Strong leadership is a proven factor in a successful operation of any kind. Leaders like Lee Iococca revived Chrysler from a sure death, just as leaders like Adolf Hitler changed the face of the globe.
In your organization, strong leadership is vital to success, too. But a strong leader knows to listen to his team and let their requests, ideas and suggestions guide his decisions, too.
When I left home to attend college in another state I needed a job. I knew that I could work with seniors (my parents owned senior care communities and everyone in our family helped out from time to time). So I applied at a nearby nursing home, and was hired on the spot.
I remember very little about that job, other than the lack of training and the physical intensity and intimacy of care that I was expected to give. I was 17 years old, and it was incredibly overwhelming.
I also remember the nurse who hired me. I remember telling her that I would work any and all evenings of the week if I could just have Friday nights off as often as possible. Being a college freshman, I wanted to join in the social life at school and feel a part of that environment, too.
I’ve never forgotten her response. Not the words she said, but the actions she took. Not once during the semester I worked there was I scheduled off on Friday night. Not one single time.
By the end of the five or six months, I was done.
My memory of those months has shaped my own management style in a fundamental way.
I remember what it was like to be thrown into something I wasn’t ready for, either in life maturity or in skills.
I remember what it was like to have the one thing I requested totally disregarded by management.
And so today I run a training company that helps prepare nursing assistants and caregivers to give incredibly challenging, intimate care.
I listen to my employees and give them as much flexibility in scheduling as possible.
I know that I would have stayed in that job, perhaps for my full four years at college if I had been adequately trained and respected. Instead, I left people whom I had genuinely learned to love in the care of others – and found a job where my needs were respected, too.
We’ve had crises in turnover in senior care, industry-wide. We’ve had PR disasters and plenty of census challenges, too.
At the end of the day, I believe that the strong leaders – those people who have led their organization to success – will be ones who know the value of their team, and who listen to them, train them and respect them.