The housing sector should embrace modern leadership thinking and strive for greater efficiencies if it wants to attract and retain the right talent, says Gradvert Leadership and Management Coach Alan Shaw.
The social housing sector has faced many challenges over recent years. From regulation, to financial pressures and mergers, it has been a period of significant change for many organisations.
And this uncertainty has had a knock-on effect when it comes to attracting the right calibre of talent, according to a top expert.
Gradvert Leadership and Management coach Alan Shaw has worked with a number of housing associations over his career and says the sector is now at a crossroads and needs to take the opportunity to reshape and modernise its way of working to avoid future talent shortages.
“Changes cause confusion and issues around attracting talent, especially talent that is more commercially experienced,” said Alan.
“There is a lot of potential in the housing sector but the main challenge is the reputation of the sector and whether it’s seen as an attractive proposition to encourage the right type of talent.
“Across the board, people need to think much more innovatively and creatively to attract the best talent.
“We need to see modern leadership, good succession planning and a strategic talent mapping framework that attracts the top candidates from across the UK.”
One client Alan recently helped is Broadacres, a successful and innovative not for profit housing association based in North Yorkshire.
The company currently owns and manages more than 6000 homes across Yorkshire with the vision of making ‘a real difference to people’s lives’.
Broadacres strive to maintain its homes to the highest standard so that customers ultimately say they are proud to live in a Broadacres’ home. Broadacres wanted to develop the leadership skills within their senior manager teams. They were particularly keen to develop their senior managers in a way that did not repeat academic theories used in previous management training implemented in the business.
Instead, they wanted their managers to understand how they could use their influence within the business as leaders and the positive results this can generate.
Alan delivered an ‘Emerging Leaders’ programme which consisted of a blended approach of practical experience, coaching and reflection.
This allowed delegates to fully reflect on and implement their leadership skills within the business and help Broadacres achieve its mission.
Alan also reinforced the importance of working as a collective team of leaders and that challenges within the organisation should be faced together and not as individuals.
The ‘Emerging Leaders’ programme helped the senior managers within the organisation to really understand the true values of the business and also increased their confidence to take responsibility and consistently strive to improve their services.
It is this type of emphasis on modern leadership that Alan feels could help the housing sector become a more attractive proposition for emerging talent.
“The sector really needs strong, transformational leadership,” he said. “It needs to ensure everyone from top-level executives and trustees to non-executive directors are really equipped with current and future leadership thinking.
“The housing sector needs leaders who are clear on purpose and who have the right skills and qualities to act to drive transformational change.
“There are a lot of fabulous leaders in housing, but it’s not widespread. We need dynamic leaders in housing who can think and act both commercially and socially and truly understand the company’s values.
“The sector is really at a crossroads with its identity and image and where it goes next in terms of leadership and attracting and retaining talent so now is a great time to take the opportunity to make these important transformational changes.”