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Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive, Hospice UK

Series: 

You are capable of more than you ever dream possible, never stop trying, being curious, learning and believing.

As Chief Executive of Hospice UK and Gold Standards Framework, convenor of Dying Matters and Patron of the Hay Festival, Tracey Bleakley is a creative, catalytic leader who’s passionate about improving health and social care and turning evidence into innovation, practical action and societal change.

Tracey’s previous career includes 13 years in management consultancy, followed by public health, education, and policing. She has 15 years of non-executive board experience and was the winner of the Charity Comms Inspiring Communicator Award, 2020 and Social CEO Award, 2019 and 2020.

Tracey loves reading and writing, running, gardening, her dog, cats and chickens, and long walks whatever the weather! 

Top tips

  • I learned so much about resilience by climbing Kilimanjaro and trekking the Inca Trail. No matter how difficult and impossible something might feel, a meal, lots of water and a good nights sleep will make all the difference.  Bank the progress of the previous day, learn from then discard the rest and take each day as a fresh opportunity to learn and make progress.  Believe that you will eventually get there without needing to know exactly how and when. And above all – have fun! 
  • Become really good at failing.  Because to be successful, you’ll need to grab every opportunity and try more things, which means you will succeed at more things and also fail more times than your peers. So become good at taking the positive from failure, doing whatever you need to do to metabolise the rejection and know when you are strong enough to try again. Only let your failures define you in a positive way!    
  • Be brave and be open with your teams about mental health. I wrote all-staff emails during the pandemic about the things I found tough and how I was dealing with difficulty through the pandemic and the feedback was that staff felt supported and able to be open about their issues because I was creating a safe space for discussion. Showing vulnerability can make you a much more authentic leader and give others the confidence that they can become leaders too. 
  • If you can’t get past a block in your career and an issue or worry is holding you back then consider counselling as well as mentoring. Sometimes you need to focus in and really talk something through before you can understand it and move on. 
  • Be kind and share generously and without ego. Create space for new voices and ideas.  Put at least as much effort into developing others, and other organisations as yourself and your own. Strong systems and people will support strong organisations and everybody will thrive. 

 

Best piece of advice I have been given

It’s going to be a busy day but don’t forget to enjoy it (my Chair on the day Rishi Sunak called me and agreed to give Hospice UK £200M for hospice care in April 2020 after 24 days of intense negotiations). 

Key Advice for someone looking to progress

You are capable of more than you ever dream possible, never stop trying, being curious, learning and believing.