Leadership: it’s a quality that some are born with. Some have to learn it. And it should always be something that those who have it improve upon. When you think of a leader I know many of you will think of bosses you have had in your career. It’s very important to recognize the difference between a leader and a boss. A boss is someone who tells you a task to do and you do it.
Often your actions are fear based. You may do demanded tasks because you fear being fired or you fear being reprimanded. A leader is someone who gives you tasks and makes you WANT to do them. They have a vision that they share with you and you identify with it. Leaders also provide tools and communication to accomplish those goals.
What makes a leader? There are definitely people who have a natural talent for drawing people around them. They may be charismatic, animated and seem to see the way to solve problems that may not be obvious to others. Some are thrown into a leadership position.
These people have to continue to refine and build on certain qualities. Every leader should realize that they are only as strong as they can build their team to be. Leaders care about the big picture and use their influence to get others to see it as well. As a leader there are certain qualities one should possess or focus on.
A true leader realizes that none of us ever stop learning, especially in veterinary medicine. Leaders need to be educated to understand the medicine and processes of what we do. We have to be able to understand that but never lose the spark to find better ways to do them. This means implementing new protocols, medications and treatment plans and why they would be more beneficial to the patient/client.
A boss will say “This is how we have always done it.” A leader will say “What can we do to make things better?” A leader is excited about obtaining knowledge and sharing it with the team.
A leader must be confident. No one will take someone who doubts themselves as a leader. Many are born with innate confidence that they exude by just walking into a room. Some of us struggle. We have doubts, insecurities and question if we are doing what’s right for the team.
It’s ok for us to have those doubts, just don’t let them take up too much space. It’s normal and human for people to question themselves. But remember that if you are a leader you got there for a reason. Learn to trust your gut.
Leaders have to talk in a way that others understand. We have to identify what motivates each team member and how they communicate. We need to be aware that one thing can be perceived 100 different ways by 100 different people. Leaders have to be able to verbally articulate goals and tasks. This means changing our methods of communication and finding what motivates each team member.
Some people are motivated by praise. Some are motivated by simply accomplishing tasks. Some are motivated by just getting through the day. None of these motivations are wrong. They are just different. For any leader I highly recommend looking into Meyers-Briggs. Finding our personality type and learning how to communicate with various other personality types gives us a leg up.
A true leader knows that sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we have to apologize. We realize that our achievements are based on the work of our team. We appreciate. We thank. We let our staff know how important they are to building on a common vision. We own our victories and more importantly our mistakes. We cannot be boastful and we cannot buy into excessive pride. We aren’t too good to clean kennels, pick up a broom or poop scoop the yard. We lead by example and no one wants to follow a know it all.
So whether you are a natural born leader or thrown into the position, please realize that YOU have the impact to create amazing things in your clinic. You have the ability to create strong bonds within your team. By building trust and respect amongst your team, you not only can create a great work dynamic, you can create future leaders. The actions you do every day make a huge impact. You can be kind yet firm. Forgiving yet allow people to learn from their mistakes. Those that learn from you can share that within your clinic or in throughout their lives. Never underestimate the change you make in the world. It is no small task, but I know you can do it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Washington. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!