The management philosophy of Behavioral Health Strategies is informed by the work of the Drucker Foundation, the writings of Robert K. Greenleaf whose work is now carried on by the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, and on the work of Max Depree (“Leadership is an Art”) and Ronald A. Heifetz of Harvard University.
A new awareness is taking place in the world of corporate and organizational endeavors. This awareness has been fed by the dissatisfaction of workers who are seeking deeper meaning in their jobs beyond material benefits. This dissatisfaction has also been heightened by the excessive greed and corruption of many large companies, and by the loss of creativity, job security, teamwork, and values. These problems now extend to all work milieus – business, education, government, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector. The problems are numerous and complex, as are the new management paradigms meant to address them.
A starting point for Behavioral Health Strategies is to distinguish between authority, management, and leadership. A concept we have embraced with some modifications is that of “Servant Leadership.” Robert Greenleaf, a long-time executive with AT&T, created the concept of Servant Leadership after reading “The Journey to the East” by Hermann Hesse. From the story of the principal character in the book Greenleaf understood that there was a new way to understand leadership: leading by serving. Greenleaf described Servant Leadership as follows:
“The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test and and difficult to administer is do those served grow as persons, do they while being served become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely to become servants?”
(Robert K. Greenleaf, The Greenleaf Center, 1991)
The qualities of leadership embraced by Behavioral Health Strategies are based on the management experience of Harold Berberick, Principal of BHS and fleshed out by Robert Greenleaf and others, most of whom are referenced in the Management Bibliography on this website. The essential qualities are as follows:
Once an organization has established its leadership philosophy, then it must conceptualize its mission and articulate its vision and values, which are the framework that brings distinction and direction to the organization and guides all its members.
2. DEVELOP HIGH EXPECTATIONS
A culture of excellence must be engrained in the organization – that all activities from the most mundane tasks on up must be carried out in the most excellent manner possible.
3. EMPHASIZE RESULTS, NOT ACTIVITY.
All effort must lead to a concrete realization of organizational objectives.
4. THE SPEED OF CHANGE
The behavioral healthcare environment demands that all organizations adapt to the rapid transformation in understanding of best practice and service outcomes and all the technology that accompanies this.
5. NEED TO MODEL RESPECTFUL BEHAVIOR
The tough-minded servant leader understands that it is never necessary to treat others disrespectfully, that it is important to be tough on the issues while being respectful and understanding towards individuals.
6. TECHNICAL UNDERSTANDING
The servant leader in behavioral health must have a comprehensive understanding of the technical aspects of the behavioral health field. This extends to clinical protocols and best practice, managed care principles and practice, financial management, productivity standards for clinicians, quality improvement, regulatory requirements, human resources, contracting, etc.
7. EMPHASIS ON COMMUNICATION
Engaging in good communication is one of the most important qualities of an outstanding leader. Communication must:
A. Be ongoing
B. Be clear and concise
C. Make use of various formats
D. Be affirming, not authoritative
E. Not hide bad news
F. Emphasize philosophy and values
G. Follow through
8. USE OF DATA
The use of data documents how the organization is functioning and eliminates mistaken impressions about people. It also helps to eliminate micromanagement and layers of supervision.
9. DECISION MAKING
Authoritative decision-making is necessary in some situations. Strategic decision-making should be characterized by consultation, collaboration, listening, and receiving feedback from appropriate levels of the organization.
10. TOUGH-MINDED SERVANT LEADERS
Generate enthusiasm, are goal-oriented, compassionate and generous, flexible and also are fair, resilient, able to grow. They stick by their values and don’t give up.
Depree, Max, Leadership Is An Art, (New York: Dell Publishing), 1989.
Greenleaf, Robert K., Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, (New York: Paulist Press), 2002.
Heifetz, Robert A., Leadership Without Easy Answers, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), 1994.
Hesselbeim, Frances, Goldsmith Marshall, and Beckhard, Richard (Eds), The Leader of the Future, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), 1996.
Kouzes, Jim and Posner, Barry, The Leadership Challenge, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), 2002.
Spears, Larry (Ed), Insights on Leadership, (New York: John Wiley and Sons), 1998.