Susan Ansel, CEO of Gables Residential, along with Pamela Wade, Vice President of Gables Corporate Accommodations, provide you with personal accounts of risks taken, technology initiatives, and their leadership styles.
We hope you will gain perspective from these respected industry pacesetters that will serve to help you to advance in your career. In this month’s Learning Through Leadership blog, the female leadership at Gables Residential has graciously provided an important contribution offering their insight on topics that include their procedural and motivational management styles, corporate culture, and inspiration.
This month’s blog will indicate the qualities it takes to be an effective leader. Have you ever contemplated what sets leaders and great leaders apart in global mobility?
1. Even geniuses make mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.” Please share with us an experience that you have learned from. Give us an example of how a mistake proved valuable.
In 2005 Gables Corporate Accommodations made a promise and actually delivered! During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we had an opportunity to lease 225 apartments in one day, which needed to be set-up and available within one week. Knowing full well we could not possibly have 225 apartments ready for occupancy in one week, we still committed and agreed to deliver what the client requested. Our team thought we had lost our minds, and I did too for a minute. Together, with the client’s team and our team, we worked together to deliver housing solutions to over 200 families who had been displaced from their homes in New Orleans. We found a way to make it happen to service the needs of the client, especially given the dire circumstances. Sometimes we have to take risks. I have always had a “can-do” attitude and don’t accept “no” as an answer. This situation was not necessarily a mistake but was definitely a calculated risk. The effort resulted in a strong partnership with the client with whom we continue to work with today.
2. Who inspires you and why?
Gables’ CEO Sue Ansel inspires me. Sue is well-respected and willingly shares her years of experience and knowledge with her team and others in the multi-family industry. Her management style is to spend time building her team – set a vision, hold them accountable, offer assistance when needed – and then move out of the way! She is committed to working together with the management team to create a positive and rewarding environment for our associates, customers, owners and business partners. Sue has held many positions throughout the company from technology to development – never saying “no” when offered a new challenge within the company!
3. How would you describe your leadership style and how does it translate into your everyday work? Has it affected your corporate culture?
I believe the most important role of a leader is to serve as support for the team that you lead. The most effective organizations have spent time thinking about their business, builds a team of motivated, smart and capable associates and have a leader that helps set a vision, facilitates breaking through the inevitable hurdles and moves out of the way to allow the team to do what they do best. To be effect and efficient in these responsibilities, good leaders need to be good listeners. To keep pace with the rapid state of change in our society, it is helpful for leaders to be life-long learners. The pace of change in the world today seems to increase daily, and if you are unwilling or unable to learn new ideas, the world will pass you and your organization by. It is easy to become complacent and continue doing things the same way that has worked in the past. I believe it is leadership’s responsibility to look towards the future and focus on what is coming around the corner next. Over the years, Gables has had the benefit of having many great leaders. I think this is evidenced by the number of talented, long-tenured associates who have worked their way up through the organization and hold positions of influence and leadership within Gables and within our industry.
4. What do you do to manage your time? How do you maintain your mental and physical stamina?
From personal experience, I have found I am much happier, feel better and am more effective if I am able to maintain an active lifestyle outside of work. As a result, I target exercise 5 or 6 days a week. What works best for me is working out in the morning before I come to work. It clears my mind and gives me a positive attitude before I start my work day. I have also found that I can contribute to that positive outlook by being careful about my diet and eating healthy. As a company, Gables encourages our associates to engage in these same kinds of activities by emphasizing wellness. Gables offers a program called Fit-4-Funds that creates incentives for our associates to lead a healthy lifestyle. By participating in a variety of activities including measuring your level of activity, tracking your diet, educating yourself on ways to relieve stress, participating in an annual health fair–associates can earn incentives that reduce their monthly insurance premiums.
5. What are some of your initiatives regarding technology?
Gables is actively taking advantage of technology that is available to assist us with training and monitoring the engagement of our associates. Through the use of technology we have the ability to supplement our instructor-led training programs to add learning that is visual, on demand, and accessible 24/7. We have found that by providing instruction via multiple delivery methods, our associates have been able to take advantage of the learning opportunities on schedules that are more convenient for them and a better match to their individual learning style. With respect to measuring the active engagement of associates, we use technology to poll our associates weekly to give us anonymous feedback on the organization. We actively review and respond to the feedback that is provided by our associates and proudly report over 73% of engagement company-wide. We have been able to demonstrate that the ability to receive and respond to feedback creates greater associate engagement. We also see similar results with our resident surveys, proving that engaged associates drive greater engagement with our residents, ultimately creating higher levels of customer service satisfaction
6. Do you feel global mobility is more critical now due to growth trends, and millennials penchant for travel? If you could name one component in relocation, you find the most challenging what would it be, and why?
Absolutely! Millennials embrace change, so they aren’t deterred by the uncertainty that can come with relocation. Millennials have a community mindset and seek new experiences, while looking for fast, personalized service with unique and innovative conveniences.
The most challenging component of relocation is likely the transition period: getting situated in a new community brings new challenges. Simple tasks such as finding your new favorite grocery store or dry cleaners can be overwhelming for most.
7. What is your career related passion in life? What is it you enjoy about the Mobility Industry?
The people that I work with inspire me to do better every day! I also thrive being challenged. My motto has always been “we don’t need to be the biggest, but we want to be the best we can be.” This has continued to be our motto for 20+ years, and continue to strive to be the best.
8. Do you believe charitable activities can provide learning experiences that can translate into managerial skills, and prove beneficial to your team?
Community service is core to Gables’ corporate culture, and it is more than simply words in our mission statement. Our dedication to philanthropy and service is inspired by the communities we serve and the needs of those within the local community. Our annual commitment to community service, Gables Day, inspires our associates to make a lasting impact on the communities we serve. All Gables associates nationwide give a day of service to an organization in need in their local community. Associates comment that this is their favorite day of the year. The joy they experience when seeing the outcome of their projects cannot be measured. Our associates also take on leadership roles during Gables Day, managing specific projects during the day. This gives them the opportunity to interact with associates outside of their department as well as manage tasks that may be new to them.
Sue Ansel is President and Chief Executive Officer. In her 25 plus years with Gables, she has held positions in acquisitions, development, and operations and has led important company initiatives including the advancement of real estate technology efforts and third-party client services. Sue serves on several boards and committee’s including serving as an officer and on the Executive Committee of the National Multi-Housing Council, and officer of The Real Estate Council and The Real Estate Council Foundation Board of Directors, The Dallas Summer Musical Board of Directors and DePauw University’s Board of Trustees. Sue is also a member of the Urban Land Institute and a graduate of DePauw University.
Pam Wade is Vice President of Gables Corporate Accommodations. Pam began her career with Gables in 1990 in property management and then transitioned into corporate accommodations in 1994. Since 1997 she has led the day-to-day operations of Gables Corporate Accommodations. Pam serves as Past Chair on the Board of the Corporate Housing Providers Association, and previously served as Chair 2014-2015, Vice Chair 2013-2014, and Secretary/Treasurer two concurrent terms prior. Currently, she is active on several committees, and is a member of Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, Rocky Mountain Relocation Council, Houston Relocation Professionals, North Dallas Relocation Council, FEM, and the National Business Travel Association.