25 Jul 2022

Effective leadership with the CIH professional standards

It is over 20 years since I was chief executive of the housing sector skills council, Housing Potential UK. In that role I was responsible for vocational standards which were the building blocks for all housing qualifications. It was a rather mechanistic and technocratic approach so I was interested to see what the new CIH professional standards would offer. To be honest I was not massively optimistic. On reading I was more than pleasantly surprised, the new standards dealt not only with the work housing professionals were expected to do but also the ethical standards underpinning our activities.

It struck me that there was a coherence between the CIH professional standards and Elim Housing’s ‘CARES’ Values. I decided to map the standards against our values and presented this to our board. It helped to demonstrate the importance of CIH qualifications to the organisation and to sense check Elim’s values against the wider standard. We are certainly planning for more of our colleagues to access CIH qualifications as a result of this synergy and we have significantly increased our training budget to support this.

As we have emerged from the pandemic lockdowns, we also started our programme of leadership and management training across the organisation. Something which we didn’t feel could be effectively delivered remotely, there is something incredibly important about being together in a room to share views, experiences, and learning. This training is based upon the Chartered Management Institute Level 7 and Level 5 curriculum. When we briefed the trainers we provided information on the professional standards with a request that they were integrated into the training modules.

The leadership team have now all completed the course, and we are now starting the next round with all the managers in the association. Incorporating the CIH standards into the curriculum has helped to show the relevance of a housing approach to management and leadership, providing a sector context. It also demonstrates the continuing value of having a professional body to organisations like Elim. While the descriptor of a ‘chartered institute’ has an element of stuffiness, the value it has in its ability to articulate the work we do in the modern context keeps it fresh and the professional standards root us back into an ethical framework which recent media and social media campaigns have shown to be so important but easy to lose touch with.

I am hopeful that our management cohort will be enthused to join or re-join the CIH and play their part not just in Elim but in the profession as a whole.

Written by Paul Smith

Paul Smith is the chief executive of Elim Housing Association, a smaller association based in the south west providing a broad mix of general needs housing, supported provision for people who are threatened with homelessness and members of the Gypsy, Roma and Travelling communities. Paul has worked in housing for over 30 years (despite being only 25) including as the CEO of the Sector Skills Council for the sector Housing Potential UK.