Q&A with Jackie Sincock: Contemporary Approaches and Kindness in Leadership

Meet Jackie Sincock.

Jackie has spent the best part of 25 years contributing to the health and disability sectors. Her career began on the front line as a registered nurse where she accumulated valuable knowledge and experience and made many lifelong connections, that would later be utilised in leadership roles.

Jackie’s deep love for nursing and caring for others sparked a new career desire, to see more and truly influence the system that she’d been a part of for so long. Jackie decided that her contribution would be felt most in advancing clinical health systems, rather than follow the traditional career progressions of nursing.

Jackie’s acquired skills are a testament to her diverse career in health, and she credits this to the many inspiring people who contributed to her development along the way.

After a long stint in health care, Jackie was presented an opportunity to move into a senior position in the disability sector. Most recently, she was appointed the Quality Manager of NDIS partner and provider, Kudos Services, where she remains today, spending her time supporting professionals to deliver safe, high-quality services in the disability sector.

Jackie shows up every day and leads with kindness and humanity, a trait she is learning is not a sign of weakness – but rather a strength that has value and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jackie Sincock Q&A
Jackie Sincock shares her successes through life and business.

What stands out to you as the proudest moment of your career?

The biggest moments of success are in really tangible projects and a real stand out for me was leading the re-development of the SALHN Endoscopy Unit. I was able to apply my clinical knowledge, leverage my ability to work within a team and to learn a lot about facility development. After a six-year wait, it was a wonderful moment to cut a ribbon on something so important and something that would have a significant benefit to the patient experience. There was so much pride and excitement in all of us.

There is something really subtle that stands out too. I went back to clinical nursing for one day a week after having Mabel, my second child. I was quite nervous about that, as I hadn’t done the work for a while but really wanted to reconnect with it. I loved it, despite being a little slower than I used to be, and I remember sitting down and talking with a patient, and she looked at me and said, “you are the most caring person who has ever worked here”. She thanked me for taking the time to care, and it was just one of those moments. I realised, I did have enough to give, I did have resilience and I was feeling strong.

Most recently, I’m most proud of the team and work we are doing around clinical leadership and quality improvement. I’m currently working directly with Allied Health Clinical Leads and we are developing systems and processes that support therapists through supervision and enhanced client safety. I’m very proud of them and their knowledge, passion and commitment to clients and families.

From a leadership perspective, what are the key values that you look to instil in a workplace?

Trust is absolutely number one.

Working from home right now, we’re all less visible. For me, the team have to know I trust them and vice versa. They have to know that just because we’re not face to face and seeing each other every day, that I trust them to do their work.

The other thing for me is learning and improvement. I love when learning, improvement and development is encouraged by those in leadership. Whether that’s the professional generosity of sharing interesting things you’re reading, sharing new opportunities, or deliberately acting to develop others.

When I think about what good leadership looks like, it’s really not about looking at leadership from a positional or power perspective. For me, some of my best times of exercising my leadership could have been as a second-year registered nurse or as a general manager of operations.

What does good leadership look like to you and how can it be measured?

I feel like I’m on a quest to find, deliver and experience good leadership.

In my early career, there were a lot of people I really looked up to and admired. It was easy to try and find people to emulate, in the way in which they led and communicated. Now, as my view and experience of leadership expands, I am looking more broadly for examples of good leadership.

There are some things that are non-negotiable for me in good leadership. That is relationships first and having the ability to trust and get to know people. Then for me, it’s being curious. As a leader, you don’t always have the answers and that’s okay.

So, how do you then ask questions and bring people into the conversation to gain their perspectives?

Good leadership is also about accountability. It’s so important that you know what you’re working towards, that you get clarity around the work that is expected of you, and then being supported to be able to deliver on it.

What is the role of a leader in changing the way we work – perhaps adapting from traditional work standards to more modern practices? Are there any specific changes that you’d like to see made in future?

I prefer to reframe this and ask what is the role of leadership in changing the way we work? I am not particularly comfortable with the term leader, but rather a leadership as an action, creating the change in the way we work to make things better.

It’s wonderful to see leadership being exercised broadly and beyond the roles we hold. When we see this, space opens up, where people are encouraged and developed to express their leadership and potential. Only good can come from that!

Personally, I lean towards contemporary leadership and management models. I love reading and listening about leadership and development from some of the brightest minds. They give me new perspectives and insights that can be considered, adapted, tested, and applied to my thinking and life at work. My book at the moment is Corporate Rebels: How to Make Work Fun. It’s full of examples of contemporary organisations who are challenging the status quo and achieving and having fun doing it.

