Leadership: The Most Mission-Critical Feature of a Successful Senior Housing Community

by Jerry Meyer

The general manager or executive director is the most important person in the business of providing care and services to the aged, period. That person significantly trumps everybody else in the organization. It is because the GM is the cultural head of the basic element of our industry-the individual community. Aegis Living, for example, almost exclusively hires from the hotel industry, thus helping to ensure it has the people who have the big, caregiver heart to affect residents’ lives. They have the foundation for delivering great service, maximizing owners’ investments.

One caveat: We are in an interesting business where the “customer” and the “consumer” are usually different people. Often, the customer is the adult child, the consumer is always the resident. That means two generational experiences to consider. The generational experience of the adult child will be, in many cases, similar to that of management staff at the community. A true leader moves between those two dimensions and does it compassionately.

Hotel and hospitality executives and managers understand this key differential in the seniors business. In addition, the average length of stay in senior living may well be several years, but in the lodging industry it is only a matter of days. The successful hospitality industry manger adapts to this perspective, creating an effective management system in senior housing.