Taking stock before taking action

The Last Word

Stephanie Chedid

President and CEO, Luther Manor
4545 N. 92nd St., Wauwatosa
11340 N. Cedarburg Road, Mequon
1193 Lakefield Road, Grafton
Industry: Retirement and assisted living
Employees: 572 employees, 363 volunteers

btlw_stephaniechedid_cmyk_esphotoIn 2014, Stephanie Chedid stepped into the role of CEO for one of Wisconsin’s largest retirement and assisted living communities, Luther Manor. In moving from for-profit to nonprofit leadership, Chedid prioritized understanding the organization’s fundamental identity before ushering in immediate change.

“Successful transformation within any organization, for-profit or nonprofit, depends on discovering who and what the institution is at its core – you have to uncover its DNA. If you have the necessary DNA, whether it’s care and compassion or innovation and risk-taking, you can teach, inspire and evolve your organization.

“For Luther Manor, having ‘heart’ at the core of our organization gives us the necessary DNA – the strength – to thrive in change. But that’s something I couldn’t know straight away; we all needed some time to figure that out.

“I recognized that coming into Luther Manor, an organization with more than 50 years of tradition, I was an outsider to its specific dynamics. Part of a new leader’s on-boarding is assessing the situation. Before leaping into making decisions or introducing change, it’s critical to understand institutional history and the prevailing culture. Missing that could topple the best-laid plans.

“Despite some pent-up demand for immediate action, I stood firm in requiring more research and thoughtful analysis to support important recommendations or decisions. Properly communicating priorities and managing expectations for the pace of change was, and continues to be, important.

“By taking the time to immerse myself in the ethos of the organization, I became armed with enough knowledge and experience that pathways forward began to emerge. By surrounding myself with strong leaders and field experts and by empowering our senior staff, necessary and meaningful change continues to develop organically – making it more readily-accepted and well-received.”

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