Living Leadership

Living Leadership

Confessions of a competitive CEO

Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

OK, I'll openly admit it. I want our organization to be the best. In the race for success, I want us to cross the finish line first. I want our community to win the awards, be the best and for other organizations to come to us for advice.

I didn't realize just how competitive I am. There is a drive behind pushing that, I hate to admit, I can't explain.

I have had team members tell me in the past we can't keep “pushing” like this. I listen, take their opinion into consideration but ultimately end up pushing just the same.

It's not like I don't want other communities in our field to succeed. I do, because we all are fighting the same fight. We all strive to do better for those we serve every day. I just want our community to be the best.

I was reminded of this urge during LeadingAge's national conference in Indianapolis last month by Angela Duckworth when she spoke of “Grit” that this spirit, this energy, this drive  isn't something we should shy away from but rather embrace. I thought maybe I was alone or at least a minority in my drive and passion for what we do. I was wrong. There are others of you out there just like me!

It's OK to admit it. Competition, even if it's with yourself to do better, be a better leader, is encouraged and we should embrace it. So here are my confessions:

•  Even if the face of success, I'm thinking of what's next. There is only a short pause to acknowledge the accomplishment.

•  Doing better isn't an option, it's a given … and we can always do better.

•  Status quo, even though it gives us time to breathe, is boring.

•  It's frustrating when others don't share in my drive to do better. I practice patience with their hesitancy, and I realize we are all wired a bit differently.

•  Motivation and inspiration must come first to lead the team, I consider it my responsibility, as CEO, to not only do that for others, but keep searching for it within myself. Sometimes it is hard to find.

My final confession as a competitive CEO: I believe without a doubt the reason for driving improvement is to create a better opportunity for those we serve. They deserve our best because they deserve the best.

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality under her in 2014, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year. 

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