By Kent Mulkey

You’ve heard the misguided sayings that come from the mouths of so-called leaders: “First in, last out.” “A leader’s job is never done.” “It’s lonely at the top.”

Is this authentic leadership, or is it something else? Let’s look. How many job descriptions that come from corporate offices say, “Must be on call 24/7”? I have known plenty of EDs who keep their phone by the bed all night, waiting for an “emergency” they can jump to save with their cape on.

Here are a few observations of over-functioning executive directors:

    • They elevate their own importance as if the operation rises and falls on them.
    • They encounter burnout, which puts them “out the game” to build dynamic communities.
    • They don’t say no, and always say yes. Work begins to be left undone as EDs react to the urgent while letting more important things go by the wayside.
    • They lose the respect of the team for trying to “do it all”.

In my younger years, I was shocked to learn that when I left an executive director job it was like pulling your finger out of a glass of water. The space filled in immediately and the operation went on as if nothing ever happened. I became resentful that I had given so much of my life (all of it) to create a great community only to have it go on just fine without me when I left. Talk about humbling!

Perhaps you or someone you know is on the verge of or in the middle of burnout. Here are a few tips to make it through:

    • Don’t work for a company that tells you that you must be on call 24/7. It is reflective of a dysfunctional culture.
    • Don’t blame the company for your inability to say no.
    • Stop playing victim or being a martyr.
    • Develop a life outside of your job: hobbies, time with your family and friends.
    • Build a team that will share the load with you. Your team wants that!
    • Go home at a reasonable hour. The work will never be finished.

Here at Senior Living Foresight we are all in to keep executive directors and other leaders happy and healthy, impacting the lives of staff, residents, and families. You must say no to most things in order to say yes to the right things.