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James Parauda, Executive Director Of Tri County Care Management Organization

James Parauda is the Executive Director of Tri County Care Management Organization. He has been in that role for six years and part of the Children’s System of Care for over sixteen years in various roles. James received his Master of Social Work from Hunter College and is a Licensed Social Worker in New Jersey. James has over 25 years of experience in social services including work with homeless families, adult mentally ill, youth in Out-of-Home settings and families facing mental health, developmental disabilities and substance use challenges.

Number of years in management: 20+ years

Tell us about your path to management:
My first management type position came out of default as I was the most experienced case manager when the agency decided to create a Senior Case Manager position. I didn’t know what to expect but had a knack for helping others including my peers. I soon realized that managing people was something I enjoyed, and it was also a strength of mine. Therefore, I decided to seek a master’s degree with a concentration in administrative management. I have been in management positions ever since and enjoy the pleasures and challenges of managing others.

What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals?
There are many skills needed to be a leader. I tend to use the more subtle skills of listening, showing respect and having humility. The use of these skills allows others to relate to you as a person and not as an authority figure. The authority that comes with the position will show through the trust that you have gained through use of the other skills. The other significant skill of a leader is decision making. Good leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions no matter what the situation. If the decision is grounded in the vision or mission of the agency, then people can respect the outcome.

How do you motivate your team members?
Finding ways to motivate others on a consistent basis can be challenging. Changing up the tactics will keep things fresh in the workplace. However, I find that a sense of commitment to the agency’s mission/vision and a genuine concern for the role of each individual in the agency can be a constant motivation. Although I have never done the television show “Undercover Boss,” I’ve often imagined what it is like for others in their roles and how the agency can improve their role. It is also important to find out what motivates the employees so they have some say in those decisions.

Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
The person that has inspired me the most throughout my life is Jesus. He was a true social worker; caring for others no matter what their situation and no matter what others thought of his work. It is his teachings that keep me grounded and humble.

How has networking impacted your career?
Networking has impacted my career tremendously as many of the steps I have taken would not have been possible without someone putting a good word in for me. Networking can be done in more than one way. Sometimes it’s putting yourself out there in a work related or social event. However, networking can also be the work ethic you show on the job. When people notice a good work ethic and results, they are willing to put themselves out there on your behalf.

What are you reading and/or following now (book, blog, social media groups, etc)?
I consistently read from the Bible and take Bible study classes. I also follow sports and politics and often read articles about how others handle situations as leaders. It is interesting to learn from others whether the outcomes are positive or negative. It can be a true learning experience depending on how you relate this to your individual situation personally and professionally.

What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Stay true to yourself. I received a degree in finance and worked in that field for a few years before I realized my true passion was social work. As stated above I manage with a genuineness of who I am as a person.

Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
I just completed a project related to Racism Awareness. A group of people including myself organized a three-day statewide conference to identify leaders in the field of understanding and combatting racism. There was about sixty people in attendance and the plan is to have an annual gathering and expand the attendance numbers each year.

What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
The ironic thing about this question is that the things I wish I knew can’t be learned before you start. I’ve learned that life experiences are so valuable to our knowledge base and can be so helpful in teaching others. There is a certain level of patience needed to understand that life experience will give you answers you can’t get anywhere else.

Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
I’m not sure that it qualifies as a mistake or failure but choosing a degree or career that didn’t suit who I was as a person was an important life lesson for me. Starting out in finance helped me to realize I was not passionate about that work and a key to being successful in any career is having passion for the work.

In general, making mistakes is going to happen throughout your career the key is to learn something from those mistakes that will help you down the road.

Where can people reach you for questions (LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter)?

E-Mail Address: jparauda@tricountycmo.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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