Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D & Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA
Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA
Brett DiNovi & Associates
As the field of behavior analysis rapidly grows, many newly certified Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are leaping into new roles. In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, a roundtable discussion goes through this exact situation and gives practical tips to avoid pitfalls and become a well-respected leader.
When moving into leadership roles, the role of a behavior analyst is not designed to sit in an office far removed from the direct work with clients. It is crucial to keep your own skills honed and be ready to jump in and model for your front-line staff as needed.
When moving from a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) or similar position to a BCBA, your focus shifts. As an RBT, your role was to provide direct services to clients. However, as a BCBA your role shifts to training staff, which involves a balance of modeling and supporting your staff, as well as knowing when to sit back and let your staff take the lead.
As a BCBA, you are now in charge of the team. To maintain respect, you must go beyond giving instructions, and be willing to jump in to model and practice skills with the staff. It is important to by physically present with your staff to support them. Leadership means supporting your staff until they are ready to take the reigns, after which you can fade out your level of support – much the same as you would in fading prompts with a learner.
One of the fastest ways to lose the respect of your team is to give directions from behind closed doors or from a distance. You will lose respect by giving orders and walking away. To be a strong leader and to gain the respect of your team, be present. Be there physically. Be attentive. Be engaged. A strong BCBA team leader will be right in the middle of everything with the cases they manage. The BCBA will always be ready to roll up his or her sleeves and work directly with every learner.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” John C. Maxwell, best selling author on topics of leadership. As a new (or well established) BCBA and leader of treatment teams, it is important to clearly demonstrate and teach the skills needed – not just instruct. Leadership means more than just ‘knowing the way’. You have to do it, model it, demonstrate it, and be involved.
To hear more, be sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos. Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org. bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at email@example.com
Leanne Page, M.Ed, BCBA has worked with kids with disabilities and their parents in a variety of settings for over 10 years. She has taught special education classes from kindergarden-grade 12, from self-contained to inclusion. Leanne has also managed a center providing ABA services to children in 1:1 and small group settings. She has extensive experience in school and teacher training, therapist training, parent training, and providing direct services to children and families in a center-based or in-home therapy setting. Since becoming a mom, Leanne has a new mission to share behavior analytic practices with a population she knows needs it- all moms of littles! Leanne does through her site parentingwithaba.org and through her book ‘Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity”. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at email@example.com
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