Doing Well by Doing Good and Other Lessons Learned from 30 Years as CEO
For more than 30 years, Lynne Katzmann has led Juniper Communities, a public company and leader in seniors housing, by prioritizing doing well by doing good. Profits matter (she has investors, after all), but so does providing high-quality care and innovative services for her residents. It’s a “walking the talk” mindset that attracts professionals with a similar mindset, many of whom happen to be women.
For women who want to excel, Katzmann stresses the importance of standing out, not blending in. “As a woman I’ve never been afraid to be innovative and I send that message to my team.”
Katzmann recalls a seminal moment from early in her career. “In 1988, I learned a powerful lesson. We went to the Bank of Boston to give a presentation to secure funding (to launch Juniper),” she recalls. “They (the lenders) were not enthusiastic and at the end of the presentation a woman on their staff approached me and asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
“I figured, ‘I’m not going to get the money anyway,’ so I gave her an honest answer,” Katzmann recalls. “I told her that I wanted my company to be a model for public policy in senior living and to show that operations can improve lives for seniors.”
She added, “I realized afterward that my unfiltered message had connected with her and that made such a long-lasting impression on me. I realized that talking about ‘mission’ in a for-profit world might not resonate with everyone, but that sharing our mission would be the best way to connect with the people we wanted to connect with, those with similar values.”
A Culture That Nurtures Women in Leadership
Katzmann has continued to follow this path, never trying to appeal to everyone, but focusing on people who share her values—from selecting Juniper’s board to hiring her team members.
“While our healthcare mission can appeal to anyone, it is one of nurturing, and women are known as nurturers. And that appeals to a lot of women and optimizes what many women bring to the table,” she says.
A pioneer in driving corporate gender equality, she has built leadership teams which are more than 75% women. Juniper walks its talk when it comes to recruiting and promoting women. At the Executive Level, five members of Juniper’s Corporate Leadership Team are women, two are men. According to Katzmann having a balance of women in Juniper’s c-suite has made it easier to make bold choices and intuitive decisions. “I’m a big believer in gender-balanced boards, and, frankly, it would be tougher to lead this organization the way we have with a male-dominated c-suite. It was a purposeful decision to make sure women have a place.”
She adds that Juniper attracts great women because it acknowledges the necessity of achieving some degree of work/life balance, without compromising the quality of work. This duality makes it a great fit for high achievers with lives outside the office, such as, obviously, women with family commitments.
“I was a single mother by choice. So I know what it’s like to raise a child on my own, and I had more resources than most women,” Katzmann says. “I know that work/life balance is a constant push and pull. And we’re a 24/7 business. We emphasize getting the work done, but, if you need to go to your kid’s game, go to your kid’s game (and get the work done later).”
Katzmann adds, “There’s an underlying value there, which is that you’re a human being first and sometimes work takes priority and—at different times—other commitments take priority.”
Katzmann believes her company’s pro-woman culture is natural in a sector where women make up the majority of residents, where family members (usually daughters and daughters-in-law) make the bulk of care decisions and where women comprise the majority of caregivers across the board.
Yet, even in 2019, Juniper remains the only woman-founded, owned and led company among the top 40 national assisted living companies.
Taking Chances—More than Lip Service
Though the company emphasizes work/life balance, Juniper’s leaders often end up working fairly long, intense hours. It’s an organization that rewards excellence and collaboration, while understanding there must be room to fail. The work environment is one where people take their responsibilities (but not necessarily themselves) seriously.
What emerges is an environment that celebrates risk-takers, aspiring leaders with inventive ideas who are willing to work hard to achieve their visions. Equally important, it’s a culture that understands the importance of permitting team members to fail, learn, reboot and start again rather than celebrating middle-of-the-road “perfection.”
This has helped make Juniper an organization known for innovation and one with a high employee retention rate in a field notorious for constant turnover.
Constantly Striving to Evolve
Innovation has been a hallmark of Lynne Katzmann’s leadership in the industry. Through her vision and forward approach, she is making great strides to innovate within the industry and increase the role of technology to conquer the challenges facing senior living providers. Her achievements are marked by an emphasis on striving to evolve, from both a personal and business perspective for herself, her employees and her company.
The elements of Katzmann’s leadership philosophy include:
• Transparency. Employees at all levels are given a tremendous amount of information to do their jobs.
• Planning. An emphasis on thinking strategically, learning to manage operations today while thinking about the future five or more years down the line.
• Balance. High standards are offset by an intrinsic understanding that sometimes life outside work becomes a team member’s priority.
• Ownership. Providing opportunities to take on new responsibilities not already on a team member’s resume.
• Openness. A non-judgmental willingness to listen to new concepts from any level of the corporate hierarchy.
• Readiness. To let younger employees implement new ideas.
• Mentoring. A nurturing environment with active mentoring helps younger team members identify opportunities and fulfill their potential.
“I attribute much of my career success to the double bottom line: doing well by doing good,” maintains Katzmann. “My leadership style is based on mentorship and inspiration through example. I’m also a firm believer that education is empowerment and learning is a lifelong pursuit.”
About Juniper Communities, LLC
Juniper Communities, a leader in quality, value and innovation in seniors housing and operates communities in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado that emphasize residents’ comfort, interaction and security. Our facilities and approach to housing and care offers residents the opportunity to live a full life, regardless of age or health. Juniper’s innovative Connect4Life program has been proven to improve residents’ care by decreasing hospitalizations, re-hospitalizations and urgent care visits, while offering potential cost savings to public programs such as Medicare. To learn more about the many ways Juniper Communities innovates in support of our residents, please contact us at junipercommunities.com or 973.661.8300.