Julie is a Team Manager, Cambridgeshire County Council and was nominated by Ella Waughman.
Julie has been the Huntingdon Older People’s Team manager since January 2019, having previously been a senior social worker within the team. Even before stepping up to be team manager, Julie embodied attitude and skills of this role so a move to lead the team seemed such a natural fit. Julie brings a vast knowledge base of experience, practice, theory and legislation to the job but also a naughty sense of humour. It is this balance that makes her so charismatic and trustworthy.
Julie has been able to negotiate an assertive leadership style without negative connotations of being demanding or inflexible. She is “human”; not detaching herself from the difficulty of the work and appreciating the pressures and challenges of the frontline practitioners. She still manages to remain a strong, pragmatic leader with a huge amount of respect from the team, despite sometimes having to make/deliver difficult decisions. Julie is endlessly generous with her time – patiently listening to her colleagues and offering guidance and teaching. I feel it is this attitude that instigates growth in the team. It is clear how much Julie values learning and development as part of social work.
The team are known for having students and newly qualified social workers; taking time to nurture new skills. Julie pushes her staff and will challenge and test them in a respectful and constructive manner. She has high expectations of her team but also herself – recognising her importance and influence too. She welcomes networking opportunities, organises regularly professional development meetings and encourages training – all with the aim of enhancing practice and sharing ideas for more innovative working.
Julie values her own learning as well; currently enrolled on a leadership course as well as attending regular workshops and training. The team understand that mistakes can be an opportunity to grow. This sense of reflection is something that is not only encouraged, but modelled. The desire to work creatively is clear and Julie is keenly aware of the political and economic backdrop to which social work is happening. Seeking and encouraging new creative ways in which to work. For example, championing community resources and technology support. She is an advocate for positive risk taking and promotes this though a narrative, strength based approach to practice.
The wellbeing of the team is paramount to Julie and always appears so genuinely interested in her staff. This makes her a very nurturing and approachable person, realistic and attuned to the realities of work and personal life. Julie’s ability and skills as a strong team manager are no better exemplified than during the Covid-19 outbreak. In a time of uncertainty, incredible work pressure and anxiety, Julie remained a strong and resilient force. She was able to quickly assimilate the rapidly changing situation and deliver instruction and guidance to the team on a daily basis.
Most importantly, she managed to do so without losing her compassion and humour. Julie is the lifeboat of our team – people find comfort in her knowledge, composure and reassurance. Julie has an endless energy and enthusiasm for the job despite its frustrations and challenges; this attitude is contagious and is able to inspire confidence in all those who work with her. She instils a strong and capable management structure based on clear communication and good working rapport; her approach cascading to the senior social workers below and ultimately therefore to the practitioners on the front line. Julie is everything that I want to be in a social worker and I feel so fortunate to have been part of her team so early in my career.