The writer and leadership expert, Robin Sharma said that ‘anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best leadership is when the plan falls apart’.  Around 19 months ago, life changed for all of us when the current pandemic started, and although we still had in place our plans to support people with a learning disability, it felt a little like parts of the plan fell apart. We were faced with all kinds of challenges: what could we do that was safe? What could we support people to do that was safe? How could we keep each other safe? What could we do when people’s routines had to change? Where would we get the PPE from? How could we keep each other up to date with the ever-changing guidance around keeping each other safe? All of this presented a challenge to us as leaders when it felt like things were falling apart. We had to rise to the challenge despite the huge impact on our work and personal lives.

The situation we have found ourselves in has held a magnifying glass up to our ability as leaders. Lazarus Takawira said that crisis is a good revealer of great leadership. The crisis we have found ourselves in has shown what amazing leaders we are at all levels. MDs have led and consulted with their Senior management teams; information has been shared with the teams out there supporting people; dialogue has been struck up that has moved backwards and forwards in order to ensure we do the best we can for each other whilst sticking within the guidelines.

Where there have been cases of people catching the virus, there have been instances where staff have cancelled their annual leave; people have stayed at addresses in order to reduce the numbers (who might increase risk); managers have worked alongside staff teams; our amazing Support Workers have shown leadership in supporting each other, coming up with creative ideas to replace activities and routines suddenly stopped by rapidly imposed legislation. Our Support Workers have inspired each other and the leaders who lead them.

Many people we support have inspired those paid to support them by debunking predictions about how they might react to such sudden changes to their lives and routines. People we support showed their leadership in showing us all how to adapt to change; how to remain calm; how to face our own emotions; how to have a can-do attitude when things looked hard to achieve.

John F Kennedy said that there are two parts to crisis: danger and opportunity, and that in a crisis we need to be aware of the danger and recognise the opportunity. We should be proud that have recognised the danger, and seized opportunities. Due to technology, we are talking more than ever, and we have become readily available to each other. We have shown each other what we can do in a crisis and how we have responded calmly and positively. We have all shown and continue to show our leadership when it looked like the plan might fall apart.

Justin Smith

Operational Manager and Registered Manager

PBS Coach and PROACT SCIPr-UK® Instructor

Thera East Anglia