By Steve Moran

Think about the best executive director in your organization.

If you are an executive director, maybe that is you — or who you aspire to be. If you have executive directors, which members of your team are the best? Which one is the very best? The one with the highest occupancy, lowest turnover … who is easy to get along with — or maybe they aren’t, but they get things done, make things happen.

Next: How Would You Feel …?

What if that person left your organization? How would you feel if that happened? What would you do to fill that position? Would you examine your organization, your processes, your management system in order to figure out why good people leave?

How would you feel if 80%, 90%, or 100% of your executive directors were like your best one?

Better Executive Directors

As I talk to leaders, there seems to be a sense that great executive directors are like black swans: that they just show up, but you never know when — and that when you hire, you hope for the best but have only modest expectations, because there are just not enough great executive directors to go around.

The biggest problem is that right now, the number of great executive directors is dwarfed by the number of executive director jobs in the world of senior living. The question is this: What do you do about it?

Crossing Your Fingers Is Not Good Enough

Hoping for the best is not really that effective a strategy. There are some hiring managers who believe they can “tell” from an interview. Maybe, but the data would suggest this is not true. It takes a few things:

  1. Most important is that you need to take a hard look at your own organization. Is it one that a top executive director would really want to work in? If not, what can you do to change that? I recently heard a story about a top ED who accepted a position, then started digging into the way the company operates (they micromanage) and backed out.
  2. Create a hiring process that really examines prior performance and problem solving skills.
  3. Have a strong process for helping B level executive directors become A executive directors. Most of the content that is offered for CEUs is not strong enough or deep enough to make that happen. B level executive directors can become A’s.
  4. Create a path to becoming an executive director that does not include being a salesperson first. There are some great salespeople who ultimately become great executive directors, but these positions do not require the same skill set. There are people out there who would be great executive directors but terrible salespeople. There is not good path to make this happen in most organizations. And if it does exist, it too often forces people to accept inadequate pay. The bottom line becomes this: Anyone willing to take that little to become an executive director is probably not worth it.

At Foresight we are working on some things to help with much of this in the coming months.