This will likely be one of the most audacious leadership stories you have ever read.

By Steve Moran

So be honest . . . when you think about a CEO, CFO, COO and/or any other corporate chief anagram type big wig, you typically imagine them sitting in some fancy air-conditioned corner office with their polished brass name plate centered on the high gloss cherry wood desk . . . right?

It doesn’t work that way at Diakonos Senior Health Strategies. Kimberly Green the COO of Diakonos, doesn’t even have an office, let alone a corner one. Instead, she — like most of the other corporate staff at Diakonos — do something entirely different.

The New Corner Office Really Corners Well

“The only people that have an office in our company — and we’re big — is our accounting and billing department. The rest of us ‘office out of our cars’ because you’re expected to be in buildings.” Kimberly goes on, “. . . We do whatever we can do at home; but we’re never there, so our cars are full of stuff and we try to go into buildings as much as possible. We all have big bags. Because we need them [staff/residents] to see us when we walk in the door, see that we’re approachable and transparent, so that the CNA or line cook or whoever can come up to me and say ‘Kimberly, I’m having problems with this’.”

So rather than wasting money on fancy offices and corporate board rooms — pricey real estate that often cultivates more dust bunnies than fresh ideas — Diakonos actually expects their top brass to be onsite, at the heart of their company, where the real work is actually being done. Is this for real? The concept is so simple that it’s actually become almost foreign. You mean, they are expected to be witnessing and assisting in solving the problems first hand? No more phoning in half-hearted solutions from miles away, without any clue of what’s really happening? No more shouting orders from afar, but actually leading the charge side by side with their front line staff? Cue the Braveheart soundtrack here! Seriously though, this impressed me . . . a lot.

Cinderella Attends The Ball (aka NAHCA Conference)

It’s through this type of in-the-trenches leadership that led Diakonos to focus on what really matters.

“Well, when you identify that your core group that are taking care of people have such a burden on their shoulders that they can’t take care or they’re distracted, then you have to fix it because that is who is coming in to work for you. Like it or not, or agree with it or not, that’s who it is, right?” Kimberly explains, “And so you have to fix it. You have to identify and you have to fix it. So get a plan together.  And then you have to say I believe in you, I understand what you’re doing is really hard, I’m going to invest in you. And give them education. Not just the canned stuff, but invest in them. Like I said, we pay for every single CNAs membership to NAHCA. We pay for NACHA to come down, boots on the ground, in the building teaching them how to it better. We send at least three CNAs from every one of our buildings. We foot the expense to send them to the NACHA convention every year because they never get to experience this. You get them up there, well like I said, they’re standing on the tables and they’re yelling and people are there for two days devoted to them. You get a totally different response, a totally different professional. They’ve never had that.”

Kimberly went on to explain that not only does Diakonos send CNAs to the NAHCA Conference . . . they provide transportation, hotel accommodations, spending money (no joke) and they even take them clothing shopping before they go. Talk about an Employee First philosophy! As discussed in my previous article: “Not Afraid To Fail,” Diakonos means servant . . . a concept they clearly take to heart in both resident and employee relations. This is a company that has built its foundation on serving others and they practice what they preach.

To learn more about Diakonos and my interview with Kimberly Green, be sure to read “Not Afraid To Fail” and listen to the entire podcast below.  I want to give you two warnings about this podcast:

1.  It is long

2.  It will make you tear up in the best kind of way.  It is one of those rare podcasts where I can safely say you will not be sorry you listened.