Psychiatrist Administrator VI: A Few Concluding Thoughts

December 6th, 2010 by gelenberg Leave a reply »

Being an administrator or manager usually implies that people report to you. There are physicians, other professionals, or administrative staff whom you hire, supervise, promote, and can discharge. What motivates them?

Most of us need to work, to earn “a living.” We need to put bread on the table and a roof over our heads. But beyond attaining the basics of survival, people work to give their lives structure and meaning. For many of us, work defines who we are. It provides a social network, a sense of goodness and efficacy.

Most people want to believe in what they are doing, to share in a good mission. The effective leader communicates mission, vision, and values—and ensures that every decision the organization makes is consistent with them. A good leader solicits input from all staff in regular meetings, which achieves “buy-in” and gives the leader multiple sources of information and advice. Being a good listener and communicator doesn’t slow a leader down or weaken the leader. Quite the contrary. People want to feel as if they are making a difference. And the staff in a vibrant, functional organization feels needed, valued, respected, and motivated. These are people more likely to “go the extra mile.” They will appreciate a bonus or pay raise, but they will understand clearly and frankly communicated budget constraints that keep salaries flat and be less likely to leave. They are more likely to go home each day feeling good and return to work with enthusiasm and optimism.

In the army I learned that a good leader doesn’t think about himself or impressing the boss. A good leader keeps the focus on mission and people.

- Alan J. Gelenberg, M.D.
Biological Therapies in Psychiatry
Professor and Chair, Psychiatry, Penn State University
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry


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