Zach Guerin, COO of Foothills Regional Housing, joined me on our Servant Leadership Podcast to discuss leadership in the affordable housing industry. His straightforward and team-focused approach is refreshing. After several years in the hospitality industry and housing agency, he was recruited by Foothills Regional Housing where he began his leadership journey.
Internal & External
Guerin says that affordable housing is “nowhere different from conventional housing. We are simply providing a housing option for those that do not have income like many other Americans”. All housing authorities are doing vital work, but Guerin understands that the gap housing authorities work to close is a matter of equity within housing.
In leadership, it is easy to believe our work is special, and it is. However, a great leader should be customary in all organizations because that is what is needed. Leaders offer equity in the workplace, just like the external world. We must acknowledge that support is personalized which can lead us to a strong and efficient team. Guerin said, “We must care for both our internal and external customers”. We both agreed this mindset comes from being in the hospitality industry.
The Support of A Leader
“I see my role as a leader as more of a support role. My main function is to make sure they [my team] can function”. Simple yet powerful. To all the young leaders, take note. For someone his age, Guerin has leadership figured out. He realizes why he is here and how he will be successful to those around him. Our purpose is not an easy thing to figure out. It took me years to be true to my path and figure out what I am meant to do/be as a leader.
Zach also reminds his generation, “it is okay to have new, innovative thoughts. And also be open, teachable, and trainable”. He knows his age group can be a bit impatient and quick to get things done. He says that he had such great mentors because they saw his desire to learn and listen.
When asked what one thing he believes leaders need to know about and let go of, he said, “Managers say ‘my way or the highway’, yet this does not work nor does it promote growth. Listen for why things are the way they are and listen to understand.”
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