Just Call Me Mrs. CEO

If I were named CEO, which will probably happen in three to four years tops, my immediate to-do list would be as follows:

1. Get a door for my cubicle. Or at least some decorative beads for the entryway.

2. Institute Macaroni Mondays. One box per employee, strictly of the shell variety. I like it when the cheese gets trapped inside.

3. Commission an artist to paint a window with pretty scenery and a big sun in the background on one of my cube walls since I have no access to a real window or any sort of sunlight.

4. Amend the dress code to include sneakers. Or earmark several thousand dollars of the company’s money for the day when I need surgery to treat the spider veins that will inevitably crop up after too many years wearing heels to work.

5. Host weekly readings of APTly Spoken, followed by a Q&A session and blog signing with the author. The demand is there.

These dreams—near and dear to my heart as they may be—are precisely why I am a staff writer and not a CEO. Still, from time to time all of us think about what it would be like to have one of those coveted and powerful three-letter job titles. And at one apartment management company, employees are encouraged to do just that.

In the April issue of units, Greg Lozinak, EVP and COO of Waterton Residential, discusses the importance of pushing community managers to think like corporate CEOs. They may not have the giant corner office with a view—or, in my case, a corner cubicle with a view of beige walls on wheels—but they are running $15 million businesses.

Since his arrival in 2007, Lozinak has empowered Waterton’s more than 30 managers to run their communities as if they were the Chief Executives of their businesses. With every asset in the portfolio worth millions, each Community Manager is functionally the CEO (which at Waterton means “Community Executive Officer”).

Promoting this CEO mentality has inspired managers to perform better—a mindset that has trickled down to the company’s other employees. Under the CEO title, Lozinak says Property Managers are held to a higher standard and tend to make responsible decisions as a result. In other words, no Macaroni Mondays.

Lozinak’s employees say they are what they are perceived as being—and in their case, that’s CEO. They make tough decisions every day as if they were investing their own money and with the knowledge that their supervisors have confidence in their abilities. Decision making, in turn, is viewed from a broader perspective.

Community managers are the face of the property management company’s brand, trendy heels and spider veins to boot, and if they’re not the embodiment of the brand, Lozinak says the company’s credibility is shot.

It’s a real shocker I haven’t made it to the top yet.

For more on Waterton Residential’s unique philosophy, check out Greg Lozinak’s article, “You’re The CEO,” in the April issue of units, which mailed April 8. The e-version is now available.