If there’s one thing I know to be true after more than three decades in business, it’s this: people perform best for leaders who genuinely care for them. Of course, a competitive edge matters, and the bottom-line matters, but an organization that does not exhibit care does itself a huge disservice because people really matter. People need to feel cared for.

Today, an ethos of care permeates everything Greystone does. Our goal is to display care for those in the immediate world around us as well as those at great distances. Care affects every decision I make at Greystone, and I believe it is the only way to run an organization for the long term. Even if it isn’t, that’s just who I am and who we are as a company. People matter.

Meet or Accommodate Personal Needs

Feeling cared for and important prepares the soil of one’s psyche for inspirational ground-breaking thinking.

Managing and leading people is a serious responsibility. We all want to do our jobs well, but each of us has large concerns weighing on our minds when we come to work, whether our families, our careers, our health or other things. A good leader recognizes the deeper concerns of the people in their charge and does their best to attend to these needs. This could mean shifting a workload so a personal issue can be handled. Sometimes rearranging a team structure or job description so that an individual can go back to school or address health issues is all that is necessary to solve challenges.

The genuine effort to address these needs, whether successful or not, is critical. It conveys esteem and importance to the individual.

At Greystone, we endeavor to have flexible schedules for parents and others without anyone feeling guilty or any career penalty. We make extraordinary accommodations for employees when a desired treatment is not covered by insurance.

When you accommodate people’s needs in a generous, quiet way – not begrudgingly – you demonstrate genuine care for the whole person, not just the team member’s ability to complete a to-do list. Showing interest in, and care for, how colleagues are faring outside of the office, is the right way to treat others. And in my experience, it generally results in better performance for the entire team or organization.

Offer Opportunities

None of us knows everything. While leaders and managers often let team members “own” specific projects, many lack the confidence to step back completely and let others run the show.

Our affordable preservation business is a great example of this. Tanya Eastwood was working on something completely different at Greystone when I tapped her to build out an offering that recapitalizes and redevelops rural affordable housing properties across the U.S. These are properties that provide shelter to some of our most vulnerable populations – the disabled or elderly on fixed incomes – and face obsolescence due to the age of the buildings. Financed with a little-known USDA loan product and lot of orchestration between bond issuers, agency lenders, equity partners, and the cooperation of thousands of residents, today Tanya’s group is the largest rural housing developer in the U.S. Tanya’s capability and passion for what she does is inspiring: she was just named one of the most influential women in affordable housing by Affordable Housing Finance and was the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) “Member of the Year” for 2018.

Thanks to Tanya’s ownership and execution, we identified a niche and are excelling at it, and we are preserving shelter for thousands of people. This is a true example of a business idea taking on a life of its own when given the room to grow.

Caring Leads to Creative Solutions

This industry provides homes to millions of people in this country, and should be leading the way when it comes to finding creative solutions for addressing one of our most pressing societal issues: affordable housing.

In 2014, we launched Harmony Housing, a national 501(c)3n organization that purchases affordable properties around the country and utilizes all of its cashflow to support families in its properties, purchase additional properties, and distribute funds to the broader community through charitable giving. I believe the Harmony Housing model can improve access to affordable rental housing everywhere.

Harmony Housing acquires affordable housing assets nearing the end of their initial tax credit compliance periods, meaning, the rents in these properties could rise - sometimes astronomically - and as a result dramatically alter and upset the lives of many residents. In acquiring these assets, Harmony Housing maintains that affordability. To date, Harmony Housing has acquired more than 50 properties totaling 8,000 units in cities such as Austin, Raleigh, N.C., Orlando, Fla. and Milwaukee, Wis..

A Legacy Beyond the Bottom Line

Giving back to the global community and serving others has been part of Greystone’s DNA since day one. Year after year, we hold an annual day of service and host year-round local philanthropic initiatives.

Today’s Greystone is a result of a wonderful culture we’ve created. If there is any secret to our success at Greystone, it is that people recognize this is a place where we engage at the heart level, caring for others whether they are employees, clients, or a part of our larger community.

The results speak for themselves. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Greystone would have more than 6,000 employees throughout the US, and consistently be a top lender for multifamily, seniors and healthcare assets. I truly believe this result is a testament to the power of loving and caring leadership.