This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting the many ways women contribute to the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida. Their significant impact makes our communities a better place to live and work. Today, we’re delving into what empowers some of our long-term leaders, and how to see the value in having a diverse team.
Westminster Oaks Executive Director Shannon Sauls said that as a leader in her community, it’s motivating to see her team members’ potential for development as they go about their own work. “It’s terrific to see people stepping up and showing leadership and great organizational skills, from people you didn’t expect,” Sauls said. She said she is thankful her team members at the Life Plan Community in Tallahassee always come to work motivated to do the right thing.
Stacy Oliver, Administrator at Westminster Plaza, a Rental Retirement Community in Orlando, also applauded the team members at her community for making her a stronger leader. She said that they are her encouragement as a leader. “They’re respectful and reliable, and a good group of people,” she said. “We motivate each other, because we love the residents.”
Oliver said that her experience in a variety of roles as a team member has taught her the value of “hearing a diverse mix of voices, both people in different roles and men and women.” She has been at Westminster Plaza for more than 10 years, but started her Westminster career in St. Petersburg, working in Dining Services. She received her bachelor’s degree with the support of the Virginia Baxter Scholarship provided by a former resident. Oliver worked in a variety of other roles, prior to her current role as Administrator at Westminster Plaza.
Each leader observed that having a diverse mix of people in leadership roles stimulates diversity of thought and opinion – and leads to better outcomes.
Oliver said that she thinks having a diverse team means that everyone brings their unique perspective to the table. “Some roles are predominantly male, and women have to speak up to be heard. Especially as a woman and as an African American, it can be hard to make yourself heard,” she said. “But you have to go with it! You have to express yourself, and do what you’re here to do.”
Sauls said that having women in leadership roles matters, but just as important is who you are, as an individual. “Your history, your personality, your strengths, your thought process, your way of analyzing information,” all play a role, Sauls said. “Not just men and women but also people of different backgrounds, different heritages and different ethnic backgrounds.”
Senior living is a field where the majority of team members are women, Oliver pointed out. But, Oliver added, “We are seeing a generational change, where now we are having a more diverse team of leaders in our communities. That makes the overall team stronger.”
Oliver said that being a strong leader begins with having strong mentors, and credited her own mother for shaping her and inspiring her as a leader. “Sometimes she held two jobs while taking care of my brother and me. She made sure we never went without, or never knew what we didn’t have,” she said. “I carry that with me.”
Sauls agreed that mentors’ value is in inspiring, not just in teaching. She said of her own mentors, “Of course they are incredibly talented people. Any of them could probably work elsewhere but they choose to work at a not-for-profit organization, and touch many, many lives.” To Sauls, a satisfying part of her work is knowing that what we do makes a difference. She said, “Our decisions impact people’s lives, health, safety and quality of life. Our communities are a place where what we do matters to many, many people.”
Westminster Communities of Florida is honoring the contributions made by women in leadership throughout the organization all month. Follow us on LinkedIn or on Facebook to read other parts of this series.