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To Lead Is To Serve

“Heads in beds, heads in beds.”

There are some ugly aspects to the workings of a psychiatric hospital. One of these is that medical care has become big business, run by corporations and, unfortunately, psychiatry is no exception.

“More heads in beds, that’s what we need!”, one might hear a CEO shout. “When we have lots and lots of patients, then lots of problems can get solved!”

Well, yes, one problem that gets solved is more money for the investors.

Certainly, psychiatric hospitals need to exist to care for those who are struggling severely. But the constant corporate pressure and appetite to keep beds as full as possible led one CEO, years ago, to proclaim that we should keep patients in the hospital for extra days “if it will help.” He then chuckled and added, “That means, if it helps the corporation.” Sickening.

Great leaders and great corporations do best when they are there to serve others and give a top-notch product. I have worked with many CEOs in my career. The best are those who take a genuine interest in patient care, who walk every day onto the psychiatric ward and connect with the staff. CEOs who take the time; CEOs who inspire. CEOs who don’t regard a suffering human soul as another “head”.

CEOs are supposed to be leaders. Leadership is not holding oneself above those who work in the trenches. No, to lead is to serve. This sounds counterintuitive - and it is. Leadership is not about power because power inevitably corrupts.

Great leaders have a humility about them. They are able to embolden others because, more than anything else, they see the value of every human being

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