As part of that process, Richardson said

managers have to learn to set the tone for their employees and provide adequate guidance. “We start here at orientation by talking

about our core values,” Richardson said. “So, if you walk into our communities today, I have a high level of confi dence that you could walk up to any employee and ask them to tell you what the core values are of the company and they'll be able to tell you. That resonates with people.” Richardson said the better a leader can

establish shared values in a company the more united employees will be in the mis- sion and the more engaged they will be in their work. “It's important as a company to have this

language to talk about how we approach our business, what our company is all about, and what’s important to us,” Richardson said. Goldberg said he has learned the

importance of surrounding yourself with people “smarter than you”—people you also respect and love working alongside. “It’s so important to realize that no one

individual has the ability to pull it all off without having the right people around them,” Goldberg said. During his previous positions as a consul-

tant and at a wireless telecommunications company, Dollenberg said he saw the im- portance of providing clear communication to a team about expected results.

“It’s important to acknowledge that there are major stresses for our employees outside of the four walls of the workplace,” Comer said.

Turning to the team to bolster customer service Through his time working with a quick- service restaurant chain and even hanging around the retail stores his parents ran when he was a child, Goldberg said he developed a belief in the importance of customer service. A crucial component of that belief is that customer service stems from a com- pany’s front-line staff . Executives who want to build a company renowned for customer service must fi rst provide their own care and attention to their front-line staff , aiming to build a culture of customer service that is authentic and ingrained, he said. “We're in the senior housing business,”

Goldberg said. “We're in the operation side of it. We're also in the real estate side of it. But at the end of the day, none of it really matters unless you're taking care of seniors.” Goldberg said his leadership style, dating back to his days in quick-service restaurants,

“I was so lucky to have that and to be trusted and empowered at a young age in a complicated and sophisticated multi-layered business,” Goldberg said.

“When I think about having an intense

focus on achieving results, that was an im- portant part of working at McKinsey, who is just unbelievably results-driven, and also my time in wireless, where I had a fabulous leader who I worked with very closely,” Dollenberg said. “We always talked about the importance of setting expectations and measuring results and coming up with ac- tion plans when something went off track. I learned to focus on the importance of achieving results.”

centers around “taking care of staff members, our teammates, the ones doing all the work.” “At the end of the day, my number one

customer is not the residents—and I love our residents and I want them to have the most amazing experience ever—but at the end of the day my top customers are our employees,” Goldberg said. “It sounds corny and cliché, but if you think about that every time you walk into a community or you walk into the corporate offi ce and you're making decisions, whatever it is—if

you always remind yourself before making that decision what's most important to you is your employees—then I think you’ll have a competitive advantage in this industry. And it’s the type of leadership I want to be associated with.” Similarly, Comer said he learned during

his years in retail the importance of an or- ganization’s customer-facing personalities: “in our case, it’s the caregivers, the house- keepers, dining service, and in retail it’s the person at the register making sure you fi nd the item you were looking for.” When an organization’s front-line staff members are happy in their jobs and pass that along to customers, “it’s a very powerful experience,” Comer said. When Comer worked at a regional big-

box retail chain, the company experienced a series of fi nancial hardships and decided shortly before the holiday season to no longer offer benefits to front-line hourly workers—something the company had off ered for decades. “It was jarring,” Comer said. “That was

the beginning of the end of my tenure there. I struggled with their decision to hurt the people who were most important to their success. I ultimately left and they were out of business a few years later, and I’m certain decisions like that played a part in that. It was a very, very powerful experience for me and showed me just how important it is to take care of people.”

Complex challenges Whitcomb said United went through

a variety of complex challenges—often involving limited resources—during her tenure there, including times of bankruptcy and layoff s. “I got very used to being creative in get- ting things done,” Whitcomb said. Whitcomb said senior living is a complex,

operationally challenging environment that requires executives to think quickly


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