive and compassionate manager will have a positive effect on their staff’s wellbeing. We’re more likely to continue working for an organisation that values and support us. But it’s more than that. How we feel in work directly impacts on the people we support. We provide better quality care to others when we feel valued and cared for.

And, if you’re a manager, this applies to you too. We need to care for ourselves and practice self compassion. We’re only human and we need to be kinder to ourselves.

It’s been a difficult few years for us all. We’re all here because we want help people live the best life they can, to do what matters to them. The third and voluntary sector is a key piece of the social care jigsaw. We’re a complicated sector, with many different people, services and organisations. What ties us together are our values and our collective vision. To help support that, we’re developing a new leadership programme, centred on the values of compassionate leadership.


This new programme is aimed at senior leaders in social care, to help build collective and compassionate leadership in the sector. The programme is targeted at

  • Heads of social services in local authorities
  • Senior roles in the voluntary and third sector, such as regional operational managers or deputy directors

The programme is aimed at those with a mix of strategic responsibilities, such as implementing policy, strategies and legislation, and operational responsibility for leading a number of different teams or services in social care.

For the third and voluntary sector, this could be a regional operational manager, a director or chief executive or their deputy. As long as you are responsible for working with local authorities to deliver a social care service, including preventative services, the programme is aimed at you.


The purpose of the programme is to:

  • Provide senior leaders with opportunities to work together across boundaries
  • Support leaders to understand and develop their leadership styles

The aims of the programme are

  • Improved awareness and insight of roles across the sector
  • Learning and sharing from practice
  • Supporting and developing relationships across senior leadership
  • Collective understanding and vision of the principles of compassionate leadership
  • Improved resilience in senior leadership roles


We would welcome the views of anyone who may be eligible for the programme, or managing people who may be eligible, on what would work best. We want to make sure this programme is relevant to you, so we greatly appreciate your views.

You can share your thoughts on our survey. Alternatively, you can join us for an online workshop to help shape the programme on 23 November 2022 at 1 pm – 2.30 pm.

So let’s continue to work together to make this real, to make every workplace feel safe, welcoming and caring. You are valued and you matter.


If you’re not sure if this is for you, please do contact us for a chat by e-mailing kimdarkin@leaderfulaction.com or rebecca.cicero@socialcare.wales.

You can read more about compassionate leadership here.