Since the beginning of veterinary medical practice, the authoritarian model of leadership has been the standard. This is something that was modeled for us before veterinary school (at the hospitals we have worked in) and when we were in veterinary school. The person with the most knowledge is in charge. You know, because knowing a lot about Cushing’s disease certainly makes you a great leader-really?
It the past, it has been all about position-the person with the most credentials is the one making all the decisions. Just in case I am not clear, being the owner of your practice does not make you a true “leader”. There is a vast chasm between owner and leader!
The authoritarian model of leadership has been proven not to be the best way in the business world, and that holds true in veterinary medicine as well. The stakes are just too high for only one person to be making all the decisions. These days, you need to be someone people want to follow rather than someone people have to follow.
What this also means is that you no longer have to be the authority on everything in your hospital. Now I know that is going to be hard for some of you control freaks like myself, but having people around you working together is going to be essential.
Like a wise mentor once said, “all of us is smarter than one of us.” You and you leadership team will be able to accomplish way more than just you can, even if you think you can “do it all yourself.”
What is the key for moving from “just getting by” to actually “starting to thrive?” I believe the first step to clarity is creating a leadership team.
Your leadership team should consist of the key people within your hospital. Ideally this would be all of the doctors, the practice manager, and at least one representative from each of the different areas (customer service, technician, kennel etc).
Here are a few keys to creating your hospital’s leadership team:
- It needs to consist of at least 3 people.
- Everyone must be committed to a once a week meeting (1-1.5 hours)-same time, same day each week.
- Do a DISC profile on each leadership team member (dedicate at least one meeting initially to discussing communication styles.)
- Have each member complete the Strength Finders 2.0 or StandOut and assessment (quick read)
- Required reading by the team (reinforcing key ideas-books we use include Habitudes, QBQ and the Go-Giver.)
- Assign one person the task of agenda and note taking.
- This team must be respectful but be able to speak the truth to each other-things can not be left unsaid or pushed under the rug.
- The leadership team MUST be unified no matter what; each person must walk the walk and talk the talk EVERY day.
Have any of you created a leadership team within your hospital-what is working and what is not?