Welcome to Bridge the Gap with hosts Josh Crisp and Lucas McCurdy. A podcast dedicated to inform, educate and influence the future of housing and services for seniors. Bridge the Gap aims to help shape the culture of the senior living industry by being an advocate and a positive voice of influence which drives quality outcomes for our aging population.
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The Strategic Leader’s Playbook: 3 Tactics for Transformational Leadership with Anthony Ormsbee-Hale

Anthony Ormsbee-Hale, Senior VP of Strategic Operations at Civitas Senior Living, shares 3 tactics for transformational leadership.


Transformational leadership is when it lives beyond you.

Anthony Ormsbee-Hale

Guest on This Episode

Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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Anthony Ormsbee-Hale

Developing Emerging Leaders: How Organizations Can Set New Leaders Up for Success

Anthony Ormsbee-Hale serves as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations at Civitas Senior Living, a premier operator with senior living communities across six states.

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People should know how to make change happen and have a voice in that process.

Quick Overview of the Podcast

BTG Contributor and Ambassador, Anthony Ormsbee-Hale, Senior VP of Strategic Operations at Civitas Senior Living shares three tactics for transformational leadership and tips every leader should consider when leading teams. Listen to Anthony on the Contributor Wednesday series.

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Welcome to season six of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, Patriot Angels, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. The contributors are brought to you by Peak Senior Living and produced by Solinity Marketing.

Lucas 00:47

Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We've got a great guest on today, one of our Bridge The Gap contributors and Bridge The Gap Ambassador. We want to welcome back to the show Anthony Ormsbee-Hale. He is with Civitas. Welcome to the show.

Anthony 1:04

Thanks, Lucas. Thanks, Josh. It's great to see you guys again. Great to be back on the podcast.

Lucas 1:08

Great to see you as well. And you know what, I noticed you have a relatively new title, Senior VP of Strategic Operations maybe that went over my head. Congratulations on that.

Anthony 1:19

Thank you. I am honestly amazed that they let me do this every single day. It's the best job in the world, so we made that change back in October. Just kind of recognizing as we're coming out of the pandemic and looking towards long-term sustainable success for us at Civitas, having somebody who can help collaborate and build coalitions across departments. Because of my sales ops, HR background, it helps me speak the language. The only thing I tell people I've never done before is be a nurse. Although I have incredible respect for those folks, it's been exciting to really play a pivotal role in our objective and key result process. And just making sure that we're working towards what does the Civitas 5, 10, 15 years from now look like and how do we put those steps into motion right now.

Josh 2:06

Wow. Well, you are doing some transformational things. We have loved following you and your contributions to the network over the last couple years. One of our personal favorites to follow on LinkedIn and on socials for all the content you put out, your thought leadership, but with the transformational topic, that's what we were going to talk about today and transformational change and transformational leadership. And if you could dive in on that Anthony, and kind of give our audience and us a background on what that even means.

Anthony 2:38

Yeah, absolutely. And what I have tried to do, especially for our teams internally at Civitas, is take those buzzwords like transformational leadership and say, how do you do something like that on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis? And I go back to when I first became an executive director, one of the things that I kind of naively thought was, oh, I'm an executive director, I've got the big office now I can just do whatever I want and make any change possible. And then I would make these changes and my employees would say, eh, sorry buddy, we're not really going to let you just do that. You can't just snap your fingers and make change happen. So I really became interested over the course of those years of how do organizations change? And then of course we all experienced the same change of Covid. COVID happened to us, but operators who had what I call this changeability or this change power, decided that they weren't going to let the pandemic really narrate what that change looked like for them. So they took ownership of that, they put steps in place to really innovate in that time period. And of course as we're coming out of that and our consumer has changed, expectations have changed, ownership investment expectations have changed is how do we continue to build these agile organizations. And so what do you do regardless of the size of your organization, if you're a small one facility or one community operator or 36, 35 like Civitas, or hundreds like some of the national players as well. It's what are you doing to make sure that your organization can pivot? And what that looks like is, I was on a call recently with David Sawyer from TSOLife and just reviewing the program.