Right now, I am working for an organisation that is a Cooperative and Mutual Enterprise (CME). Although this business model is not new, it is growing again in relevance and recognition for being full of new possibilities for work and workplaces.

I think there is something very hopeful about cooperation, mutuality and membership, in increasing employee engagement and influence and shifting the balance of power and decision making while achieving exceptional outcomes for people and communities. CMEs are another opportunity to build work that cares for the people it serves, shares in its profits and cares for the community.

The inclusion of community leadership is also where I’d love to see more change at work. Co-designing with people and communities that have lived experience and diverse views will pay dividends and creates a deeper understanding and connection between work and the community.

How important is it to you to show compassion and kindness to your team in a role of influence and how do you go about this?

I hate the term soft skills, and that kindness and compassion can be seen as soft.

When you show up in a humanist and kind way, it can sometimes be labelled as a soft skill. When really, there is nothing harder than people skills when you’re leading. I believe that the technical stuff can be straight forward, and the real challenge lies with showing up from a humanist perspective. As society evolves, it’s important that our workplaces do to. Work is absolutely a vehicle for developing good people.

When I show up, I like the fact that I can be a human specialist, rather than purely a technical specialist. My career has given me a lot of general skills, but I think my strengths come from building strong connections, working in great teams and uniting people together with a shared cause.

Human services work really is a worthy cause and I want to show up to it as compassionately and kindly as I can, especially working so closely with the people who do the caring. I believe being kind to them and recognising their essential role in the client work helps to deliver better outcomes

What is your advice for leaders during these isolating times, to stay driven and connected to their team?

I’m so grateful to the teams I work with and we already have such a strong connection. I think if I had to try and build this connection from isolation now, it might require a different approach.

You’ve got to put the work in, create the space, and keep communications frequent. Be clear on what people’s requirements are. If you have to lead a team, they have to know what their priorities are and what they need to deliver on. It’s also being accepting of the challenge of holding multiple roles (parents and pet owners, this includes you!) and not trying to apply the same principles or tactics that you would if you were face to face.

We do need to adjust and appreciate that not everything can be translated directly online.

When did Kiikstart come into the picture and what was your experience with Ali like?

Having spent the day with Ali through the Governor’s Leadership Foundation (GLF) Program in 2018, her vibe just resonated with me. She’s quite challenging and contemporary in her view and her approaches. That whole GLF program was about rattling the status quo and moving people out of their comfort zones, and I feel that Ali really did that.

When the time came to look into my own coaching for professional development, Ali was the first to come to mind. She really stood out amongst the other more traditional and corporate choices. Ali asked some challenging and powerful questions, and through these, we explored what it was that I truly needed.

Ali has a unique ability to connect, which has always been a value I admire of those who I work with. She’s very responsive and our relationship always feels like it flows naturally. I also know that there’s a deep foundation of knowledge underneath all of this, in the way in which she supports me or changes direction when I need to change directions.

Ali is also relatable and is willing to share her own story, so you know you’re in this together. The work that we’ve done really has been transformational. It’s given me a new language around how to talk about my work, how I show up, and what it is that I value.

I’ve gained a strong sense of accountability, to hold a mirror up to myself and face challenges head-on instead of retreating.

Ali’s not gentle by any stretch, and gentle was not what I needed. It feels like I’ve always got someone to talk to, things to work on, and someone to hold me accountable for it all.

What does success look like to you, whether this be in life or business?

When I started the work with Ali and we were working on a proposal, Ali came back with the title of ‘Creating a Career for Impact’. I requested that we swap the word career, for life. This felt bigger for me and not just about my employment.

For me, success is being active. It’s easy to simply absorb information, see things happening and want to contribute, but actually not doing anything productive. Success is action and following through. Let’s not just read about the good stuff or think about it, let’s be brave and be willing to give some things a go!

Personally, it comes down to bravery and courage. To give something a go and feel like I’m resilient enough to take that leap. Instead of setting a resolution at the start of each year, my friends and I decided to instead use a word that would anchor us and be at the centre of our actions. My word for this year is activist.

From an activist point of view, success looks like making conscious personal choices and standing up for something publicly. It’s about being ready to progress an issue in a public domain and to share a view or a perspective. I do lean toward worthy causes, but I think I’m a bit passive about it. That’s the next phase of my life with Ali, about how I want to be seen and how I want to show up, rather than just being some kind of anonymous figure.

Success is to know who I am, sharing who I am and standing up for something bigger than myself.

Want to know more about Jackie? Connect with her on LinkedIn.