The New Leadership Skill Needed in Post-COVID Era

For ages, managers and executives in all industries have been taught skills to improve employee productivity, employee engagement, verbal communication, accountability and employee satisfaction, and more. However, none of these skills prepared leaders to manage employees’ emotional stress over this past year of COVID.

Prior to the pandemic, “Emotional Wellness” wasn’t a top priority for most leaders to understand or learn. Not the case anymore. Paying attention to the mental wellness of your team now is not an option. It’s a must.

What exactly is emotional wellness? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.

Like it or not, due to COVID, emotional wellness is now a workplace issue and therefore, a leadership issue. If your senior living organization wants engaged, motivated, and high functioning employees, your leaders will need to teach how to improve emotional wellness. Today, your team needs the ability to survive and thrive amidst turbulence and stress in work and life.

What are Some Components of Emotional Wellness?

  • Resilience: Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well and bouncing back in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or high stress. Becoming more resilient not only helps us get through difficult times, it also empowers us to grow and even improve life along the way.
  • Optimism: Having optimism is having hope and finding that silver lining in a bad situation. It’s about having confidence in a better future. Benefits of optimism include more positive emotions, higher morale, and strong healthy relationships.
  • Positive Attitude: Having a positive attitude can help us push through rough patches. Positive people see multiple solutions to problems and make better decisions. An upbeat attitude can also inspire and uplift those around us.
  • Healthy Assertiveness: Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for your own needs while also respecting the rights and integrity of others. Managing these boundaries is challenging even in the best of circumstances, but in a pandemic, it’s that much harder. Know what you need to do to feel comfortable and share it with others.

Creating an Environment of Emotional Wellness at Your Senior Living Organization

How can your leadership create an environment of emotional wellness? and our senior care executive candidates offer some successful approaches:

  • Ask & Respond. Don’t assume everything is okay. Begin your conversation with team members by letting them know that it’s okay to be stressed. Be open and transparent. Welcome all questions.
  • Check-In Often. Be consistent with your concern and know it’s not a one and done conversation. Check in with them often and show that you care and have compassion and empathy.
  • Open-Up. While you may be cool and calm during a crisis, this demeanor can come across to others that nothing is wrong. Be open and acknowledge a difficult situation. Don’t be afraid to show your humanity and allow your team to be open and express concerns.
  • Show Gratitude. Close your meetings and conversations with gratitude. In times of uncertainty, a little gratitude can go a long way. If your team is battling fears about a situation or future situation, chances are good these worries affect both their home life and professional career. Almost every employee needs to hear that their dedication and hard work have been noticed and they matter.
  • Manage Expectations. You may need to reset or change your expectations right now. This past year has been uncharted territory and we’re all trying to digest it. Senior living healthcare professionals along with other essential workers have the highest rates of burnout, physical and mental stresses. Allow for some flexibility right now and show understanding.
  • Understand What Your Team Values. Make an effort to understand what your team members value individually. Check in with each team member to learn what’s happening in everyone’s life and what’s important to them right now. This is where you active listening skills are needed.
  • Notice Behavior Changes. If you notice a shift in behavior, it means something is up. Don’t ignore it. Now’s the time to listen, empathize, and show concern.

To further explain emotional wellness and for resources to improve it, check out the NIH emotional wellness tool kit.

Now is the time for leadership development programs to incorporate emotional wellness into their teachings. Those senior living organizations that do, will thrive in 2021.  They will also be positioned to stay very competitive into the future.



Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since then, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Her specialties include filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry.  She previously worked in operations for both Senior Housing and Senior Living prior to founding MedBest. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.

(Julie’s industry articles and interviews have been published in Provider Magazine, Argentum Quarterly, LeadingAge Magazine, Florida Health Care Association, Florida Assisted Living Association, Florida Senior Living Association, LeadingAge Florida, LeadingAge Indiana, Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Oregon Health Care Association, and Virginia Assisted Living Association.)

Contact Julie Rupenski at / 727-526-1294.


senior living job searchABOUT MEDBEST

MedBest is a national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry established in 2001.  We recruit and acquire exceptional senior care talent, permanent and interim executives, for all types of Senior Living Organizations and Communities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Contact MedBest at / 727-526-1294



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