Back in 2000, Jan Flawn set up P J Care based on her commitment to provide specialised, high quality care to vulnerable residents with complex needs. Her decision to step away from nursing to become an entrepreneur - so she could offer the best care possible - was recognised in 2014 when Jan was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. She’s also the overall winner of the Forward Ladies National Awards 2016, so we caught up with her for a quick chat to see what’s the secret to her success.
How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
After working for the NHS for over 30 years trying to bring about changes that would benefit the patients I decided to leave my senior role within the Department of Health to start my own care business where I could provide an environment and skilled nurses that could provide the care that the patients needed and deserved.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best parts of my role is meeting and working with so many inspirational and motivated people. The worst is arrogant men who cannot engage with me as a business woman but are happy to talk to me about their children.
Can you give us examples of any common stereotypes you come across as a successful female leader?
Patronising male bankers who basically patted me symbolically on the head and told me that I was just a nurse and knew nothing about business and should go back to wearing me nurses uniform.
Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life? How and why does this person impact your life?
My Director of Nursing David Coombs who understood my frustrations and encouraged me through mentorship to further my skills to do an MBA and become more aware of how the NHS worked or actually did not work.
What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organisation?
Making time to actually listen to employees at whatever level and having to quickly rearrange my diary to achieve this. I strongly believe that if a member of staff wants to talk to you that they should have my time first.
How do you maintain your and your team's daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
Transparent communication at all levels and maintaining an open door for all employees.
What is most important to you and your organisation – mission, vision, or core values? Why?
Core values - ours are Care Compassion and Commitment. These apply to our customers and employees. By caring showing commitment and compassion as an employer our employees pass this on to our customers and so the core values become embedded throughout the company.
What advice would you give a new employee going into a leadership position for the first time?
Get to know your team before trying to bring in any changes. Look for what inspires and motivates them. Look at their team dynamics – how they interact with each other and learn their alliances. Most importantly what they dislike. Do not try to be best friends with team members as a team leader they are looking for respect from you before they will give you their respect.
What are the most useful resources that you would recommend to someone looking to gain a better perspective into becoming a better leader?
There are some very good training courses – one I strongly recommend is ‘The inadvertent Saboteur.’ It is about being self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.
What are the most lacking traits among the leaders today?
Time to listen – not being aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
What is the most important characteristic that every leader should possess?
Time to listen – to observe – and not to be judgemental.
What are the most pressing challenges that leaders are facing today? And why?
Not believing they have the time to spend with their team. Why – because they sometimes lack confidence in their own abilities and believing they cannot say NO to their line managers.
What are you most proud of?
Receiving a CBE for the work I do.
When you’re considering partnering with another person or business, what factors are deal-breakers for you?
I do not recommend partnering with another business. If you do ensure that your partnership agreement is rock solid and enables you to exit if the partnership is not working. Partnerships have a high incidence of failing.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Borrowing my first £750,000 to start my business.
What are your current goals?
To complete succession planning
If you were to introduce me to one person, who would it be…?
I know so many wonderful inspirational women I would want to introduce you to them all.
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