The senior living field is booming and shows no signs of slowing down as the baby boomer generation continues to age. Reports from Senior Housing News note that the senior living industry employed nearly 900,000 people just a few years ago, and that number is surely higher as we close out 2019. Even with all the employees currently serving seniors, there are still serious shortages of caregivers and leaders in the senior care field.
What does that mean for current senior living employees? Job security and leadership opportunities. If you are currently working in senior living, or have considered working in the industry and wondered whether you are ready to step into a leadership role, here is what you need to know.
What It Takes to Be a Leader
Some senior living community employees balk at the idea of taking on a leadership role. There’s too much pressure, too many extra responsibilities, and a great deal of headaches. However, taking on a leadership role doesn’t mean that you are drowning in responsibilities, meetings, and confrontations. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Leadership roles offer the opportunity to directly affect change and develop a culture that supports the seniors you already love to serve.
To step into a leadership role within a senior living community, you need to start with your passion for service. Even if you are brand new to management tasks like hiring, scheduling, and training, you can still be an effective leader if you are passionate about serving seniors and your team. After all, you can learn daily management tasks, but you can’t learn how to really care about those you serve.
In addition to passion, you should be flexible when you step into a leadership role. Senior care is busy, and no two days are the same. Flexibility allows you to provide your team with the tools and guidelines they need to provide exceptional service amid a busy or unpredictable day. Many leaders also need to work non-traditional schedules at some point, including weekends, evenings, or holidays. A flexible attitude will help you handle these expectations.
Finally, leaders are listeners and problem solvers. If you’ve ever worked a shift and thought, “I have another way to approach this situation,” you could be ready to step into a leadership role. Leaders look at daily challenges and listen to team members as they develop a solution.
Skills Leaders Have
Not everyone is ready to step into a leadership role within senior care. However, if you think you have what it takes, now is the time to focus on developing skills that will help you get the leadership job you’ve been eyeing.
If possible, start by leading where you are, in your current role and on your current shift. Not only will your supervisor notice and reward your initiative, but you will also gain experience with management skills such as staff scheduling, team building, and knowledge of the ins and outs of your department.
You can also build your skills by attending training and ongoing educational opportunities. Don’t miss an in-service within your senior living community, and ask if you can attend additional classes or groups outside of your community. Now could also be the time to pursue a complementary degree or certification.
Remember: No one necessarily thinks that they are ready to take on a leadership role their first time around. You won’t have every skill or everything it takes to be a perfect leader. However, you will have the passion and the commitment to learn as you go in order to find ways to better serve your residents, your team, and your community.
We are cheering you on! Senior care needs leaders who are willing to learn and ready to work hard.
If you are looking for senior care employment within a company that values leadership, flexibility, and a readiness to learn, join our Talent Network. You can keep up with The Arbor Company, learning best practices from one of senior care’s foremost leaders.