The Housing Collective: Maintaining Focus on Your Goals As a Chief Executive Officer

6 min
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

In this third post exploring our recent Housing Collective podcast with Charlie Norman, CEO of MSV Housing and chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers, we discuss how new Chief Executive Officers can continue to achieve their ambitions whilst juggling the multiple pressures and responsibilities of the role.

In the fifth episode of our Housing Collective podcast, delivered in partnership with crowdfunding platform Beam, Neemar Search founder Tom Neely caught up with Charlie Norman, CEO of MSV Housing and chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers. This third discussion of the episode sees us explore how you can focus on your goals and not become overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a Chief Executive role. 

Alongside this, we’ll also explore the importance of collaboration and working with others to achieve wider strategic goals and missions, whether that’s with an external consultant, or with a coalition of other organisations within your sector.

The Importance of Being Able to Say “No”

Maintaining focus on your goals and duties as a Chief Executive can be a significant source of friction when you’re new to the role. Whilst keeping the business safe and able to serve current and future generations of residents and colleagues is your first priority, an important part of executive leadership is being able to decline certain tasks or delegate them to your colleagues. As Charlie notes: 

“I started this year with a ‘not-to-do’ list, giving myself permission to say ‘no’ more… The biggest thing is about holding your nerve in these tough times.”

Becoming a CEO in the current landscape can be a tricky transition for even the most astute executive or senior employee. Mosscare St Vincent Housing have been operating for fifty years, and yet Charlie is always focusing on developing the business further—with a focus on their residents, they regularly revisit the basics to ensure they’re getting repairs, services, and housing right, regularly meeting with customers to understand what they need. 

A CEO within the housing industry needs to be out and about, meeting with colleagues and customers regularly, and whilst being fair and diplomatic, must be able to refuse a request or make a difficult decision if the alternative is likely to take focus away from areas which require higher priority in the current environment. As Charlie says in our podcast: 

“ true to yourself and why you want to do what you’re doing. Focus on the mission and not the title—and know when to say ‘no’.” 

At the same time, saying ‘no’ more often can mean that a CEO is able to give themselves the mental space to process leadership and organisational challenges, helping them not to catastrophise, build resilience, and ensure they maintain positivity in the face of challenges.

Working With Others to Achieve Strategic Priorities

With a schedule of priorities to achieve within the next six to twelve months, Charlie recognises that maintaining focus on her duties and achieving her goals as a Chief Executive won’t be done alone: 

“There’s no silver bullet to this… it’s just a case of having it all really organised.”

As chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers, however, she and her fellow CEOs in housing organisations across Manchester are in an excellent position to effect large-scale change across the city. The way that GMHP pools its resources to create initiatives with real social impact, and address some of the nation’s biggest issues surrounding housing and homelessness, serves as a great example of the importance of collaboration and partnership for aspiring and new CEOs within the housing industry.

 Alongside this, Charlie encourages CEOs to get involved with working with combined authorities, politicians, councillors, and mayors—as well as health and social care providers—to take a wide-ranging and locally-focused approach to housing, development, and regeneration which allows residents and communities to lead a healthy and good life. 

With GMHP, this is taking the form of a Good Landlord’s Charter created in partnership with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Deputy Mayor Paul Dennett, which will ensure that housing standards remain high throughout private and social rentals throughout the city. Alongside this, the coalition is also supporting communities through the cost-of-living crisis, providing skills, employment, health, and wellbeing initiatives alongside a BAME Leadership Programme, which aims to level the playing field at the executive level within the housing sector.

Charlie’s work with GMHP and MSV Housing highlights the positive impact that CEOs can have when they ensure that the infrastructure is in place for a number of separate organisations to come together and make a real impact. 

By coordinating with other housing organisations and ensuring that personnel are seconded into roles where they can focus on critical business functions and a high level of service, CEOs in the industry can drive change within the communities and residents they care for.

Specialist Housing Executive Search Firm

Whether you’re a candidate making a career change or you’re a business leader searching for a seasoned expert within the housing industry, Neemar Search is here to support you.

If you’re interested in learning more about the challenges facing the housing sector or you’re searching for more leadership lessons, join the Housing Collective Newsletter for the latest expert insights.

We’re dedicated to partnering with leading not-for-profit housing associations, local authorities, arms-length management organisations (ALMOS), and for-profit enterprises to drive change within the industry through executive staffing solutions. Whether you require recruitment expertise within corporate or customer services, asset management, development, or finance, we can help you make an impact. 

Contact us to learn more about our specialist hiring services within the housing industry. 

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