Jerald CoseyJerald Cosey is the Operational Leadership Development Director for American Senior Communities (ASC), the largest senior living and senior healthcare company in Indiana.

 His goal is to help develop leaders for the organization in three ways:

  1. Oversee the administrator-in-training cohort program that accepts both internal and external candidates.
  2. Coach 10 emerging operational leaders from a non-reporting position.
  3. Teach behavioral science for leaders, workforce behavior, and maximizing stakeholder communication and engagement.
He also serves as an industry advocate outside of Indiana as a speaker, thought leader, and senior advocate. Cosey is passionate about communicating the lessons learned by leaders and frontline senior health care workers throughout the pandemic.

Provider magazine: How did you become interested in the health care industry, and specifically senior care?

Jerald Cosey: I started as a volunteer while I was a pharmaceutical sales manager. I was part of that industry for 18 years. I started a senior ministry focused on minimizing isolation, named Graceful Moments, when I was downsized for the first time. The mission of Graceful Moments is to minimize isolation and listen, love, and learn from our revered elders.

PM: You previously served as Executive Director at Greenwood Meadows, with the organization winning a 2019 American Health Care Association's Silver Quality Award. What helped you the most on the journey to improve quality at Greenwood Meadows?

JC: My father often said nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. During the process of applying for the award, I learned five lessons.

  1. The value of continuous improvement. In such a highly regulated industry, it's easy to get overly concerned about documentation, root cause interventions, and the possibility of missing something important. The consequences can be unforgiving. It's imperative to always evaluate and audit systems used to maximize the care for others. A common trend throughout the application process requires providing details of how your facility captures, evaluates, and improves performance/outcomes. For every level of leadership and operational processes within an organization, continuous improvement and development is necessary and expected.
  2. Just start. In the beginning, I found the award application process intimidating. As operational and clinical leaders, our days are packed, leaving little time for non-mandatory tasks. I acknowledged that this application process would require time and effort. The action and effort slowly defeated the intimidation and sparked enthusiasm for capabilities of our facility.
  3. It's not about winning. With every advancement through the process, the pride for the facility, the care, and outcomes seem to bubble up daily. Early in the application process, we realized it was never about winning. The goal is to recognize the performance excellence of your facility; moreover, the performance excellence required to complete the application. When it's all said and done, we had already won by completing an application worthy of review.
  4. You are part of a professional community. The senior healthcare industry is loaded with resources and support. I will never forget being stumped by a question and calling a fellow administrator. She allowed me to vent, listened, and translated the question, helping me to understand. This industry is loaded with state health care associations and operational/clinical leaders, all of whom are committed to advancing quality healthcare and performance excellence.
  5. The industry is honorable. Professionally caring for people is a great responsibility and penetrates beyond business, careers, and professions. Honor comes from putting others' needs before your own. Moreover, caring for people who are held in high regard within a family can come with unreasonably high expectations. With that, continue doing your level best each day and performance excellence will follow.
PM: What trends do you see on the horizon for the senior health care sector?

JC: Category or position excellence doesn't automatically translate to leadership excellence. I believe the number one trend or need in our industry is being intentional with the development of leaders. Senior healthcare is a very emotionally demanding industry, and the last thing we need to do is lose outstanding talent from a lack of investment in their leadership.

I see leadership evolving to maximize communication and effectiveness between stakeholders. For example, many leaders tend to lead as they like to be led. Understanding your key stakeholder drivers for work satisfaction is critical for it allows the leader additional tools to maximize communication, effectiveness, and job satisfaction.

At American Senior Communities, we have committed to using the Predictive Index as the source of gathering this insight and leveraging tools to maximize understanding. For me, I like independence and flexibility. It doesn't mean I can't accept direction or formalities. However, I want my key stakeholders to know I receive job satisfaction when I can meet these needs in the workplace.

PM: How do you describe your leadership style? How do you build and refine those leadership skills?

JC: My teachable point of view on leadership: A leader separates themselves in the ability to embrace the philosophy of team—a team that is built upon respect for people, continuous improvement, and a high regard for results. All of which allow a leader to empower.

I always have a developmental plan. Every leader should have a developmental plan throughout every organization. I also have mentors and follow their guidance to grow my leadership skills.

PM: What advice do you give to someone just beginning a career in health care?

JC: Make time to document why you want to lead in this space. Senior healthcare is a very emotional and intimate career choice. You must know your why and embrace it to the core. It will prove to be your foundation on the day when your career choice comes into question.

You can't do everything by yourself so take the time to establish your vision and allow leaders to contribute to the development of the vision. I was never an expert in a specific department. I hired the best, built next-up talent, and leveraged departmental excellence.

Hear more from Jerald Cosey in a keynote session at the 2022 AHCA/NCAL Quality Summit, May 16-18 in Kissimmee, FL. For more in​formation and to register, click here.