Top 5 Characteristics of a Great Funeral Home Leader

The funeral profession is in the business of compassion. Each day emotions are high, and every action of a funeral home leader can have a lasting impact on client families and your staff. Therefore, being a funeral home leader isn’t just about managing a business but being a part of client families during an impactful and challenging time of their lives.

Everyone has strengths. We aren’t perfect, but we have certain qualities that stand out over others. You may not have every strength you desire, but you can lean into the strongest ones you do have. 

We researched various blog posts and stories of funeral professionals to identify what we think are the top, and most commonly mentioned, strengths or characteristics of a funeral home leader. Keep reading to discover the top five characteristics.



1. Empathy

Simply put, empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of another. Don’t get empathy confused with sympathy. Brené Brown explains the difference well in this short animated video. It’s easy to show sympathy for your client families in their most challenging time. Showing empathy, however, means you demonstrate understanding of their challenges. Getting on their level and sharing that emotion helps your families feel heard, understood and comforted.

This may be the most commonly mentioned trait a funeral leader should have. If this isn’t your strength, the good news is that there are ways to practice empathy. Start with having conversations with a wide range of people about their feelings and experiences. Empathy is about trying on new perspectives.

2. Good Communication

Clear communication is essential, and remember: it must go both ways. Leaders must convey information effectively to their team, service providers and grieving families. But they should also be good listeners. Sometimes, this is all a family needs — an empathetic ear. Letting the family talk can also be a great way to pick up on unspoken needs. These cues may help you provide a creative and personal service for their loved one.

If you want to strengthen your communication with client families, read more in this blog post.

3. Adaptability

This must seem like an easy one. You never know when a call is going to come in, so your profession is based on flexibility. Not every funeral is the same, and neither are the wishes of grieving families. A great leader adapts to the unique needs and customs of each family they serve. Here are some innovative ways that we found forward-thinking funeral homes are staying ahead

4. Creativity

The smallest oversights can be magnified in the context of a funeral. Remember earlier when we mentioned listening as a key skill? That can play into designing a deeply personal and meaningful service for a family. A great funeral home leader is meticulous and ensures every detail is attended to, from the time of the service down to the arrangement of the flowers.

Personalizing a service helps families find comfort in happy memories of their loved one’s unique characteristics and stories. Those special touches will help you earn your clients’ satisfaction, referrals and positive reviews. People who attend the services will also take note of the extra care you took to make the experience meaningful. There are many low-cost ways to personalize a service, and it could be as simple as sending the family home with a box to fill with mementos.

5. Development

Finally, a great leader is always learning. Continuing your education ensures you are staying focused and driven. Attend a conference. Sign up for one of our continuing education courses. Subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter. Make a point to invest in yourself at least every six months.

We know you can’t be it all. Remind yourself of that. No one can be everything to everyone, so give yourself some grace. You may not have all of these characteristics, but you have resources around you to be the best version of yourself. We all have strengths, so know yours and lean on your staff to fill in the gaps.

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