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Make Your Veterinary Team Great Again Part 2: You can't rely on 'Superstars'

Posted in Management @ Aug 15th 2019 - By Dr Diederik Gelderman, Turbo Charge Your Practice
Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 2 You Cant Rely On Superstars Red

Having the right TEAM and culture is essential to the success of your veterinary practice. 

This is an edited transcript of the video you'll find at the bottom of this post

In Part 1 of Making Your Veterinary Team Great Again: Do you want a team of eagles or ducks? we used the analogy of ducks and geese to demonstrate how a team working in harmony and synergy can produce 71% more output than a single individual could possibly achieve on their own - and with a lot less effort and stress. 

In this post we'll be discussing the single most sabotaging force of team performance that breaks team harmony and disrupts the synergy and most importantly, how you can eliminate it.

But first, back to our analogy of ducks and teamwork discussed in the last blog post. When a duck falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of the air and wind as it tries to fly alone. Left out of formation for too long, that individual duck is going to tire out and drop out completely. 

This can also be seen in a sports team when one player tries to showboat or carry the game and just as the duck trying to fly alone, will eventually wear him or herself down. And we most definitely also see this same behaviour in veterinary practices.

In a sports situation, the other team is going to eventually prevail if you've only got one player carrying your team and in your veterinary practice, the same thing will happen. There may not be an opposition team to prevail, but certainly your standards, along with your ability to service your clients and your patients will all start to progressively decline if you've got one person trying to carry the team on their own with little to no support from other team members. 

There is a great example of this discussed in Success Magazine in an interview with Mark Cuban by Darren Hardy. Mark Cuban owns a basketball team called the Dallas Mavericks, and in 2011 championships they had to face a team called the Miami Heat. 

The Heat demonstrated a prime example of this sabotaging force of, ‘the showboat’. 

It was argued that never before had a single team had more individual talent assembled on one single roster, in one single team, in one single season in the history of basketball, than the 2011 Miami Heat. They had what were called the three kings (which is probably a bit of a clue in itself!): LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. 

Meanwhile the Dallas Mavericks obviously also had good players but they didn't have nearly that level of individual superstars – they were a good team with no single great superstars. 

The 2011 championship should have been a blowout; it should have been straight wins for the Miami Heat and that should be the end of it, in four games to nil. However, while the Miami Heat had more ‘eagles’, the Dallas Mavericks played as a unified flock, a unified team and they decisively destroyed the Heat. 

That's the power of teamwork. 

Your practice can't rely on one or two superstars – and in fact they can even be detrimental to your team because often those superstars will have egos and not be able to work particularly effectively as part of the team. 

The important team lesson is this; no one member of your team can or should be taking all the headwind all the time – including you.

Remember in the last post we discussed how when the lead duck gets tired it goes to the back and gets replaced? Well that’s exactly what should be happening in your team. 

No Superstars allowed!

You also shouldn't hire one superstar. In fact, I’d even suggest that your practice motto should be - no superstars allowed!

Relying on a superstar in your team may work for a while, but will be destructive and detrimental in the long term.

Rather, all of your team members should have humility. The humility to understand that they need support from other people, the humility to understand that at certain times they need to go to the back of the V-formation to rebuild their energy levels and allow other ducks to take the lead position and to keep the flock moving at top speed. 

And as the leader, you need to make sure that you're providing the whole team with enough bench strength so that your good players can fall back and other team members are ready to step up.

You need to have a team of A-players, not individual superstars but A-players, so they can all rotate through situations when and as needed and be able to rely on each other. 

But what happens if you’re the superstar?

If you're doing the superhero superstar type role, then I'm going to suggest that you tone it down and allow other people to support and help you. And at times, you need to take a back role so that other people can showcase their strengths and lead your team. 

If you are the ‘eagle’ within your team, then you need to think about how often as a leader you recognize the other leadership potential in your team. If you keep pushing your team members back rather than allowing them to share the burdens, if you don't allow them to have an opportunity to shine, if you don’t allow them to take the lead on occasions, they will probably leave and find another team.

You may find that by letting others shine and take the lead they may take your team to a higher level than was previously possible. 

True leadership is knowing when to step aside, to let someone else lead for a while and stand by that new leader and offer support and encouragement. 

That's another lesson that we can learn from the from the ducks and the geese, because from the back of the V formation, the rest of the ducks and geese quack and carry on giving the leading duck support and encouragement. 

How often do we encourage those who are leading us?

Leadership can be a lonely position and so continuing to encourage and support the rest of the flock, especially the person who has taken on the leadership role, is essential. It’s also important that our ‘quacking’ from behind is encouraging and not destructive or damaging.

Do you continue to stand by your team members when they're in need?

Did you know that when a duck or a goose in a flock gets sick or wounded, and can no longer continue flying in the formation, then two other ducks from the flock will follow it down to the ground to help it? 

They will stay with the wounded duck until it's either able to fly again or unfortunately dies. Then they will either join another formation, because obviously their original formation is gone, or they will work together to catch up to their original flock if that's possible. Isn't that fantastic? 

So, the question is - are we standing by our team members when they're in need? Or are other team members turning a blind eye and saying “Oh well, sorry that sucks for you duck”?

Being part of the team means being there in good times and in bad. 

Take-away actions for this post.

1. Are you hogging the leadership ball?

Think of the others in your tam and now think of several ways that you can help them take the lead. Then be sure that you’re there to quack encouragement when they do take over the lead.  

2. Are you taking care of your entire flock?

Is there someone who you need to be there more for? Is there someone who you need to help heal? How can you offer support?

Missed the first blog post in the series? You can click here to read: Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 1: Do you want a team of eagles or ducks?

Next Week... Make Your Veterinary Team Great Part 3: Do you REALLY trust your team?

Click here to watch the 12 minute Video...

About Diederik

On graduation I purchased a Veterinary clinic in Maitland, NSW and sold it in July 2009. At the time of purchase, it was a run down one person clinic with about a 90% mixed and 10% small animal component. The business grew well, so that at one stage there were 4 branches and 8 Veterinarians.  At the time of sale there were 5 Veterinarians, 16 support staff functioning out of a purpose built ‘A’ class Hospital with one branch.  In 2004 the practice won the Pfizer/AVA Practice of Excellence Award as well as coming 3rd in the Fujitsu Customer Service Awards. 

At this stage (and even slightly before), I started co-presenting at trainings and workshops and in 2007 I started developing and hosting my own workshops. In July 2009 I sold my practice so as to be able to concentrate fully on my coaching, training, speaking and workshop business – and to be able to move to Exeter (NSW) to be with my partner. I missed clinical practice, so in May 2018 I purchased a veterinary practice with the aim of building it up by providing a highly customer service friendly veterinary practice alternative to the local community. In 12m we have grown the practice gross fee turnover by 53.1% and trebled it's net take home profit. 

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