Chatsworth-Erickson Living


Chatsworth-Erickson Living is an organization that specializes in assisted living for the elderly and those who are incapacitated in one way or another. This organization is relatively successful within its niche and to get to where they are today, the organization needed some great leadership. This paper focuses on the leadership styles applied within the specified organization with a special interest on the Chief Operating Officer, Debra Doyle.

Leadership is a critical aspect of an organization, especially, because it is the role and responsibility of a leader to steer an organization towards its future. This explains why in most cases, leaders are responsible for the successes and failures of organizations that they lead. The specific leadership styles applied by a particular leader often determine the outcomes of their leadership in terms of effectiveness and relevance with respect to the set goals as well as objectives. Some leadership styles are simply inappropriate for some situations and understanding. When or where to use a certain style of leadership is what distinguishes good leaders from great ones. In most cases, the best leaders are likely to combine a number of leadership styles to suit their circumstances. The COO at Chatsworth- Erickson Living applies a combination of telling, selling, participating, and supporting styles as relevant to the particular circumstances within the organization. Chatsworth- Erickson Living organization has an impeccably developed leadership that is not only situational but also adaptive and thus, capable of steering the organization further ahead.


Chatsworth-Erickson Living is an organization that focuses on providing comfort and health care for patients and individuals who need all round care and cannot stay at home. This organization also offers a number of services including health care and wellness as needed within the facility. As such, there are quite a lot of activities that go on within the organization. In order to cater to their more than 23,000 residents, the organization has about 12,000 employees working in operations, administration, finance, information technology, and security among other departments (Thompson, 2013). This means that the organization has a lot to provide on an average work day. In addition, considering that their residents stay there full time, the employees often have to work in shifts to take care of the residents 24 hours a day (Thompson, 2013). Therefore, when it comes to leadership within the organization, it is important to note the kind of environment that the employees work in. They take care of their residents throughout the day, sometimes they have to put in very long hours, and they interact with many stakeholders including suppliers, clients, and some independent health care providers and regulatory bodies in various capacities as related to their operations.

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Debra Doyle joined Chatsworth-Erickson Living in 2002, as the company’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Associate Executive Director as well as Senior Regional Health Services Director (Thompson, 2013). Generally, her role at the company has always been in an administrative capacity where she is considered as the executive personnel in the organization. She was promoted to COO in 2012 and has so far been doing a great job based on the company reports as well as employee testimonials (Thompson, 2013). In her interview with Long Term Living Magazine, Ms. Doyle said that as a leader, she applies a combination of transformational and transactional theories with the aim of keeping her subordinates appeased without compromising on the set goals and objectives of the organization (Thompson, 2013). In the observation, it was noted that Ms. Doyle applies telling, selling, participating and delegating within appropriate contexts thus making her a rather effective situational leader.

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Telling falls under the theories of directive leadership where a leader primarily offers a set of strict instructions that must be followed to the letter. In most cases, leaders who practice telling are seen as dictators or authoritarians with no room for consultation or negotiation regarding the orders that they give (Herrmann & Felfe, 2014). The reality, however, is that for a situational leader, there are times when directive leadership is the most applicable theory in a specific context (Daft, 2014). For Ms. Doyle, for example, her work at the organization involves working with the CEO to develop and implement strategic plans aimed at enabling the company to grow. This is a task that must involve wide consultations and open communication with the CEO and the rest of the organization including her subordinates (Blanchard, Zigarmi, & Zigarmi, 2013). Within this context, Ms. Doyle is a transformational leader who seeks to empower and enable her subordinates, preparing them for the company’s strategic plans through effective change management concepts. Nevertheless, this same leader is in charge of risk management within the organization. Within this context, there is not much room for consultation and negotiation. Her greatest role is to ensure that any risks that the company faces are eliminated early enough, and those that are unavoidable are mitigated. The main concern, in this case, is to keep the company safe from all its potential risk factors, including safety hazards that could endanger the lives of the residents (Vecchio, Justin, & Pearce, 2008). In such a context, if Ms. Doyle identifies a problem, she is likely to give specific orders for dealing with the issue at hand, using her expertise in nursing as well as in management. In the organization, this COO was seen maintaining full responsibility for all of her set roles and responsibilities and her need to provide clear directives served the organization exceptionally well in avoiding risks.

