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A human approach to leadership pays dividends

During a year characterized by change, several forces have set in motion industry-wide shifts that point toward a new workplace paradigm, one that demands a more human approach to leadership.

Today, leaders need to understand how their team members, stakeholders, investors, and property owners communicate differently. And there’s a greater emphasis on leaders to build a company culture that opens spaces for teams to perform at their best.

AppFolio's podcast "The Top Floor" recently kicked off Season 2 on the topic of Growth and Leadership, where our guests discussed how to support staff emotionally and through technology, the roles a company’s mission and values play, how “change leadership” empowers team members, and the benefits of instilling a “coaching climate.”

Neil Cadman, President of the Cadman Group, a boutique commercial and residential property management group in Southern California, said the pandemic helped everyone learn a lot about human frailties. “I’m making sure that the people around me feel supported, and that I feel supported by the people around me.”

Aimee Miller, Chief Marketing Officer, AppFolio, said that as the industry thinks about entering the next normal, it’s clear that many elements of the employee experience, and the way people work with each other and their customers have totally changed.

“We have this great opportunity to embrace the digital transformation that’s happening all around us,” she said. “With remote work and all types of workplaces, and how we all communicate and present to each other, it has absolutely transformed; we know that this change is here to stay.”

Miller said culture will play a big role in facilitating this new form of leadership and work environment. Companies that proactively seek the right change will benefit. “You can’t just sit back, relax, and hope that your culture is going to be fantastic,” she said.

“It’s helpful to connect the day-to-day of what we’re doing with the mission of the company,” said Brooks Baskin, Founder and CEO, 2B Living. “Culture is not just doing entertaining things or having perks at the company. Those things are important, but they are only extensions of your culture. When you take away the things that make those things easier – like being in the office or around each other – struggling companies don’t have anything to fall back on.”

Cadman said, “We [focus on] employee wellness as much as productivity. We’re continually asking, “How are you?” and not just because of COVID, but long-term. I believe that happy staff produces better.”

Christi Dobbins, Director of Product Management, Grace Hill, said that 2020 forced immediate changes and created a lot of unknown factors, high stress, and high tension, both professionally and personally, and the conditions required “change leadership.”

When done right, technology solutions empower organizations to facilitate a digital work environment that meets their teams’ needs.

Gozen Hartman, Co-Founder and COO of Fairlawn Real Estate, said the technology “is driving connectivity not only within our workforce, but with our residents and clients. There are repetitive and cumbersome tasks that our team members perform daily. Whenever we find tools that streamline or eliminate those tasks, it frees them to perform more meaningful activities.”

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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