Embedding kindness in everything we do

In this month’s article, we spoke to Andrew Rose, Director and co-owner of AKA Case Management. He recently took part in a six-week Kindful Leadership Course, and we were interested in learning more about the course and how it will help him and the company.

Can you tell us about your background and current role?

I began my career as a university psychology lecturer before moving into brain injury case management. I then moved to Australia as a Senior Clinical Consultant and worked with the most complex clients who exhibited severe behaviours of concern.

AKA Case Management was founded in 2002 by Angela Kerr, who I joined in 2017 as Operations Manager. In 2021, Angela decided to sell the company, and Dawn Abernathy and I had the opportunity to take ownership. In addition, I am an active member of BABICM, as Chair of the Company Strategy Group and IRCM Registration Group member. I have also recently been accepted as a panel member for the IRCM.

I remember a conversation many years ago with my mentor, David Manchester. He said, ‘he had found that if you want to change behaviour and culture, you must control finance and budgets.’ As a co-owner of AKA, I can now influence behaviour and culture in the company. I consider Dawn Abernathy and I as custodians; we can ensure that the positive culture thrives and best practice is embedded in everything we do.

Can you tell us about the Kindful Leadership Course?

When I heard about the course, I felt it was perfect for me at a personal level and for the company, as this is the type of leadership I believe in and want to deliver. We are already ‘kind’ in our approach to each other, but I want us to get better at it and make sure it’s truly embedded in the culture.

There is also the potential to take the learning out into the broader world by taking it into my role in BABICM as a Director and into the BABICM council. Hopefully, this can lead to a ripple effect across the sector.

The course allowed me to work with an online community exploring the role of kindness in leadership – and how together we can perpetuate more kindness in our organisations. There were eight fundamental principles that we learned about. One of these was ‘kindness starts with you’.

Most people who work in our sector do so because they care about others and want to make a difference in the lives of the people they work with.

It’s common for us to forget about ourselves. When I started this course, I realised that I had forgotten about myself. I have been on a journey to learn how to be kind to myself so I can be the best version of myself, which ultimately impacts everyone else that I work with.

It was interesting that recently, at a company meeting, one of the case managers, Jo Sims, asked us, ‘I’d just like to know that everything you do for everybody else, how do you as directors make sure that you guys are content and happy? I wanted to make sure that you haven’t forgotten about yourselves.’

It touched me that one of my team cared enough to ask a question like this. My answer was, ’I’m working on it.’ I have been on a personal journey over the past year.  I was too busy to think about myself. Now I have realised it’s essential to be kind to myself.

I have mentioned Jo’s question to the others on the Kindful Leadership Course and with my coach. In both places, they immediately highlighted what a vulnerable question this was to ask, how this was a great demonstration of the organisation’s culture, and how it showed true psychological safety. My coach, Sharon Baker, stated, ‘Your people value you – its support and challenge in equal measure, which is the equation for growth. I feel proud that at AKA, we have created a culture that allows everyone to feel comfortable to express their concern for each other.

How will the Kindful Leadership Course impact others in the company?

As with any other company, we continuously improve how we work and ensure that we are kind to ourselves and others. We have had several initiatives we have been working on over the past few years, and we have more to come.

We started with implementing the 4-day week; this ensures that everyone takes time out to put themselves first. Some are better at doing this than others. We are all getting better at planning our workload and ensuring that we do something special for ourselves when we are not at work.

The second area of improvement is having that shared language and communication, so everyone is on board and feels that they have an equal contribution, voice, and opinion. It is important to us that everyone realises that they are valuable at AKA, not just the directors.

We recently ran a breath course for all the team. They were able to take part every morning over four weeks. We received good feedback about the course and are now looking at a way to implement ongoing breath coach sessions so this becomes part of their daily routine.

We plan to run some training sessions on delegation and giving feedback. Learning how to delegate in a kind and equitable way is essential.

Equally, it’s important to learn how to give feedback in a genuine way. It’s not about always trying to be ‘nice’. If there is a performance issue, feedback is provided in a way that helps the person understand the impact it has had on others and their work.

Finally, to be effective and productive at work, we must work smarter and look after ourselves. We need to plan our day, eat well and sleep well. Therefore, next year, we are planning to run a sleep workshop for the team to attend.

Ultimately, our philosophy and ethos are about putting meaning back into the lives of individuals who have suffered traumatic injuries. By creating a culture within our team that is kind, positive and productive, we can better help ourselves, our clients and our partners.