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Best Practices

How to Give Yourself a Promotion Right Now

Wish you were part of the leadership team? You can start today.

Who is on the leadership team in your senior living community? The administrator, certainly. The department managers and team leads. Who else? Are you?

Max DePreeWhen most people answer that question they assume leadership comes with a certain job title. “I’m not a manager,” they might say to themselves, “so I’m not part of the leadership team.”

Some people shrug their shoulders and figure, “I’m just a … server or dishwasher or aide … so whatever, I’m just doing what I have to so I don’t get in trouble and waiting for my shift to be over.”

Others are more ambitious and would like to be promoted, but they don’t see themselves as leaders yet. In their mind, leadership will come when they reach a certain professional level, perhaps when they are given a supervisory role.

Organizational culture tends to reinforce these ideas. When we talk about the leadership team, we usually mean, “the managers.”

Yet there are dishwashers who are leaders and managers who are not, so it’s time to expand our thinking about who is on the leadership team.

What is a Leader? 

A leader, quite simply, is someone others follow. Leaders guide or inspire their followers. That’s it. There is no job title required and no one else can bestow leadership upon you. Your company might make you “the boss” of other people, but only you can make yourself a leader.

Like hospitality, leadership is an attitude you claim. If you adopt the mindset of a leader and demonstrate it through your behavior, you will be a leader. If you don’t, you won’t, regardless of your job title. 

What Does it Take to Be a Leader?

John Quincy AdamsTo guide or inspire others, you need to be worthy of trust and respect and you need to be willing to mentor others through the example you set. This is powerful stuff--we’re talking about how you can influence the attitudes and behavior of others—so use it for good. The best leaders, the ones that benefit most from their leadership and create the most benefit for other people, are those who consciously work to lead toward positive improvement.

You will be recognized as a leader and followed if you:

  • Take responsibility. Keep your commitments on time and with excellence. If you have made a mistake, own it, apologize sincerely, fix the problem if you can, and figure out how you can avoid a repeat incident. Leaders set high standards for themselves and live by the motto, “the buck stops with me.”
  • Treat others with dignity and empathy. Show your respect for others in how you think, speak, and act toward them. If there is disagreement, give the other person time to express how they are feeling and make an honest effort to identify with their position. This is especially important when you are dealing with people who may be vulnerable, like frail elders, or people who are below you in the organizational hierarchy. Leaders treat everyone as they would like to be treated.
  • Be ethical. Be virtuous and straightforward at all times, even when no one is looking, and especially when there is a problem. Create your own code of core values and live by it. Leaders do the right thing as a matter of self-respect.
  • Don’t let fear stop you. Committing something new can be nerve-wracking; it pushes us out of our comfort zone. The first time you volunteer suggestions for improving a process or acknowledge a short-coming without making excuses, you will probably feel nervous, but do it anyway. Leaders are courageous.
  • Always be strengthening your team. Choose actions that build up and others and improve relationships. If you are trying to decide what to do, ask yourself, “Will this help us perform or connect better?” If the answer is yes, it is the action of a leader.
Ready to become a member of the leadership team at your senior care community? Decide to start leading, right now, and just do it.

Have you chosen to be a leader in your community? Do you have a story or thoughts to share about leadership? We’d love to hear from you. Email your story to Cindy and we might include it in an upcoming issue of Kind Dining® Connection. Please remember to protect the confidentiality of others when you share your stories.

Welcome Grace Management!

Grace Management Team in ClassCongratulations to the whole team at our newest Kind Dining® community: This winter 19 leaders from Grace Management, Inc. completed Kind Dining® training at Hammond Glenn Senior Community in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

After the decision to implement Kind Dining®, Debra Maynard, Director of Development for Grace Management said, "I am so excited to get this rolled out in Grace this year and I know this will be a game changer for us."

Grace Management is based in Minneapolis, MN, and has communities 12 states. They credit their success to their people-oriented philosophy and firm belief in the power of relationships, so it's easy to see why Kind Dining® was a good fit as they begin the work of setting their standards higher than ever before.

Kudos to everyone who participated in training this winter; what a dynamic, inspiring session!

Mind the Details Image
Mind the Details

Can you spot what is wrong with this picture? Take a close look; you can enlarge it by clicking on it.

This server is doing a lot of things right. Her hair and clothes are tidy, her work area is clean, she is making eye contact, and she has a warm, welcoming smile. But notice her right hand--she's touching a water glass at the top, right where the resident would drink from it. This is poor hygiene and unsavory for the person about to receive the glass of water.

Being service smart means paying close attention to details and practicing good habits until they become second nature. What might seem like a small slip-up can make a significant, negative impact on the people we serve, undermining our other good work.

Which details do you need to mind better? Make it a point to start practicing new habits until your dining service is picture perfect!

Potted Tulips
Spring Forward

After the winter we've had, it's time for a mood lifter. Don't wait for the ground to thaw, get started on spring planting right now. Growing potted bulbs at the table will allow everyone to participate in the joy of watching flowers sprout and bloom. Involve the entire community by inviting everyone to help plant the bulbs. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus do not need to be chilled before potting, so they are good choices for anyone. If you have access to bulbs that have been chilled, you have more options, including: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, Dutch iris and scilla.

Your bulbs should bloom about 4 weeks after planting, so this project will give you several weeks of conversation starters and enjoyment. After the blooms have faded, plant the bulbs in your community garden so you can enjoy them next year too! Find complete instructions at

Table of Contents

March is National Nutrition Month®

This winter seemed never-ending, but here we are, already in March, so it's National Nutrition Month®. The theme this year is "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right."

Research shows taste is the number one reason people choose one food over another. So, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is working to focus attention on ways to make nutritious food tasty. As always, this campaign is designed to educate people about the importance of developing good eating and exercise habits.

Is your senior care community observing National Nutrition Month®? Have you coordinated any special activities with residents or staff? Do you have any tips or recipes for extra yummy nutritious dishes? If so, please share them with the Kind Dining® community on our Facebook page.

If I can be of assistance as you work to encourage healthful eating in your senior living community, please call me or e-mail any time.

Kind Regards,

Cindy Heilman, MS, DTR

Higher Standards, LLC

ANFP Regional Meetings

Association of Nutrition & Foodservice (ANFP) Spring Regional Meetings are right around the corner. This year, I will be delivering four presentations:

ANFP North Central Regional Meeting is March 20-21 in Omaha, Nebraska.

ANFP Northeast Regional Meeting is April 3-4 in Nashua, New Hampshire.

ANFP West Regional Meeting is April 10-11 in Seattle, Washington.

Register to attend at and then hop on Twitter. Follow ANFP at @_nourishandgrow for news and updates.


Communicate Kind Dining®

How do you let residents and visitors know you are a Kind Dining® community? It's a conversation worth having, especially when someone is considering whether or not to move in. Licensed communities are eligible for a variety of tools to showcase their high standards, including:

"We Practice Kind Dining® Window Clings and Web Badges
Warmth Pin
Bringing Warmth to the Table Lapel Pins

Be Kind Pin

Be Kind® Lapel Pins

Lapel pins are available at If you need window clings or web badges, please contact us right away.

Thanks for all you do to make dining in your community a warm, nourishing experience for body and soul.
Copyright © 2014 Higher Standards, LLC, All rights reserved.
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