How many times have you heard - “________ is a great clinician but a horrible boss/leader?” or maybe not heard it but you have thought it or said it to yourself.
OR maybe I hear it more than others because I am an independent clinical supervisor and I hold space with overwhelmed and frustrated counselors.
During these sessions, I try to remind the counselor that most clinicians who are placed in supervisory positions were not trained to lead. They were either forced into the position because of high turnover and no one else was there to do it or they were running low on fumes from direct service burnout and decided they would try their hand at being a supervisor/leader. In our masters programs, we are taught to be great clinicians but we are not taught how to lead.
On the other side, when I call out the leader inside of that counselor - the look of fear or deer in the headlights stare. As counselors, we are called to lead but at times we shrink back because we don’t want to be named as the “great clinician but horrible leader.” In our masters programs, we are taught to be clinicians but we are not shown how to take the same skills and become great leaders in our community and the profession.
During my doctoral studies, I researched leadership practices of Mental Health Counselors and leadership in the counseling profession. I posed a question, “are master’s level counselors adequately prepared for leadership roles in the profession?” The question posed could have been “do mental health counselors perceive themselves as leaders?”
I based my study on James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s Five Exemplary Leadership Practices. They have researched thousands of individuals about their “personal best” leadership experiences. They discovered five common practices that exemplary leaders engage:
Before I discuss each of the practices and define a leader, I want to leave this right here and ask you “Are you called to lead?” - leave a YES in the comments.
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