Welcome to PA’s 12 ‘Festive Leadership Lessons’ Advent Calendar! Over 12 days in the lead up to the 2019 festive season, we wanted to share our thoughts on leadership, and offer 12 lessons on what being a leader and leadership means to us at PA.

Traditionally, being a leader has meant ‘being in charge’ or ‘dictating what, where and how people do things’. But that definition is as old as your Nan’s black and white TV. In this new era of the Aged Care Industry we will need a new style of leadership where everyone is a leader, not just those at the top.

This year, the industry has been faced with so many challenges: proposed changes to funding, legislation, the beginning of a Royal Commission, media and public opinion and an uncertain future with the new Accreditation standards and a new Quality and Safety Commission. To us, leadership is something we all possess, and in the face of these challenges, we can all be a leader.

Welcome to our 12 festive leadership lessons!



The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome – Brené Brown

Vulnerability has often been associated with a weakness. We disagree! We’re big Brené Brown fans at PA, and she has taught us that courage can’t come without vulnerability. Being vulnerable shows strength and is incredibly brave. We often wear an armour to protect ourselves in the workplace however, especially in Aged Care, we’re in an arena where daily we must take off the armour and be truly vulnerable to make real change & impact. Talking and trying to change something you’re passionate about is one arena that is scary and requires you to be brave, and therefore embrace vulnerability. But holding back isn’t actually helpful to anyone.

Challenge: Identify an area of your life where you’d like to be braver. At work, with a friend, with a cause you’re passionate about. Now – think about what gets in the way of you being brave in that arena. How will you embrace vulnerability to overcome these things to step up, be brave and be seen?



Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B – Sheryl Sandburg

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity. We all face difficulties and challenges in our lives, as a result, our resilience can be impacted. At Provider Assist we love the idea that we enact our Option B when Option A hasn’t worked. This philosophy helps us be more resilient and bounce back when things haven’t gone the way we may have wanted. You can also help others in these times – you never really know what is going on in someone else’s world. Just remember to show your support to people in challenging situations, we often live in fear we will say the wrong thing but staying silent can make us or someone, feel more isolated. Just letting people know you are here and happy to sit in the mess with someone can go a long way.

Challenge – If you know someone going through a rough time this holiday season – reach out to them and be there for them. You don’t need to fix anything for them – just sitting with them in their stress or sadness or grief is the greatest gift.



If you want to feel happy, do something for yourself. If you want to feel fulfilled, do something for someone else – Simon Sinek

We work in the business of caring for others, and there can be no greater fulfilment caring for others; however, it is also so important that we care for ourselves first and foremost. Like when you’re on a plane – you’re told to pop your own oxygen mask on first. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept, in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Just make sure you know that self-care isn’t a selfish act; it is actually a fundamental need. If we’re not the best version of ourselves, how can we provide the care we want to, to others?

Challenge – write a list of self-care activities that you would enjoy so when you get a moment, you’re ready to rock’n’roll! We asked around the office for some inspo. Some activities that came up were a lovely bath, a swim in the ocean, a walk-in nature, stretching and even just taking some deep breaths!



Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it – Sharon Saltzberg

A huge part of personal leadership is the ability to make decisions with a clear mind. There is no questioning we live in a busy world, always connected, thanks to technology making our minds very busy. A busy mind can impact wellness & happiness, so practicing mindfulness helps us live our best version of ourselves, enabling us to contemplate situations objectively before taking action, making for more level-headed leadership. Mindfulness involves bringing yourself back to the present moment and having a conscious awareness of something. It is, however, often thought you need to sit on a mountain top to do this, but we can assure you that isn’t the case. You can do this through your everyday walking, eating or just having a quiet moment.

Challenge: Start now – challenge yourself to sit and have a mindful moment, you may be surprised what ‘ah-ha’ moment you have. If you need some tips – we at PA LOVE the Headspace app.



Great things are done by a series of small things brought together – Van Gogh

We often look at things as one huge outcome and get overwhelmed with how we’re going to achieve it and great things sometimes end up in the ‘too hard basket’. This could not be truer in our industry right now with the momentous job ahead of us. What we need to do is break things down into a series of small little projects or milestones and have a focus on completing a small project rather than just the big lofty goal at the end. Small bite size progress can be made and that allows you to adjust your plan along the way. This will mean it’s much easier to bring people along on the journey.

