Behavioral healthcare is facing a leadership crisis. As the old guard moves into retirement, too few younger professionals have the skills and experience to lead the field as it faces the usual challenges and adjusts to new ones. In this issue, we present several perspectives on how behavioral healthcare can better prepare its next generation of leaders. One important message is that leadership development should be an ongoing process, part of your everyday interactions with staff.
Serving as a mentor is one way to promote leadership qualities. I can attest to the value of mentoring from personal experience. My mentor is someone you may know, Behavioral Health Management's former editorial director Richard Peck. Without Richard's guidance, I would not be in charge of this magazine today. He took an interest in helping me develop not only my editorial skills, but also my ability to manage and work well with others. He taught this eager (perhaps sometimes too eager) greenhorn the value of patience, listening, and careful analysis. He gave me advice, but also let me learn from my mistakes. Richard has been my source of professional consultation since I graduated from college, and I consider his input invaluable for my professional growth—and for the direction of Behavioral Healthcare.
I think Richard would agree that he benefits from our mentoring relationship, as well. Perhaps I have given him some new ideas. Maybe I have helped him see something from a different perspective. And hopefully my interest in my work has reenergized his zeal for his own.
Before I had a mentor, I saw mentoring as another fuzzy management concept that sounds good on paper but doesn't work as well in reality. How wrong I was. The value of mentoring, in fact, cannot be described adequately on paper. If you aren't mentoring someone, I urge you to reach out to a staff member who has potential. You'll both be glad you did.
Douglas J. Edwards, Editor-in-Chief