Wish you were part of the leadership team? You can start today.
Who is on the leadership team in your senior living community? The administrator, certainly. The department managers and team leads. Who else? Are you?
When most people answer that question they assume leadership comes with a certain job title. “I’m not a manager,” they might say to themselves, “so I’m not part of the leadership team.”
Some people shrug their shoulders and figure, “I’m just a … server or dishwasher or aide … so whatever, I’m just doing what I have to so I don’t get in trouble and waiting for my shift to be over.”
Others are more ambitious and would like to be promoted, but they don’t see themselves as leaders yet. In their mind, leadership will come when they reach a certain professional level, perhaps when they are given a supervisory role.
Organizational culture tends to reinforce these ideas. When we talk about the leadership team, we usually mean, “the managers.”
Yet there are dishwashers who are leaders and managers who are not, so it’s time to expand our thinking about who is on the leadership team.
What is a Leader?
A leader, quite simply, is someone others follow. Leaders guide or inspire their followers. That’s it. There is no job title required and no one else can bestow leadership upon you. Your company might make you “the boss” of other people, but only you can make yourself a leader.
Like hospitality, leadership is an attitude you claim. If you adopt the mindset of a leader and demonstrate it through your behavior, you will be a leader. If you don’t, you won’t, regardless of your job title.
What Does it Take to Be a Leader?
To guide or inspire others, you need to be worthy of trust and respect and you need to be willing to mentor others through the example you set. This is powerful stuff–we’re talking about how you can influence the attitudes and behavior of others—so use it for good. The best leaders, the ones that benefit most from their leadership and create the most benefit for other people, are those who consciously work to lead toward positive improvement.
You will be recognized as a leader and followed if you:
- Take responsibility. Keep your commitments on time and with excellence. If you have made a mistake, own it, apologize sincerely, fix the problem if you can, and figure out how you can avoid a repeat incident. Leaders set high standards for themselves and live by the motto, “the buck stops with me.”
- Treat others with dignity and empathy. Show your respect for others in how you think, speak, and act toward them. If there is disagreement, give the other person time to express how they are feeling and make an honest effort to identify with their position. This is especially important when you are dealing with people who may be vulnerable, like frail elders, or people who are below you in the organizational hierarchy. Leaders treat everyone as they would like to be treated.
- Be ethical. Be virtuous and straightforward at all times, even when no one is looking, and especially when there is a problem. Create your own code of core values and live by it. Leaders do the right thing as a matter of self-respect.
- Don’t let fear stop you. Committing something new can be nerve-wracking; it pushes us out of our comfort zone. The first time you volunteer suggestions for improving a process or acknowledge a short-coming without making excuses, you will probably feel nervous, but do it anyway. Leaders are courageous.
- Always be strengthening your team. Choose actions that build up and others and improve relationships. If you are trying to decide what to do, ask yourself, “Will this help us perform or connect better?” If the answer is yes, it is the action of a leader.
Ready to become a member of the leadership team at your senior care community? Decide to start leading, right now, and just do it.
Have you chosen to be a leader in your community? Do you have a story or thoughts to share about leadership? We’d love to hear from you. Email your story to Cindy and we might include it in an upcoming issue of Kind Dining® Connection. Please remember to protect the confidentiality of others when you share your stories.
For more tips on on creating a resident-centered dining program in your senior living community, check out this month’s issue of Kind Dining® Connection.
Subscribe to Kind Dining® Connection to receive free Kind Dining® news, tips, and training delivered to your inbox. After you subscribe, you will receive your free copy of Winning at Dining: Focus on the Fundamentals by e-mail.