Challenge: Think about a change you want to make in your facility. What’s the very first teeny tiny step to achieving that? Just do that…then afterwards sit back, reflect and plan your next move.



Strength lies in differences, not in similarities – Stephen Covey

It is so wonderful to see the focus on diversity and inclusion in the new Aged Care Quality Standards. It is a given why we need to be kind, caring and respectful of each person’s identity, culture and diversity. However, it is even better when we understand that diversity brings new ideas and ways of doing things. Even though a diverse team can bring many robust and challenging conversations, those conversations lead to innovation and big thinking and incredible outcomes. We live in a truly diverse world and need to focus on how we embrace those different to us and harness the power of a diverse team.

Challenge – Push yourself to find someone different to you and include them in something you’re working on – Magic will happen!



There is absolutely no innovation without failure – Brené Brown

One of Provider Assist’s values is Do More, Fail More, Learn More, Be Awesome! At PA, we love to celebrate our failures because from our biggest failures we have had our biggest learnings. Particularly in the accreditation space right now – it’s new, there’ll be lots of things that we can do better and probably lots of things you try that don’t go quite according to plan.

Challenge – next time something doesn’t quite go according to plan, don’t beat yourself up – stop, reflect and ask your yourself ‘what went well?’ and ‘even better if?’. Then celebrate yourself for embracing the failure and taking a nice big lesson from it.



Done is better than perfect – Sheryl Sandberg

From a young age, it is often drilled into us the idea of striving for perfection, and in the workplace, perfect can be a progress killer. When it comes to innovation, we can procrastinate on getting things done in a quest for perfection. Our advice is to throw the idea of ‘perfect’ out and just start on something. Have a great idea to improve something at your facility? Why not just get started, pull your idea together and start sharing it and collaborating with your team, so your residents start benefiting sooner. Don’t wait for your idea to be fully cooked before you start sharing it.

Challenge – Get Cracking! A working draft of something is a great way to collaborate and get feedback to refine, don’t be scared that people will judge it’s not perfect. Get a start on your ideas before it’s too late.



How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable? – Seth Godin

Dare to be remarkable is a way of working at Provider Assist. We define remarkable as a standard of unexpected exceptional quality that people can’t help but notice and feel inspired to rave about! Being remarkable is brave and sometimes scary. This, however, is what the Aged Care industry needs right now – ordinary people like us to stand up and be remarkable.

Challenge – We encourage you to deeply understand your purpose in the world and the purpose of your organisation. When your purpose connects with the work you do, then inspiration, happiness, and being remarkable follow.



I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel – Maya Angelou

The best leaders are those that can problem solve from the point of empathy. Truly entering someone’s frame of reference and walking in their shoes to understand the emotions underpinning that person’s experience rather than just assuming what could be happening, is where power change and leadership occurs. Empathy is a skill that can be learnt and developed, although it is not to be confused with sympathy. Empathy is when you understand the emotions of another but not necessarily share them, which is critical in Aged Care.

Challenge – next time someone comes to you with a problem to solve, ask lots of questions and actively listen to someone’s views to truly understand what is happening for them.



It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin

Adaptability is to be said the #1 skill needed to survive the future of work. Change is inevitable and constant for the Aged Care Industry requires us to be able to adapt and change. Without being able to adapt to changing circumstances we can’t grow, evolve and move forward. Remember – just because we’ve always done something in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s still the right way to do it. Think outside the box! Push yourself to approach something completely different out of your day to day by taking a chance on a bold idea.



Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another – John C. Maxwell  

The term leadership is often associated with those in a management position, however, we disagree! And we’re in good company – Brené Brown says “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

Set a goal in 2020 to flex your leadership muscles by taking the lead on something in your facility or organisation. Remember, start small!

Over these 12 lessons we’ve explored non-traditional definitions of being a leader, and how we can all be a leader no matter what challenges we face. As we move into the new decade, we hope that with your newfound expanded knowledge on leadership you will continue to make more of an impact on people living in care, and encourage others to shine.



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