As I step into my new role as principal at RDG Planning & Design, I am keenly aware that leadership is a responsibility, not a privilege. This responsibility comes with a variety of layers which carry some sense of equal importance. From a fiduciary standpoint, I am responsible to my fellow stockholders for the stewardship of our company’s revenue and resources. To quote one of the RDG founding principals who is no longer with us, “as leaders we must be good at catching fish as well as cleaning fish”, in other words, bringing in the work and executing the work are both part of the leadership role in our firm. Today’s clients will be impacted in a detrimental way if we aren’t business-healthy for the future. As leaders, we are all responsible for continuity of our business and our services.
Although I have embarked in an expanded role at RDG, I must intentionally begin to replace myself from that “continuity” perspective. How can that be? I just got here! This “replacement of self” concept drives another leadership responsibility role that we must carry…the investment in younger talent. This is a reality as I look across the senior living architect landscape to see that many of our lead consultants are aging in place…and I am looking in the mirror as much as I am looking out the window when I make that observation. Thank you, Jim Collins, for that analogy from his book, Good to Great. We must find those dedicated architects and designers who have a passion for impacting the lives of older adults…those who value purpose over position as they refine their careers.
As leaders, we are also responsible for setting the culture within our organizations, including our volunteer opportunities like SAGE. Culture relates to the wake we leave behind as we interact with each other and with those we serve. In leadership, we have to be role models in embracing culture. To borrow a phrase from author, John Maxwell, we have to remain F.A.T. as leaders….Faithful, Available and Teachable. If we want those character traits in those who follow, we must live out that attitude to be followed. A culture that is inquisitive and always learning will be a culture full of humble leaders and followers who make a difference in the lives of people.
Our clients and their residents deserve leaders who answer to a higher calling in our senior living world. Its not about us…its about them. In light of this more humble approach to our profession, I was recently made aware of a potential client’s desire to make a change in their architect. They said they wanted an architect who would listen. This amplified a premise by which I try to live…our value is not in the statements we make, but in the questions we ask. As leaders, we need to monitor our question to statement ratio….the higher, the better. In reality, we should become thought-provoking leaders in senior living…not just thought leaders.