Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview with Beth Burbage, Vice President of Organizational Development, Silverado

Beth Burbage is one of my favorite people, she has a strong passion for the work she does and deftly instills the same commitment to care in the employees at Silverado. She and I have worked together for many years and I have been able to witness under her leadership her department and her organization grow and thrive. Silverado continues to be recognized for their industry leadership in the care and treatment of the memory impaired. Welcome Beth!

JS: You have been actively involved in leadership development for many years now, in your opinion what leadership skills will be imperative in the next five years?

BB: “It’s all about relationships,” as one of Silverado’s Board Members, Vance Caesar, often says. I strongly believe that leaders need to have the ability to build relationships up, across and down in their organizations. This is not something new, but I feel that leaders can sometimes place too much emphasis on the “task side” of their jobs, with not enough attention being paid to the “people side.” Sure you’ve got to get the job done, but the role of the leader is to get work done with and through other people. If you don’t have excellent relationships, you absolutely cannot be successful. So as we take a look at the broader society and where leadership fits in in the next five years, I think relationships are more important than ever. When times are stressful and there is uncertainty in your world, you’ve got to rely on the foundation of your support system, which is the people who surround you. So what is the key to building these vital relationships? Trust. Extending trust to others and being trustworthy yourself. Both are critical to building solid relationships. A leader must be willing to be vulnerable and trust first. This can be very hard for some people. But I stand by that as the best way to start the relationship building process.

JS: Silverado has done a great job of incorporating emotional intelligence (EQ) into its leadership competencies. What EQ skills do you feel are most important for leaders, particularly in the senior care industry, to demonstrate?

BB: At Silverado we give LIFE to the people we serve. LIFE stands for Love, Innovation, Family, and Engagement. We also give LIFE to our associates. When we look for leaders who will embody these values, and who can live them on a daily basis, effective emotional intelligence competencies are a common denominator. Several that stand out to me as important at Silverado and the senior care industry as a whole are: empathy, flexibility, self-regulation, and self-awareness.

We work with families at an incredibly vulnerable time, when they have decided that they can no longer care for a loved one with dementia at home, and they need to find a new home for them. Empathy is an absolute necessity in being able to listen, understand, and provide guidance to family members as they are making tough decisions.
As we work to give LIFE to our residents with dementia and their family members, we need to be prepared for the unpredictable. The moment-to-moment landscape at the community is constantly changing, so flexibility is key.

If leaders become unnerved in this ever-changing environment, then they can model the wrong things to our associates, escalate issues unintentionally, and sometimes undermine the trust that family members and associates have in them. So the next EQ skill of self-regulation comes into play along with flexibility. Does the leader know how to thoughtfully choose their reaction to the situation at hand? Can they remain calm under pressure? These are things we try to determine when hiring and promoting leaders.

All EQ skills are important, but the last one that I think is critical in our environment is self-awareness – it actually may be the most important EQ skill in my opinion. If a leader is not able to understand their own emotions, is not tuned into their strengths and weaknesses, then I believe they cannot succeed as a leader. You have to know where your weaknesses are so that you can develop or hire others to fill those gaps. You need to be open to receiving feedback and doing something with it. This will build your self-awareness and help you to be the best leader you can be.

JS: Many organizations struggle with bringing the concept of emotion into the business conversation. Silverado has done a great job with incorporating your operating philosophy of “LOVE is greater than fear” openly into your culture. What is your advice for companies who want to make emotions safe for daily conversation? What value has it provided your leaders?

BB: Having LOVE is Greater than fear (L>f) as our operating philosophy certainly has a huge impact on our culture. You can see it in action at all levels in our organization; from one-on-one conversations between individuals, all the way up to how the philosophy is used as the main guiding principle behind how our executive team makes decisions that impact the whole company. It was our CEO,Loren Shook, who initially introduced the concept to the executive team. He struggled with how it would be received, but overcame his own fear to take the next steps. With this in mind, I believe that one of the markers for success is that we had senior level support from the beginning. We had a leader with a vision. We have been relentless in our pursuit of ensuring that the philosophy lives on and is embraced by all associates. We have also worked hard to define what the behaviors look like that represent “coming from love.” We train our associates on the philosophy at new hire orientation. It’s included in all of our leadership training. We are vigilant about being sure that people understand what it means to come from love. The phrase “love is greater than fear” is heard in the hallways, in most meetings, and is something that associates have personally embraced and taken home with them. My advice is to keep in mind that it’s not just one thing that makes it ok to bring emotions into our workplace, it’s all of these things and more. From a leadership standpoint, having this philosophy makes a leader’s job easier. The training that we provide clearly outlines the expected leadership behaviors. When a leader can ask him or herself, what would I do if I were doing the right thing at the right time (coming from love)? And then be supported by their management for their actions that spring from this thought process, they know they did the right thing. They feel valued.


 About Beth Burbage
Beth Burbage is the Vice President of Organizational Development for Silverado Senior Living. She has over 25 years of experience in the learning and development field and directs all aspects of Silverado's Organizational Development (OD) function. This includes organizational effectiveness, leadership development, and interpersonal effectiveness for leaders, team development, as well as coaching and mentoring systems. Beth has responsibility for continually building the company's stock of human capital and encouraging associate development and engagement. She also facilitates implementation of appropriate change management initiatives, and reviews current development programs to ensure alignment with the company vision, values, and goals.  

During the past eight years at Silverado Beth has won several awards. In 2014 the OD department was honored by California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Leadership with an annual award for “Excellence in Leadership Development.” She was recognized by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) in 2012 with a Program to Watch for Silverado’s Leadership Development Forum. She was also selected by ALFA for a Best of the Best award in both 2010 (for LOVE>fear Training) and 2008 (for LIFE Leaders Training).In 2007 she was recognized by Silverado’s President and CEO with the Management Excellence Award for implementing leader development programs.

Beth has presented at State (California, Texas and Arizona) and National (ALFA) assisted living conferences on various topics of leadership. She is an active member of the Organization Development Network, the NeuroLeadership Institute, and the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD).

Her last position was as Corporate Director of Organizational Development at Corinthian Colleges, Inc. where she had responsibility for all learning and organizational development for the corporation. Prior to this position Beth spent four years with the Fluor Corporation in the People Development function, and started her career in training and development at MCI, where she spent 14 years.

Beth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. She served on the Board of the Orange County Affiliate of the National Human Resources Association for 5 years, where she served as President.

Past work experience includes serving in the United States Army and working for the U.S. Government as a civilian in the Intelligence field in Vicenza, Italy.

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