Anthony 4:09

I hadn't seen the software in a couple of years, so I wanted to take a look at it and I had been looking for this idea or this program where operators could take survey feedback in and you get the survey feedback, but then I, as an executive director or a regional director could turn that into an action plan. I could then respond and kind of manage what did I do to resolve this customer's concern about laundry issues or food and beverage issues and have it in a central platform because there's nothing that I hate more than taking information from one system, putting it in an Excel document or just trying to navigate what that whole plan looks like. And his eyes lit up and his entire team just immediately jumped into, we could build that, we can do this. For me that was like a great example of an organization that was agile because it wasn't, well that's not on our roadmap, we can consider that in a couple of years or what's the feasibility of it? For them nothing was off limits. And I've seen operators and senior living organizations do that. So that's the best example of what I know recently of what organizations that have a high change power or high change ability looks like for them.

Josh 5:15

As you start talking with your teams, you've obviously dug in deep on transformational leadership topic. I've heard you mention a couple of times these words of "change power," I think, and we were even talking a little bit before the show, you mentioned a term about "change power index." What exactly does that mean? What breaks that down a little bit more for us?

Anthony 5:38

Yeah, so it is the ability of an organization to change at the individual employee level, the team level, community region and then of course organizationally. And the reason that we look at how do you measure the change power index is, I think about it in terms of how easy is it to enact a policy change. And it's different when I say enact a policy change from, I can write a policy on a piece of paper and I can send it out to our communities and I can say do this right now. In reality it's probably going to take a couple of weeks or maybe even months for some communities to actually adopt that change. It's really going back to kind of the fundamentals of Kotter's Eight Steps to Change Management. How do I communicate this vision? How do I identify a need, obtain, buy-in, overcome resistance?

Anthony 6:24

I've been telling people lately, anyone from Civitas who's listening to this podcast is going to laugh right now because I've been telling people to go and watch the video "My Iceberg is Melting." It's a really great story of a colony of penguins who are living on an iceberg and they realize that their iceberg is melting and it goes through their entire process of how do we navigate this change? And so there are some people on the iceberg who refuse to admit that it's melting. They say, oh no, everything's fine, we're all good. No need to have any change. Then you have other people who go out and seek change and then you have people who stay to prepare for that change. And so it's a great organizational example of why that matters. And so when I look at speed to change, how well do ideas get adopted? Are there any barriers in your organization that keep employees from coming to you and saying, Hey, this is an idea that I think you need to consider. And organizations do that informally and formally. And one of the best ways that I know how to kind of measure that is, Josh, you have communities when you walk into your communities, are your employees afraid to come up to you and say, Hey, this is an idea that I have that would make my job more efficient. Or sometimes when we talk about that and a lot of people think about what can I do to make my job easier? And sometimes the question really is, what can I do to make my job more efficient so I can do things that really matter versus just less work, it's more meaningful work. So we look at how do we balance that?

Anthony 7:44

So how accessible are people in organizations who can actually make decisions? How interested are they in change and how are they motivated? If your compensation or your bonuses are based on very strict rigid measures that are controlled one way there's less incentive for managers or for leaders to embrace change. But if you have that flexibility within your organization and Great Place To Work has a lot of research about this where they look at how can organizations foster this innovative atmosphere where if I wanted to make a change and I came to you and I had a proposal, is it subjectively considered? Or one of the things that we do at Civitas that I really value is if I wanted to buy a software program or if I wanted to buy something, we have a template for a business case. And so I can go through that business case and it outlines what's the SWOT of our current process, what's the feasibility, the pricing. So it's a little bit more objective and it kind of boils down, oh well I met this marketer at a networking event and I really like them, so let's buy their product. It's here's the need that I'm trying to solve. So that's probably a long-winded answer. Hopefully that helped answer a little some of that. But it goes back to how well do you as an organization accept new ideas, consider new ideas, and then what's the process like internally for you to change. So then that looks differently based on your size. Of course we have regulations so that always has an impact in for us as well. So people should know about the ability and how to make change happen and have a voice in that process.

