For those who do not know me, let me introduce myself: for more than 10 years I have been working in the senior care industry. Initially I promoted the work that senior care companies carry out in Spain. In recent years, I have been advocating innovation to improve the quality of life of senior citizens.
Thanks to these experiences, I have had the opportunity to get to know technological companies that specialize in senior care management. I have also gotten to know many of the larger companies that traditionally offer services in this industry in Spain.
That’s why I want to tell you two secrets that very few people in this industry dare to say in public:
First: One of the things that surprised me the most when I first started working is that there are people within the senior care industry who refer to it with contempt. I have heard executives of large companies in Spain call it a “crappy industry”.
Second: On the other hand, I have learned about organizations and companies that are fully committed to improving the quality of life of the elderly, as well as the working conditions in their organization. There are true leaders in this sector with a service vocation that is outstanding.
My conclusion is that there are two types of leaders in businesses specializing in senior care.
The bulls: This type of leader sees senior citizens from the point of view of the services. They want to be remembered for the volume of sales and the amount of money they accumulated while they managed the business. They understand growth as a short-term goal. They are defensive and averse to change wen they find the right financial formula.
The unicorns: This type of leader thinks about their services and business from the point of view of senior citizens. They want to transform society and be remembered for this legacy. They understand growth as a path to a long-term goal. They take initiative and in favor of change.
Of course, there are nuances of bulls and unicorns, even in organizations whose primary focus is on profits. It is healthy to have both kinds of leaders in an organization to bring balance. Nevertheless, this does not seem to be the usual case. Often the staff, assistants and caregivers working in these companies are the everyday heroes who, through their personal commitment, make up for the lack of empathy and compassion on the part of management positions.
However, depending on the empathy and compassion of staff will not be enough in the long run when a new generation of senior citizens with more demands and higher expectations want the services of the senior care industry. This change in the organization to a more person-center care requires leadership focus in innovation.
Person-centered care is considered revolutionary in Spain, but it is not. Nor is it a very new concept in other industries. If you think about it, it is simply common sense.
If you consider yourself a leader in the senior care industry, ask yourself the following question: Is your organization providing care in the way you would like to be cared for when are a senior citizen? The answer to this question is an indication of if your organization is batting for profits or establishing a legacy.
The lack of innovation in the senior care industry, compared to other industries, is clearly a leadership problem. We need leaders who understand that they are the last to eat at the table. Leaders who understand that the leader’s reputation is the result of the work carried out by the people they represent. Leaders who take care of their staff, so the staff take care of their clients. Leaders who listen before speaking. Leaders who work towards a legacy and not short-term glory.
Future organizations in the senior care industry will be the ones that invest in the people that work for them and that put their client at the center of their business. This is the key to innovation.
Are you a bull or a unicorn? What type of organization do you represent? The kind that strives to be legendary or the one that merely tries to hit the ball?
If you consider that the organization you work for is legendary, comment.