Ty Jones hosted the Leadership Intensive at the TALA 2024 Annual Conference and Industry Expo.  

First, let me say thank you to Diana, the TALA Board of Directors, and our 2024 leadership intensive sponsor LifeWell Senior Living. It was an honor to conduct the three-hour Leadership Intensive workshop at the 2024 TALA Leadership Conference. A special thanks to all the session attendees for their unselfish and proactive participation throughout the entire duration of the workshop. Collectively, as a group, we dared to do something different and rare at a conference: everyone shared their biggest challenge (leadership and/or operational related) and then we explored practical solutions and strategies to resolve those challenges.

In summary, we were reminded of the following keys needed for AL leaders to “waltz” (approach boldly and proceed easily and successfully) with their teams/regions:

  • Extinguish Fear: True leaders never allow fear to control how they operate. You are in a position of leadership to influence, inspire, empower, and direct your team/region. Extinguish all brewing fears of turnover, resistance from team members, the wrath of corporate, fear of conflict, and the fear of having difficult conversations. Leading with fear often produces the main outcome that every leader desires to avoid, which is losing the respect of their team members.
  • Stand Firm on The Fundamentals of Leadership: For the past few years, the industry has been falsely told that it should/must lead millennials vastly different than previous generations of employees. Unfortunately, most have bought into that myth which has contributed to one of the biggest challenges today, turnover. The fact is, although a large core of millennials long to primarily be coached (rather than only being directed), all employees need to be in an environment where all four traits are visible about their leader: influence, inspiration, empowerment, and direction,
  • Create An Environment of Empowerment Towards Your Vision: Although post covid, regulations in the industry have emphasized, more than ever before, the importance of managing communities with its checklists, rules, and safety measures, every effective leader still must provide vision to its team/region. Without a clear vision, every team gets either stagnant, bored, distracted, or unwilling to go above and beyond consistently. It is our responsibility to create and maintain an environment where employees know your vision, understand how their contributions help manifest the vision, and how the overall team’s buy-in to the vision fosters the outcome of excellence which benefits everyone in the industry: residents and their families, employees of the AL community, regions of communities, and senior living companies.
  • Expect Resistance: Any honest leader who has maneuvered teams from mediocrity to high levels of performance will tell you that some resistance was encountered along the way. Resistance is a common hurdle that we must willingly approach and “jump over” just as the track hurdler that must “clear” every hurdle in its lane to get to the “finish line of victory”, which for AL is the place of consistently excellent outcomes for our communities.
  • Remember That Some Turnover Is Healthy: As discussed in the Leadership Intensive Workshop, we must except some responsibility for the turnover of caregivers outlined in a report published back in January 2023. Turnover that is a result of us not establishing a culture that welcomes and implements new ideas from the frontline is an indicator that we have gotten very comfortable with doing things “our way” and must begin to create at least a little more flexibility in incorporating some new ways of doing things, or at the very least show the frontline that we are listening to their feedback. On the other hand, turnover that is a result of pruning the workforce of individuals who deliberately seek to undermine the companies’ standards for performance, consistently threaten the morale of other team members, the dignity of residents, and constantly disrespect all levels of leadership (ED, DDs, and Regional) should not be frowned upon. Some team members just should not be allowed to disrupt the workplace that dictates the career development and sense of purpose that most employees rely on us to provide them as a means of fulfillment in their lives.
  • Proactively Prevent Your Regional from Being Blind-Sided: The best regions in AL have a “waltz” (aka harmony) component as well. They reflect an alignment between the ED, its DDs, and Regional Director/VP. All three levels are supporting each other while simultaneously empowering each other to achieve the vision and KPIs. If EDs and DDs implement the operations framework discussed at the three-hour workshop, then most of the challenges and solutions that hinder frontline and DD performance will be revealed, confronted, and proactively addressed which, if shared with the Regional Director/VP will formulate a culture component where the dysfunctions of the team will be extinguished. This will reduce the likelihood of our regionals (and corporate offices) being blind-sided by issues that both could be and should be identified and addressed by community leadership.
  • It’s Not Too Late to Do A Reset With Your Team/Region: In closing, the beautiful thing about leadership is that just like the waltz dancer, the more focused and obsessed we become with becoming great at it, we can and will. Regardless of how many times you may have missed a step (with your team), accidentally stepped on someone’s toes, made a wrong turn, or lost confidence because others saw that we were dancing offbeat, we still have an opportunity to GET IT RIGHT. So, if that’s you, then get up, shake off your past fears, mistakes, guilt, and loss of confidence and simply: WALTZ!! In case, you weren’t at the workshop, along with these seven keys outlined above, at its core, the definition of A LEADER WALTZING in AL can simply be found in displaying the traits that are found in the definition of true leadership itself: influence, inspiration, empowerment, and direction. If you are proactively, intentionally, and progressively growing in ALL four areas, then you are WALTZING in AL!!


Ty Jones earned his Executive MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a former professor of Miami-Dade College School of Business having taught courses covering the following topics: leadership, organizational behavior, human resource management, financial management, ethics, and small business management. His two decades of professional leadership experiences include having built and led successful teams as both a C-level and senior management professional for Fortune 500, private enterprise, and nonprofit companies. In addition, he’s advocated for seniors for over 14 years including having served as both the founder and first chairman of the City of Miami Commission’s Senior Advisory Board. He influenced the city government to pass an ordinance establishing the board and ensuring that senior citizens, representing all five districts, were included as board members. While working with seniors and hosting numerous speaking forums in the senior living mecca, Florida, he was a two-time recipient of the City of Miami Philanthropy Award for community service. He currently resides in The Villages, Florida as an entrepreneur while simultaneously preparing for the 2024 launch of both the iCARE Seniors Initiative and his leadership book for assisted living professionals. Since 2007, in addition to conferences and workshops, some of his speaking engagements have also included volunteering as a speaker in prisons and homeless shelters empowering men and women to regain their faith, focus, and life’s purpose despite the difficult circumstances that they may be currently faced with.