Josh 9:14

One of the things that strikes me is obviously we talk about this a lot. We have a large spectrum of listeners and thought leaders on the Bridge The Gap Network. And so there's people listening to this right now at various positions from C-suite owners, small to large organizations as well as middle management, community level management. And I think at each level we can think about what does transformational leadership and change look like for whatever my scope of influence is. Thinking of it from that lens, what would be a few systematic type of processes that someone could take away that's listening to this that they may think, well I can't be a transformational leader because I'm not in the C-suite or I'm not a VP or whatever. But I feel like from hearing you talk, there are some basic ingredients that no matter what level you are, you can create this transformation in leadership with the circle of influence you have. Whether that's huge or whether that's small. Can you give a few takeaways to no matter what the listener is, some things that they can begin no matter what the position to do today?

Anthony 10:23

Yes, absolutely. And you can boil it down to what I call three tactics for transformational leadership. And the first one is working the edges of your organization. And what I mean by that is having a close relationship with your customers, your employees, your vendors, other stakeholders so that you understand and can even get to a point where you anticipate their changes. When we focus on the center of our organization, we've become very tunnel visioned and I'm solving the problem that's in front of me right now. But when I have a conversation with a food and beverage vendor and they say, Hey, we're seeing an increase in the order of organic produce in this market, does that mean that my consumers are expecting me to have more organic foods available to them? Because we all know food and beverage is a hot button issue, no matter which level of care that you provide. Or if you have a vendor that reaches out and says, Hey, we're really struggling to provide this equipment or this thing and we know that you order a lot of it, you may need to order more like that and you can process through, do I really need to or is this a salesperson who's trying to make their end of quarter numbers and maybe creating a little sense of urgency for me. But what I love is tactfully as you're a community sales director and executive director, even a regional VP of operations, it's creating opportunities for you to directly engage with your consumer. And I was in a community yesterday participating in our wellness director training. So I had a great opportunity to meet with a group of new nurses coming in. I had a couple minutes in between calls and it's kind of one of those where you ever find yourself where it's like I don't have enough time to start something new but I've got to get something done.

Anthony 11:55

So I actually just went right next door and joined one of the resident activities that was happening and it was a writer's club that this group of community residents had started where the residents are in the process of each writing their own biography and they were sharing, they were reading chapters. And by just sitting in and listening for 15 minutes I learned so much about the demographic of this community, a significant number of them had traveled internationally. And so one of the things that as I was leaving the community and I talked with the chef manager was like, Hey, why don't we do like a tour of foods program? And so all of the countries that these residents have visited, let's do like a different dining special each week where we can highlight the culinary experience from that. And she's like, I had no idea that was even something our residents would like. And I don't know if they'll like it or not and hopefully the chef is great at cooking international food, but it's something where that's a little bit different than your standard three meals a day that's on your menu that may look like all of the other menus of your competitors. But you can go back to, and I love talking with our sales directors and just asking them, what objections are you hearing right now from people who are saying I can't move in because of this? Because if I'm sitting in a sales strategy meeting and I say, oh well our pipeline's slowing down because people don't want to sell their homes right now, that may or may not be true, that's probably influenced by the headline of an article I saw this morning. But if I can go and talk to a group of sales directors and they're saying people don't want to move right now because they're afraid of a potential covid increase or something like that, I know how they'll adjust our marketing strategy with our team to give them the information and the tools that they need.

Anthony 13:27

And I probably would've never known that. So that's kind of working the edges of your organization getting really clued in. One of the things that I'm terrified of is that I'm going to become one of those people who says, well back in my day when I was an executive director, nobody wants to hear that. They don't care, you know about that because it was pre-Covid, it was years and years ago. So just staying connected in and, and I think it's a little bit different. You can very clearly see residents when they look at you and they say, oh here's that corporate guy walking through our building again versus oh that's Anthony, he comes in, he plays with our dogs and ask about our grandkids and things, so it sets a different tone. You become a much more effective leader because you're aware of the needs of your consumer.

