Our associates are the heart of everything we do. Their passion for creating joy-filled, safe environments at our senior living communities shines through the work they do every day, and we’re proud to call them part of our family.
We spoke with James Lee, Executive Director at Brookdale San Antonio, to learn more about his role and the meaning he finds in his work.
Q: Tell us about your role as an Executive Director. What are some of your responsibilities?
James: I lead our team in ensuring that our mission statement is, in fact, our day-to-day operational practice. I have tried to synthesize my responsibilities into three major categories: serving our residents, empowering our associates and growing our business. They are all equal and connected goals.
Q: How do you typically spend your days at Brookdale San Antonio?
James: Not to split hairs over wording, but I don’t think of it as spending my days, but rather investing my days. This distinction helps me to be productive and not just busy.
I start each day with a review of the upcoming day’s priorities and take care of any email communication. Then I divide my time into one of two things: investing in relationships (i.e. listening to an associate, coaching a manager, calling a family, engaging with a resident, etc.) or investing in business processes (i.e. collaborative care review, sales and marketing analysis, financial review, etc.).
The day ends with a final round of email communication and rounds with associates in each department. When I’m seated, my focus is on strategy. When I’m walking, it’s on building relationships.
Q: Did you always know this role was an option for you, and is it something you had in mind for your career?
James: I absolutely saw this role as an option. The moment I fell in love with senior living as a caregiver, I knew that being an Executive Director would one day be a critical step in my career. My goal has always been to positively impact the way our world regards aging, and I have learned that the quality of an Executive Director is the linchpin that holds that promise together.
Q: What do you feel is the most rewarding part of your job?
James: Each day, I, along with my team, am rewarded with a tangible sense of achievement and service in equal measure. Of course, it feels great to know that I’ve helped a resident or a family member, but truthfully, I feel the most reward when I see that an associate has been inspired to do more than they thought they were capable of in serving others. An ED has the capacity to either make each role feel like a job or, alternatively, a calling.
Q: What have you enjoyed the most about working for Brookdale?
James: I have really been appreciative of the opportunity to travel the country with my work for Brookdale. When I was in a training and development role, I flew all over the United States visiting communities, working with leadership at all different levels and meeting associates from all corners of the world. This invaluable experience helped me to deeply appreciate how connected we all are in this profession. Hearts for service tend to beat at the same tempo.
Q: What advice would you give to others considering an Executive Director role with Brookdale?
James: Hone your skills in emotional intelligence. People tend to get hung up on practical matters like getting certifications, gaining business experience, learning about clinical regulations, etc. While these are certainly important, they pale in comparison to your relationship management skills.
As an ED, you have dozens of people who can help you with financial reports, systems, licenses and more. But no one can help you build trust with an associate, deescalate family tension during a visit, inspire managers to work toward a common cause, and other matters of interpersonal dynamics that truly make the difference at a community.
Along these lines, assess — then build — your set of leadership skills through each role leading up to your application for an ED role. Don’t just build a resume of responsibilities; build a record of achievements and the skills utilized to earn them.
Working with Brookdale isn’t just a job — it’s a passion. If you’re interested in enriching the lives of seniors nationwide through a career with Brookdale, browse current openings now!