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The Podcast Interview: The Unwritten Rules of Women's Leadership

In this podcast interview with the brilliant Helen Appleby of the Unwritten Rules of Women's Leadership, I share an anecdote from my early career of why I was totally unsuited to Social Work.

Even though I am a people person and love working in teams, that didn’t translate to being great at Social Work. It was not the clients that I struggled with (despite having to deal with some harrowing circumstances), but how much I upset my colleagues when I used my systems thinking to overhaul our case allocation process.

When I created a visual performance board, which showed each social worker’s caseload and brought in a red, amber, green system for weighing up critical caseloads, I was applying what were my natural organising tendencies to make order out of chaos.

For the social workers in this particular field team it was greeted with anger and resistance. Suddenly I had brought transparency to something that had been the preserve of individual social workers to define. Not only did it immediately show that the overloaded social workers were the first to volunteer to take on new cases, but that those with the lightest caseloads were shying away from taking new work. I learned a lot about social work, but more importantly I learnt a lot about myself and the type of work that would suit me. Clearly Social Work was not in my long term career plans, but the seeds of a more fulfilling career lay in this difficult and challenging experience.

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