Anthony 14:07

So that's working the edges of your organization. The other one is sharing leadership more systematically. And what I have been really focused on, especially with our regional directors, because I see this across our industry, when I go to events and I talk to regional directors of operations, regional directors of wellness, it's this mentality of if I don't do it, it's not going to get done or it's not going to get done well. And so how do we as leaders, you know, whether at a regional district area, community level, pass on the information that we have to other folks in the group. And that's why, thank you guys for letting me do the mentorship series as a contributor because it was so important to me to say there's only a small group of us in the industry who have information and we need to get that information out to more and more individuals. So, and I always tell our teams this, it's the only way that you get to take PTO without getting a million phone calls. And when I say that to people it, they buy into it because who doesn't want to go on vacation and not get disturbed? I mean, I know I'm tired of getting called out by my spouse because I'm sneaking off to check emails and stuff in the evening. It's like, okay, let's unplug and take some time to do that. So you can do that by making sure it does take some discipline because sometimes it is just easier to do things yourself. But to stop and say, okay, I'm going to do this but I'm gonna grab somebody and I'm gonna walk them through that. And the community I visited yesterday, they have a brilliant executive director, I'm really proud of her. She was promoted from a wellness director to an executive director with us at Civitas and she came in and she goes, well is there any feedback that you have from me?

Anthony 15:36

And I was like, yeah actually, I need you to get your financial review notes in on time next month because you are late this month and we have that relationship where I can just say, Hey, this is what I need from you. And she said, yeah, I was late but I actually was late because I was training my administrative assistant on how to enter in the notes as well. So now she can do it if I'm gone. And I was like, perfect. That's all I needed to know. Super proud of you for doing that. And now we've just created a more flexible workplace and that executive director just became a little bit more agile because she can delegate more tasks to her teams. So I was very impressed by that. Empowering people to come up to you and say, Hey Josh, hey Lucas, this is what I need to be more effective in my role.

Anthony 16:15

And it gets them thinking about what can I do to contribute to the long-term success of our organization? One of the things that we've started doing at Civitas is the objective and key result planning process. And I talked a little bit about that in my Contributor Wednesday series, but we've also started sharing weekly updates across the company of hey, here's where we are. For example, this morning on our daily team huddle we talked about where are we with our controllable move-outs. Here's where we are for this month, what can we do to prevent that number from increasing? And it's great to have an entire company focused on our objective of enhancing our financial performance. And there are other ones too, enhancing our customer experience, our employee experience, and we rotate those out. But I don't know a CEO or a founder out there who doesn't want his or her entire organization focused on what can we do to enhance financial performance or enhance customer experience. And the way you do that is by getting people to talk about it and other people. So it's not just Anthony or Josh or just Lucas, it's years and years from now if I ever left, other people would know how to carry on that practice. It creates a culture within a community or within an organization where it's not just dependent on one person. And that's really how you cement organizational change and that's transformational leadership when it lives beyond you.

Josh 17:35

Wow. So some really good strategies and tools and concepts to begin this transformational leadership style no matter where you are in an organization. As we round out the show, Anthony, I wanted to just ask you a question of your advice. That last topic you were talking about is dealing with empowerment. And I think we all want to be able to do that, right? It sounds good and we're like, we need to do that, but it can be scary because you're thinking, oh my gosh, I'm empowering someone else to do something. Does that mean I'm losing control? What would be some things that you would say to that person or maybe some ways that they can empower someone, but maybe with healthy boundaries or expectations, what would you say to that person?

Anthony 18:22

Yeah, and this is one that I am in a huge process of learning myself. A lot of our organizations, again, even small operators have the ability to do this is to use data available in your organization to help you stay on top of things. Because there are a million different items that happen in all of the businesses that we operate in. A specific example, I can give is you one of the teams that I oversee is responsible for our internal customer service tickets related to our financial management platform. And so every single morning we use Domo as our business intelligence platform. So I get a report from Domo, it's sent to my email and it says, here's how many open tickets that you have. And so I can see are our tickets increasing? Are they decreasing? Where do we need to pull resources from to make that happen?

