By Steve Moran

Being an executive director of a senior living community is hard. And it can be the best job in the world or a living, walking, breathing nightmare. But in most communities, it is someplace in between.

  1. There are not enough naturally good executive directors in the marketplace. Mostly individuals become great executive directors because they are naturally good and are constantly thinking about how to be better at what they do. On the other hand, you only need enough to staff your communities.
  2. Your job descriptions are blah … or worse. This could mean one of two things: A) The description is accurate and the job is blah, or B) you have just not written a job description that adequately describes how great the position is.
  3. Your hiring process is a turn-off. The more friction we create for job applicants, the fewer applicants you will see. In particular, the really good ones will decide it is not worth it and simply move on.
  4. You are not networking right. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of really talented executive directors out there right now, who are working for companies that don’t deserve them. You can never meet enough people! The more people you know, the more opportunities for you to hire the right people.
  5. You are not giving your executive directors room to run. The best executive directors want to work in organizations where they can make a difference leveraging their own leadership style. It may be that you are keeping them from performing at their highest level.
  6. Good executive directors are made, not born. This may seem contradictory to #1. While there are some naturally good leaders, there are many more people who can be grown into great executive directors with strong mentoring and leadership development. It is worth the investment. It will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional income each year.
  7. You’re not the boss people want to work for. Ask yourself: Would you want to work for you? Are you supporting your team members, helping them grow? If you become the boss everyone wants to work for, you will have the best executive directors in the industry.
  8. You are looking for executive director clones. Often people say they want an extraordinary executive director, but then the only acceptable candidates are just like everyone else. For instance, I am not sure anyone would hire me to be an executive director because I am too old and don’t have the “required experience.” While I am not looking for a new job, I promise I could transform your worst performing building … if you would simply get out of my way.
  9. You don’t stand for anything. If your mission is ordinary, your culture is ordinary, your workplace is ordinary, and you have no dream for changing the world of senior living, don’t be surprised when your candidates are ordinary. Take a stand. Be committed to being something special, and you will attract the right people.

That’s the list. Figure these things out, and you will have the best executive directors in the world and the highest performing communities in the country.