By Steve Moran

I try to spend some time first thing every morning reading and journaling. I am honestly not as disciplined as I wish I was, which would mean six or seven days a week. Reality is two to four days a week, when I am at home.

Last week I was reading from the book of Judges, which is in the Old Testament. (If you are not a religious person, no worries, this is not a Bible study being pushed on you.) This book is about a period in Jewish history before they had a king. Instead, they were led by a series of judges — some good and some not so good.

More Sad Than Glad

The whole book is a series of stories about success and failure. A good judge and good leader would die, and the nation would fall into chaos. They would lose their moral compass and live self-indulgent, hedonistic lives, and their enemies would sense weakness, and they would be invaded.

Those times of occupation were terrible. They would live in poverty and misery. Then a new judge would come along. They would get their act together, and then for the next 20 to 40 years, life would be wonderful. Then that judge would die, and the pattern would be repeated.

Senior Living

As I was reading these stories, it really hit me how the right leadership can make the lives of people they are leading better and that bad leadership can make the lives of those they lead miserable. We see this in senior living all of the time.

There are high performing companies that have high performing communities, and the people who work for those organizations love coming to work each day. And then when they go home, they are proud of the work they do and excited about going back to work the next day.

The Hard Truth

The hard truth is that if you see underperforming companies, underperforming communities, it is always, 100% of the time, a leadership problem. In some cases, it is senior leadership, and in other cases, it is local leadership. This is actually really good news, because it means that every underperforming company and community is fixable … almost.

Some Room for Grace

As I was writing this, I realized it seemed too harsh, judgemental, and simplistic. Here is why:

  1. Sometimes a senior living community will be a mismatch for the senior living organization. It could be a geographic mismatch or a cultural mismatch. A company that is focused on middle market may not do so well with a luxury building and vice versa.
  2. There are times when a building was bought or built wrong, to the point that it simply can’t generate the rents needed to pay for the operation of the building. I recently visited one of those communities. It was a repurposed building that was beautiful, but the rates were way way out of line. It appears the rates were set not on market conditions but based on the cost of building the building. Still a leadership problem but a different one.
  3. There are times a company gets involved in managing a building that has been so neglected by prior managers that units are unrentable and there is not enough money to make the necessary repairs. Again a leadership problem but a different kind.

If you and your organization are struggling, it might mean you need some help with your leadership. We would be glad to talk to you about how to fix it. But please know it is fixable. 100%.