Anthony 19:07

And a couple of days ago, I kind of noticed our number of tickets were increasing and really at this time of the month, they should have been decreasing because we're kind of preparing for month and close and doing that. So I sent it over to our team lead and I said, Hey, do you need anything to help get these tickets resolved? And she emailed me back and she goes, I didn't know you looked at this every day. And I was like, yep, every day at 8:00 AM I get this, I get a couple of different reports from our system and that just kind of triggers me to know, hey, is this okay? Do I need to follow up with someone about this? So it's just setting that accountability with them of one I've already set the expectation of we have an average response time that we're expecting, but now they know this is something that you look at and it's kind of cliche.

Anthony 19:47

I had an old COO of mine who used to say, inspect what you expect when I was an executive director, it really annoyed me that that's what he said because I was like, ah, you're going to be like digging through the back ends of my community and all this stuff. But as a manager it makes more sense to me now to do that. And, but there's no way that I could go into 12 different systems and look at that. So if you have the ability, and you can do this, there are free systems out there, there are really great tools that are available that will just push reports information to you. And it's not like big and pro, it's one email that says you have X number of tickets available or you have X number of move-outs. I call them nudges because they push me to do something else, they push me to do another action. But we're also starting to incorporate that with our executive directors and other folks. So information that I want to make sure that somebody sees on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, we can systemically send that out. We've had the conversation, we've set expectations, they know that I'm following up, but they also know, hey, if you get an influx of tickets, I've been known to jump in and help process tickets because it's helpful for me to also understand is our system actually user friendly? Do I need to go back to the vendor and say, Hey, you need to update your software here because this is really taking a lot of my team's time, which we've done that before. I mean, we pay a huge amount of money to our vendors and they should be partners in that. If I go back and I talk to a product development team most of the time they're usually pretty receptive to that feedback. And I don't think enough senior living operators or other businesses do that where we pay for a program and we let them kind of dictate, well here's where we're going to develop a product. Whereas I'm probably a little bit more of an annoying consumer where I'm like, this is what I want you to build next for me because I have an idea for how I can use your platform. But that's been pretty successful for us. So hopefully that answers your question. That's probably a more menial example. I don't expect everybody to get involved in the minute task of their teams, but it was a great way for me to kind of build some respect for a team that I inherited where they knew that I could get in and I could do the job with them, but I wasn't going to do their job for them, but I could help them clear some of those roadblocks if we needed to.

Josh 21:52

Well it's very practical, real life examples to what is a pretty complex system of transformation that starts with the leadership and what an amazing topic. Anthony, thanks for taking time. We know you are super busy out leading teams and helping serve the older population and all the communities that Civitas has. We really appreciate your ongoing contribution to the network and to the industry and all the time that you've spent with us. Lucas, this transcends just senior living, this transformational leadership topic, you can take it anywhere.

Lucas 22:31

And that's why I love listening to Anthony because I'm able to take this with me into my own day job as a general contractor and the whole time I'm thinking about how I can leverage this and who I need to talk to and how to do transformational leadership in my own construction company. So Anthony, great to talk to you today. And for those that are not connected with Anthony, make sure you connect with him on LinkedIn. Go to btgvoice.com and also see many of his contributor shows on our website. It's such great information from a great leader. Anthony is also a well-known speaker. He's been a speaker at the Texas Assisted Living Association for a number of years, so I'm sure that you can reach out to him and connect with him, get and share ideas at any time. Anthony, thank you for your time today.

Anthony 23:18

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Lucas. Thank you, Josh. It's been great to see you guys and appreciate the opportunity to have this important conversation.

Lucas 23:25

Likewise, and thanks to everyone in our listeners for listening to a great episode of Bridge The Gap.


Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.

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