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Leaders of Tomorrow: James Taylor

April 20, 2012
by Kevin Kolus, Editor
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President, Sodexo Senior Living, Gaithersburg, Md.
James Taylor

“Residents are the heart of everything we do,” goes the credo at Sodexo Senior Living, a mantra that transcends the bunkum of all-too-common marketing chatter, realized through the actions and leadership of company President James Taylor.

But back up. What is a leader without a philosophy—a mantra certainly doesn’t qualify.

Taylor would have you ask instead, What is an organization without its ability to serve those outside, and within? 

“The space that we serve inside of senior living is—and I use the word intently—a ‘service’ industry, and you really have to have an affinity for it, you have to want to be in this industry,” Taylor says. Such is the “servant leadership” management model subscribed to by Sodexo’s top senior living executive, who has held that position for the past four years.

Introducing our Leaders of Tomorrow awards

Long-Term Living is proud to introduce a new annual awards program: Leaders of Tomorrow. The five rising leaders featured daily this week were nominated and chosen by Long-Term Living’s esteemed editorial advisory board. Read more about the awards program here.

Monday: Addie Abushousheh, executive director, Association of Households International (AHHI)

Tuesday: Govind Bharwani, PhD, director of nursing ergonomics and Alzheimer's care, Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio , , , , Dad, Dayton, Day, D, d Days

Wednesday: Nancy Brody Kleinberg, CEO and administrator, Park Pleasant Nursing and Rehab Center, Philadelphia, Pa.      

Thursday: R. Gary Sibbald, BSc, MD, FRCPC (Med) (Derm), MEd, professor of public health and medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario

Friday: James Taylor, president, Sodexo Senior Living, Gaithersburg, Md.

The servant leadership model is carried out, Taylor says, by affording every stakeholder under his influence the ability to create the scope of their own successes.

“To be able to help individuals define what that service success looks like, and then giving them the tools and resources and mentoring and coaching engagements, and asking the questions of them and stepping back, allowing them to figure it out for themselves, is fun,” Taylor happily admits.

“To see someone succeed at what they call success is what really gets me going and what I wake up every morning thinking about.”

Complementing his management style, and integral to his leadership approach at Sodexo, is his background in executive coaching, which Taylor received certification in by the International Coaching Federation after training at Georgetown University. He admits that this knowledge of coaching has helped him ask the right questions of stakeholders—whether they be residents or staff members of a facility, or his own employees—to listen to them and allow them to “rest in their own space.” The business, and its own success, should logically follow.

As a company president, Taylor must consider the strategic delivery of his product, the dining and wellness expertise that Sodexo provides senior living facilities, and craft that service to ensure clients’ business models remain sustainable while improving the lives of their residents.

“What is the culture that we create and how does it affiliate with the clients that we serve?” he asks. And he directs that question to young professionals in the long-term care and senior living industry as well.

“Once you’ve had a crystallized story as to why you’re serving in this space, it makes it easier for you to be able to take the challenges on that we have to face on a day in and day out basis,” Taylor says. “Become a steward and expert in this space. We have to get individuals who are passionate about this industry and who are willing to get deep into understanding what makes this industry move in order for us to make a difference for the elders and residents who we’re serving.”

Service is at the heart of everything he does.

For the future leaders of tomorrow, what will drive you?

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