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The coaching style of leadership involves selling favored ideologies that are relevant to the situation at hand (Daft, 2014). In this case, the main concern for the company was the ability of the leader to convince their subordinates to do what is right even in difficult circumstances. At some point during the study, one of the employees was injured, and the organization suffered a shortage of hands on the job. To cover for this deficiency, some of the employees had to take on extra work during their shifts, having to cater to more residents to cover their injured colleague. This was rather unprecedented and most of the employees were unhappy about the new shift rules (Kinicki & Williams. 2008). To change the situation, Ms. Doyle held a meeting with the employees and tried to convince them on why it was important to cooperate while they waited for their colleague to heal. The injury had not been too serious, and it would have been unfair for the company to terminate the employee to replace him promptly. Working together at the time thus meant saving their colleague’s job. Here, Ms. Doyle was able to sell an ideology to the employees, and they bought it considering that they stopped complaining about the increased workload. Soon thereafter, the injured employee was healed and able to return to work. Selling an ideology to a follower enables a follower to understand why they have to do what they have to do, thus making it easier for them to participate compared to when they do not know why they have been asked to do something.


Participative leadership is a part of the transformational leadership theories where a leader generally joins followers in their tasks within an organization. Participative leaders lead from the front, with their hands partaking in the same activities as their subordinates (Daft, 2014). This kind of leadership enables the organization to experience impressive interpersonal interactions between leaders and subordinates. The most effective aspect of this leadership style is in the open and honest relationships that leaders manage to cultivate with their subordinates (Northouse, 2015). Open relationships help in breeding trust, and employees who trust their leaders are generally happier and more relaxed at work. Ms. Doyle is particularly close with the health care team within the organization. As a trained health care professional, she pays a lot of attention to the health care activities within the organization, working closely with the nurses and general practitioners to ensure that the organization is up to standard with their practices. Participative leaders are able to motivate and inspire their subordinates by experiencing their work with them and thus, being able to breed a spirit of togetherness and understanding. Working with the subordinates also ensures that Ms. Doyle understands her challenges and is able to provide solutions through consultations with the team rather than from an executive desk in the administrative block.


Transformational leaders also practice the delegating style where they empower their subordinates by nurturing their talents and abilities as applicable within their specified contexts (Daft, 2014). Transformational leadership is mostly about creating personal and career growth opportunities for the subordinates by assigning them tasks that are relevant to their personal and career goals (Rofcanin & Mehtap, 2010). Delegating tasks, in this case, is about creating these opportunities to allow the subordinates to experience challenges that will enable them to grow towards their set goals. Leaders who delegate responsibilities to their subordinates motivate and inspire them, making them happier and increasing their potentials within the organization (Schyns & Day, 2010). At Chatsworth- Erickson Living, numerous responsibilities often require supervision or follow up. Ms. Doyle delegates most of these responsibilities to her subordinates depending on the relevance of the task to the subordinate’s chosen career path. Those who are interested in health care management are often tasked with supervising inspections and delivers within the health care department while those interested in general management are assigned tasks that are general in scope (Salahuddin, 2010). Basically, this COO focuses on creating opportunities that challenge and empower her subordinates to not only reduce her workload but also to enable these subordinates to grow.


The leadership style applied in the Chatsworth- Erickson Living organization is a combination of transactional and transformational leadership as would be applied by a situational leader. Ms. Doyle has managed to stay with the organization for about 14 years, and so far she has been able to engineer a number of positive developments not only in terms of the organization but also with the employees under her leadership. The selling styles of leadership prove effectiveness of the company’s change management practices as demanded during the implementation of strategic plans. The telling styles of leadership are also particularly effective when the COO is trying to save the company from any possible risks. To ensure that everything is done correctly, Ms. Doyle offers detailed instructions that must be followed to the letter. As for the participative style of leadership, this company’s COO is known to join hands with the health care teams from time to time in order to bond with them and ensure that they understand their importance to the organization. This helps to motivate and inspire the company’s health care department, especially considering how hectic their work within the organization is. Delegating then falls in the transformational leadership category where the company is able to breed its future leaders by exposing them to challenges that they are likely to face when they become leaders. Overall, Ms. Doyle’s leadership style is very effective for Chatsworth- Erickson Living.

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