Are you a transformational leader?

Being a highly effective and inspiring leader isn’t necessarily about giving the best orders or envisioning the best business lines. It’s really about creating a work environment that will bring out the very best in all employees, says Samantha Hollister, President of CERTUS Senior Living, a new chain with seven memory care communities in Florida and another 20 communities on the way.

Autocratic, top-down management structures are passe these days, and they can even be counter-productive to senior living’s person-centered care culture where team-based approaches are overwhelmingly preferred. “Transformational leadership isn’t about power or seniority. It’s about using your actions to elevate others,” says Hollister, who spoke to senior living executives at the Spring Memory Care Forum this week in Philadelphia.

Transformational leadership can raise staff satisfaction, reduce turnover and improve outcomes. But the most important attribute, Hollister says, is encouraging an organizational culture of out-of-the-box thinking and forward progress. “It’s not just about helping associates get to the corporate goal or outcomes, it’s also about helping them become better at their jobs and helping them motivate others,” she says.

Outcomes improve when everyone contributes solutions, ideas and data, and care associates feel valued when they’re part of the care improvement process. CERETUS uses personal interest surveys to discover the hidden skills and interests of its employees and as ice-breakers when new staffers join the organization. When the process unearthed a new employee’s talents as a pianist, nurse leaders adjusted her schedule so she could play for a few hours for the residents. “Morale is more important than you think,” Hollister says. “It’s intrinsic to motivation and engagement.”

What kind of leader are you?

Autocratic leaders: Don’t trust others to make important decisions and tend to micromanage. Employee participation is limited, structured or even oppressed.

Democratic leaders: Rule by majority vote. They invite feedback and idea-sharing from others, but it’s not always a two-way street.

Laissez-faire leaders: Don’t participate in direct decisions. Associates make all the decisions. With no guidance, teams tend to have negative outcomes and slow productivity. 

Transactional leaders: Practice managerial leadership. High organization and high emphasis on performance goals and rewards. But as a strategy, it’s focused on status quo goals and not forward growth.

Transformational leaders: Guide but don’t dictate. Organization is high but not at the sacrifice of new ideas and workflows. Staff are engaged in the success of the team and the resident outcomes, not engaged in personal rewards or goals.

Many managers are good at setting goals but not so good at communicating how to reach them. Many managers are good at rewarding the end-goal, but not giving feedback during the process.

While there’s no silver bullet to being a transformational leader, too many CEOs try to enact change without doing the leading part. “You have to embrace your influence,” she says. “Followers are listening to what you say and looking at what you do. You are the key to creating the culture of future leadership.”

The best ways to improve leadership? “Look in the mirror,” Hollister says. “Then get out of your office.”

Couldn't make the Spring Memory Care Forum in Philly? Join us for the Fall Memory Care Forum Sept. 13-14 in San Diego!

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Articles , Executive Leadership , Leadership