Lessons in Leadership from Home Care in Australia

Stephen Tweed | February 3, 2016 | Newsroom
By Stephen Tweed What can CEOs of home care companies learn from leaders in other countries? Elizabeth and I had the opportunity to explore that this past week as we spent two days working with one of the largest family owned home care companies in Australia.  Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care, based in Erina,…

By Stephen Tweed

EJ, SCT, Team on lobbyWhat can CEOs of home care companies learn from leaders in other countries?

Elizabeth and I had the opportunity to explore that this past week as we spent two days working with one of the largest family owned home care companies in Australia.  Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care, based in Erina, NSW, Australia serves over 2,000 clients with four levels of in-home care.  Max Riaz, their General Manager, reached out to us at the same time we were planning our trip down under, so the timing was perfect for us to work with them.

We spent two days in their offices on the Central Coast of Australia, about 50 miles north of Sydney.  The first day we met with the four top executives to talk about home care in America and how they can learn from our systems.  Home care in Australia is paid for by the government, and they are moving from a case managed type system to a “Consumer Directed Care” model. This means there will be more competition for patients and more companies competing for market share.

Ej SpeakingThe second day, we presented workshops on “Creating an Exceptional Customer” for the executive team, and “Capture the Caller: turning inquiries into admissions” for their entire office team and regional managers.   The workshop participants were energized, open to learning, and excited to have us there to share strategies and ideas to grow their business.

In an email the day after our workshop, Sue said to Elizabeth, “We very much enjoyed your visit. Both you and Stephen are wonderful speakers.  Thank you again.”

Lessons We Learned

While we came to be the teachers, we always learn from working with companies like this.  As I told both groups, “We have a policy in our company.  We only work with the winners, because the losers don’t call. The people who really need to be doing what you are doing don’t call.  They are busy struggling in their businesses.”  We are so blessed that the companies who choose to work with us are already winners, doing so many things well.

This was clearly the case with Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care.  For the past 30 years they have been growing an amazing company with a clear vision, a strong culture, and superior performance.  As I reflected on what we had learned from them, here are three lessons for home care leaders in the U.S.:

I. Have a Clear Vision

You’ve heard me talk about the importance of having a clear vision.  This company was a bit different than most as they craft a five-year vision. They are now in the process of Visioneering the next five years as they have fulfilled their 2015 vision.

“In 2015, we have innovated and embraced Consumer Directed Care by introducing our myhomecare service model.  By developing our team and engaging our workforce, we have delivered on our brand promise:  Personalized Care by people who care.”

II. Have a Strong Culture

At Leading Home Care, we define corporate culture as “the way we do things around here.”  Your culture is formed by four factors:

Sue Mann Logo shadow

  1. The Leadership Style of the CEO
  2. The core values of the company
  3. The behavior you expect
  4. The behavior you permit

In her executive development programs, Elizabeth tells leaders, “what you permit, you promote.”

Sue Man Nursing and Community Care has a very strong culture because of the leadership style of their founder, Sue Mann, and because they are living their values every day.

III. Be Distinctly Different

In the highly competitive world of home care, whether in the U.S. or Australia, creating distinction is critical.  What is it that makes your agency different from all of the others in your local market?  As we studied the strategy of Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care, we saw a clear distinction based on their Brand Promise, their constant focus on personalized service, their focus on having a team of high performing, long-service employees.

Brand Promise

As we talked about the brand promise, Sue told us about how they changed to this from their original promise; “Personalized care from nurses who care.”  When she started it was primarily a nursing service, but as their home care model expanded, they shifted the language to include all of their people.

What does that say to you?  What do you need to do to fulfill your promise and truly create distinction?

More Lessons from the Home Care CEO Forum

As we move through 2016, we’ll have more lessons about the process of creating Strategic Focus, and we’ll have more lessons learned from our new friends at Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care.  We’ll also have more lessons from the other wonderful companies who are part of the Home Care CEO Forum.  This CEO Forum is the new place where C-suite Executives in home care connect to share ideas, solve problems, and develop strategies for growth.

We are putting the final touches on our brand new web site, so keep an eye out for your chance to take a look around and learn more about how you can connect with other CEOs in the top tier of home care.

CEO Forum leaves inside



Stephen Tweed
Stephen Tweed, CSP, began his journey as a business strategist in home health care in 1982. Today, Stephen is among the top thought leaders in Home Care strategy and management. He has worked with top 5% companies from across the US. He is a sought after speaker at from national and state association events.

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