Leading Organizational Leadership by Example

CFO Scott Estes reveals his secrets to internal success during Welltower’s incredible growth

With equity market capital growing from $1 billion to $24 billion in the space of one decade, Welltower Inc., a leading healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT), is no stranger to extended periods of growth. Likewise, chief financial officer Scott Estes has developed a familiarity with the leadership needs of such a booming company.

“If you’re going to be successful during a period of rapid growth, to me it’s all about letting go and allowing key people to lead their respective parts of the organization in the context of the greater strategic objectives,” Estes says.

“It’s important to have more of these kind of people giving 110 percent rather than everyone being forced to give 150 percent and burning out quickly because they’re spread too thin.”

As those corporate goals and strategies evolve, so do the day-to-day demands of the employees. Empowerment is key to that evolution, Estes says, as are well-built teams and something he calls “appropriate redundancy.” He keeps team members informed and apprised of strategy; their job is to pass it on, keeping everyone on the same proverbial page in regards to what matters most.

Considering Welltower’s staff has grown from thirty people to nearly 500 since 2003, there’s clearly something noteworthy in this approach. “We’re not huge, but if you think just in terms of people, the pace of change for us has been extraordinary,” Estes says.

That change also applies to Estes himself. In adjusting his delegation needs so that outside consultants now handle some of his responsibilities, the CFO sees a crucial part of his leadership philosophy rooted in the power of putting the right people in the right positions.

“It’s important to have more of these kind of people giving 110 percent rather than everyone being forced to give 150 percent and burning out quickly because they’re spread too thin,” Estes says.

It’s also important for leaders to be keenly aware of how they spend time driving an organization forward and to share that sort of awareness with their team, according to Estes. He says, “You can leverage your time a lot more effectively if you empower people the right way.”