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Number of years in management: 5-10 years.

Degree/Institution: MSW, Columbia University.

Tell us about your path to management:

I identified an interest in social work management while still in graduate school. While initially I went into social work looking to do clinical work, Columbia University offered a special concentration in administration which I wound up choosing in my advanced year. I was lucky to be paired with an excellent supervisor who challenged me and let me take on a lot of responsibility. Since then I have taken positions with increasing amount of responsibility, leading to my current role as an assistant vice president of a behavioral health department with more than 300 staff.

 
What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals? 
I believe commitment and drive are the ultimate factors that allow me to be successful in what I do. No matter how difficult a specific task or project may be, if I dedicate myself to completing it I can find a way!  I have also found that developing and utilizing a flexible leadership and management style - depending on the organizational culture, the individual people involved, or just the situation - is a key factor in reaching my goals.
 
How do you motivate your team members?  
 It is important to be understanding and empathic, but firm. I also try to lead by example; by showing my team members that I am not above discussing the details of a task when requested, they respond in kind.  I think it is also important to always consider professional development – to point out the ways that each assignment helps individual team members meet their own personal goals. 
 
Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey? 
My boss, Virna Little, who is the Institute's senior vice president, has been a mentor for me since my advanced year internship. While our styles may differ in some areas, I appreciate her ability to communicate vision and inspire others. Since I am a much more task oriented person, she helps me maintain the “higher level view” of whatever I am working on.
 
How has networking impacted your career?
Meeting other social workers doing different or similar things has shown me new ways of having an impact that I would not have come across otherwise. You also never know when you may meet someone working on a project where there is a potential synergy. I have taken my career in some unexpected paths as a result of partnerships I formed through networking.
 
What are you reading and/or following now (e.g. book, blog, social media groups, etc.)?
I follow a lot of the health care reform news in New York. Crain's is a great resource. I am also active on Linked In.
 
What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Don't be afraid to try something new. Some of the aspects of my career that I have enjoyed and developed the most are areas that I never would have thought I would have an interest in 10 years ago. Don’t have any preconceived notions about what you want or need to do- be open to change!
 
Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
I am a strong advocate of patient centered care and specifically a practice called collaborative documentation. This means involving patients in the writing of their progress notes, and helping involve them directly in their electronic medical record.  A lot of social workers are averse to this practice at first, thinking the computer will get in the way of the clinical relationship – but actually, studies have shown this practice to improve patient engagement significantly!
 
What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
Social work is a challenging career; you may not always get the respect from other disciplines that you feel you deserve. You may need to work a little bit harder to get others to take you seriously. 
 
What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Early in my management career I thought it was always helpful to help others when they were in a bind - to always be generous in the workplace. However, this showed me time and again that it did not help build individual responsibility in others. Sometimes, you need to let others "fail" in order to learn how to do things better, or more efficiently. Now I approach management in a different way - by encouraging and assisting instead of always just doing for others. It’s also important to know your own limits and know when to delegate to others.
 
 

 
 To contact Jordana Rutigliano for any inquiries please email her at JRutigliano@institute.org.

*The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Network for Social Work Management.

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