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Not the boss? Doesn't mean you can't become a great leader in your veterinary practice

Posted in Management @ Nov 23rd 2017 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Not The Boss Doesnt Mean You Cant Become A Great Leader In Your Veterinary Practice

Don't have a 'title'? Doesn't mean you can't step up into a leadership role - no matter what your current role is in your veterinary practice.

Even if you don’t have a ‘Title’ there’s no reason why you can’t step up into a leadership role, especially if, for whatever reason, you can see there’s a bit of a void. Perhaps you’re part of a team with much younger, less experienced employees who require more leadership support than a team who have worked together for quite a while and therefore need less leadership support. Whatever the reason, the key is to take on a leadership role without overstepping boundaries and upsetting the rest of the team members.

Although to be a Manager you need to be given the title (and duties and responsibilities) by someone with the authority to do so, anyone can take on the role of leader within a team if they have the right skills. Sometimes you don’t even necessarily ‘want’ to take over the role – it just falls into your lap and suddenly you realise the rest of the team are looking to you for direction and support. This can occur because leadership can happen because others in your team have allowed you to influence their lives.

“Leadership is not rank, privilege, titles or money, it is responsibility.” Peter Drucker

If you can see your team would be much more successful if someone took over a leadership role, or perhaps developing leadership skills is something you would like to start doing for future career progressions, here are some areas you can start to think about and work on…

Always do the best work you can do – even when it feels like no one is watching

Even when you think no one is watching, your good work ethic will be noticed and can help to set the standard for others in your team. Being a role model for others is a key characteristic of a successful leader.

Get to know your team members & help them out when possible

Working to develop great professional relationships with your work mates, including those who are senior to you, can go a long way to increasing your effectiveness at work. It will also help to develop your mentoring skills, another useful skill as you move up the career ladder.

If someone in your team seems stressed or busy, offer to help out if you know you have the time. Understanding the importance of being a team player means sometimes helping others in the team to work towards a common goal – for the good of your practice – even if you may not necessarily personally benefit from it.

Use your influence for good (not evil)

Don’t underestimate your power to motivate and inspire others in your team – especially if you have a greater level of skill or knowledge or even a stronger personality than others in your team. Sometimes all it takes is a cheery good morning or a silly joke to lift the mood and spirits of those around you – especially when times are tough and moods are low.

Speak up....and listen to others

Be the person who suggests solutions and offers to manage the improvement project. Take any opportunity you can to put your hand up and volunteer for projects or offer to help out.

Don’t just be the person speaking up though, also take the time to listen to the points of views of others in your team. They may not necessarily want to take control but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid opinion and good ideas.

Own your mistakes and recognise the accomplishments of others

Be ready to admit when you make a mistake and view criticisms as an opportunity to learn and grow, NOT a personal attack.

Recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of others in your team. Your team members will appreciate your positive feedback even if you’re not the practice manager or owner.

Look outside the box…go beyond your job

Look outside your job and keep up with industry news and events - keep up with what’s going on both inside AND outside the veterinary industry. The external environment can have a huge impact on the day to day working of your veterinary practice and the more you know, the more prepared you can be.

Keep learning …become an expert

Don’t ever stop learning. Become a subject expert by participating in as many learning opportunities you can find. There’s a huge range of Continuing Professional Developments (CPD) opportunities within the veterinary industry, from conferences to seminars, webinars and workshops - you can find them all in Vetanswers’ ‘What’s on? Veterinary CPD Calendar’. And don’t forget all the opportunities you have to learn every day at work. Ask questions, find out why and keep your eyes open – informal opportunities to learn are all around you.

Although you may not have a Title, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference to how successfully your team operates. Taking on an informal leadership role may not immediately lead to more dollars in your pay packet but it will lead to greater job satisfaction and the potential to further develop your career in the future. 

A version of this post appeared in the VNJ September 2017

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