Living Leadership

Living Leadership

Speak Leadership ... often

Julie Thorson, Friendship Haven
Julie Thorson, Friendship Haven

Sometimes a true leadership conversation is all you need to get yourself back on track.

I was reminded of that this week when I reached out to a dear friend whom I met during a time of learning. I've grown to value his friendship in a very profound way. Here's why: As leaders, it's hard to receive personal criticism or personal compliments from those we work directly with. Sometime an objective person, even when it's someone who you consider a friend, can give you perspective in a way you cannot see when you are in the middle an emotional reaction.

Sometimes the names, the specifics, the details don't really matter. When you describe a situation and how you are reacting to it, a leadership conversation with someone you trust, can shed new light on the situation.

Relaying the information as you know it — your truth — to someone who doesn't personally know all the players can make a huge difference in your reaction, and your decision on what to do next. 

That is why having connections to other leaders, whether they have the same position in another community or something similar is so crucial. If you don't have your go-to leadership conversation person, find one. Better yet, find two. The work we do is too important and too emotionally draining to not have people outside your organization to rely on.

Don't misunderstand me. Building trust and having meaningful relationships with those we work with every day is vital. In fact, it's beyond necessary. It's how we build our foundations.

However, being able to pick up the phone on a moment's notice and discuss where you are as a leader with someone who gets you is equally valuable.

If we tend to only focus on our individual communities and the leadership things going on within our own walls, we will miss out on so much! Gaining perspective and building relationships that last are what sustains us.

So I have an assignment for you. Remember that peer you met at a recent conference? Reach out to him or her, touch base and ask about his or her personal leadership journey. What struggles has this person had? Work toward creating a leadership network, and speak leadership as often as possible. It's a great reminder of why we do what we do.

My great friend with whom I spoke leadership this week asked me, “Do you still have the capacity to continue in your role?” My answer: yes.

Through all of our leadership struggles, perhaps the best lesson isn't about uncovering your truths while you are in the middle of an emotional issue but rather considering how you recover and grow from the situation.

Even though we are leaders, we are emotional, we will make mistakes and sometime we may be wrong. We are, however, committed to doing the best we can and staying focused on what we are trying to do. That is to create the best life possible for those we serve.

That is never in question.

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog has been 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 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 was recently named LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year. 

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