As a veterinary practice owner, one of your biggest responsibilities is leading your team. Practices that have strong, positive leadership also tend to have better cultures and more productive employees, both of which boil down to improved client service and retention. Some folks possess natural leadership skills, but for those who don’t, developing and honing those skills is essential for ongoing success. Let’s take a look at five ways to become a better veterinary leader in your clinic.
Provide a Vision
The goals you’ve set for your practice aren’t just for you to know and work toward. They’re for the whole team to strive for, so make sure you’ve clearly communicated all the things you’re trying to achieve. When your employees understand the overall vision of the practice as well as the role they each play in driving the success of the business, they’ll be more focused and engaged. Share your vision openly and often.
Having an organizational structure can improve performance and communication across your entire practice. Your organizational chart will ultimately depend on the size of your practice and how many employees/roles you have, but it should at the very least outline the chain of command. This is important because employees need to know who they should turn to with questions or concerns. Your structure should also specify the various methods of communication, whether it be emails to share announcements, daily huddles, weekly or monthly meetings to collaborate, etc.
Walk the Walk
As a practice owner, you have tremendous influence over the culture of your business. Your staff will look to you to set the tone of what is acceptable and expected. Practice owners who are short tempered, make rash decisions with little regard for others or are inconsistent with their client service will set the stage for how the rest of the team performs. Conversely, leaders who work hard, are supportive of and respectful to their team and provide consistent, quality client care will earn respect and encourage others to follow suit.
Motivate and Inspire
Inspiring, influencing and guiding others is the definition of strong, positive leadership. A good leader doesn’t just order people around. They use effective communication to motivate their team into action. To inspire your staff, ask for their input, keep everyone informed, and provide timely and specific feedback. Look for ways to empower and reward your employees by providing them with ample training and setting clear expectations.
Could you perform all the duties in your practice? Of course. But if you’ve got too much on your plate, you won’t have the time or bandwidth to focus on growing your business. Good leaders know how to delegate and they’re not afraid to do so. By empowering your employees to apply their strengths, you’ll demonstrate trust, which will go a long way toward staff engagement and retention. If you’re finding that you’ve got too much to do as an owner, you might consider hiring a practice manager.
As a practice owner, you will wear many hats beyond that of veterinarian. By honing your leadership skills, choosing the right team and empowering them to perform at their best, you and your practice with both be successful.