What does it take to become a leader in senior living? This is something I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about with the Argentum team and our members. I’m spurred, in part, by my participation at a large gathering of universities and senior housing providers. The purpose of this symposium was to expand university programs for senior living leaders, especially the executive directors and administrators who are so important to our communities.
When I consider this question, I’m struck by how much we still need to learn about what makes a leader in our business. Sure, we know what states require in terms of degrees and licensures. We know as companies what our prerequisites are to become executive directors and take part in leadership development programs. But those don’t get at the heart of what competencies and knowledge we really expect of our successful leaders.
The leaders I see in senior living exhibit a number of successful traits. They are deeply knowledgeable about caring for seniors and how to help them to thrive. Passionate about service. Fundamentally sound in their financial management. Inspiring with personnel. Terrific listeners who truly get to know residents and their families. How can these qualities be taught…and even more so, measured?
Argentum has been working toward answers. The Certified Director of Assisted Living (CDAL) demonstrates excellence across eight key domains. The Executive Director Leadership Institute has trained hundreds of executive directors on trends, best practices, and the future of senior living.
These tools can point the way toward better university programs. They lay out what we as employers value in our leaders. They can and should be the basis of training tied to careers in senior living.
Senior living providers have a lot to offer our education partners. We support training, whether directly or through scholarships and tuition reimbursement. We offer internships and co-ops. Many of us serve on advisory boards and visit classes and career fairs. To meet our needs for the next generation of leaders, we need to continue those activities, and even step up our engagement. In doing so, we should also remember that we have a say in the content of degree programs and our expectations for graduates.
It will take a collaboration, with senior living providers, universities, and associations like Argentum all playing an important role. Do it right, and we truly can build that pipeline of leaders.