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7 Questions on Leadership with Cleo Lawrence

Name: Cleo Lawrence

Title: Safeguarding Consultant and Director of Safeguarding

Organisation: SCSafeguarding and Independent School

My name is Cleo and I am a Safeguarding Consultant for SCSafeguarding. I am also the Director of Safeguarding at an independent School in London.

I have a strong passion for working with children, young people and families. I have over twenty five years of work experience that revolves around families. This includes working with complex families , supported in multi agency frameworks.

In addition to working with families, I have supported organizations to safeguard children including in some of the most challenging circumstance. I am a Social Worker and Practice Educator, who has had the privilege of working for:

Children's Social Care

Education Services

Mental Health services

In my current roles I lead on delivering:

Training and Workshop - Designing and delivering evidenced- based training and interactive workshop to enrich a learning culture

Reflective supervision - Providing a safe space for professionals to discuss thoughts, feelings and practice

Safeguarding Audits- complete audits or investigations using a systemic lens to explore and strengthen practice

I work to enrich the practice of professionals and organization to use a trauma informed lens to support their safeguarding duties.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Cleo's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

In leadership roles, you come across a wide breath of personalities, professionals and organisations that can have different objectives to your own. You will often find you have competing priorities and demands that you set for yourself and other set for you. I have found developing a relationship-based approach where you learn about individuals, the organisation you and others work for can be helpful. This creates understanding, and allow you to see strengths. It also gives you the opportunity have safe spaces to agree and disagree. As well as maintain relationship in some of the most difficult circumstances.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started of as a youth worker before progressing to a unqualified Social Worker in Hackneys Reclaiming Social Work model. I came across families who experienced hardship, were vulnerable and had little support. I loved working with children , initiating play and supporting families to develop skills and access other services to become more empowered. I built relationship and started to learn how to think about risk and what that could mean to a child now and in their future.

I started to research the impact of abuse and how even in pregnancy children's outcomes can be affected by what take place on the home environment. I went onto to study my social work degree and work with more families. I also learned about what I brought to the relationship- understand who we are is equally important when do relationship based work.

I became more informed and confident. Acknowledging my difference to families and professionals - which encouraged families to do the same. There were some circumstance where i had to remove children from their family dynamics - this was hard and emotional. However I always completed my work with the Children best interest at heart.

My passion and drive pushed more to take on more leaderships role, which allowed me to have influence of system that could make greater difference for families.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up very early ( the early Jamaican women hears the rooster crow ). I enjoy the quiet and use the morning to collect my thoughts and review my plan for the day. I send some emails and book clients for my Safeguarding company - SCSafeguarding. I then drive to work and throw my self into being the Director of Safeguarding. In this role I can do anything from :

deliver training

provide advice for safeguarding concerns

respond to external agencies

complete reports

chair meeting

Meet with parents and pupils

My work is fast paced and centered around children. At the end of the day I usually commute home and deliver reflective supervision to professional as part of my safeguarding consultant company. The final part of my day is family time- and give my whole self to hearing the updates from my family and enjoy their company

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I was recently reminded that everything you do and say means something to someone. I by chanced passed a member of staff I used to manage several years ago. This member of staff shared they had taken advice I had given them on a case and in reflective supervision on their career progression. And used it hold them in challenging circumstance. Some of the advice I had given was in safeguarding to challenge and be open to challenge. But to always remember to have somewhere in our life that is your safe space for you to be yourself. This space should allow you to vent unfiltered, be challenged , nurtured and encouraged to take risk. They held onto this advice through a company restructure and left the organization to study to progress their career. They went back to the company in a different role and was more confident in work they were doing but also in who they were. They had engaged in counselling along side the company restructure which had helped them feel held but all the changes.

So please remember to be brave take risk where you can but have somewhere outside of work and families where you can offload.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

100 days to make an impact as a leader

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Trust your instincts

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I have many stories - but in essence always be kind and make time for others

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