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5 Ways to Become a More Effective Veterinary Leader

Updated: Jun 1

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.

Establish Structure

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.

Our Advice on Becoming a More Effective Veterinary Leader in 2024

What specific leadership competencies and skills are most critical for veterinary practice owners to develop?

Effective leadership in veterinary practice hinges on the ability to provide a clear vision, establish a structured organizational system, and embody the values and behaviors expected within the clinic. Successful leaders motivate and inspire their teams through open communication, constructive feedback, and by soliciting staff input. Additionally, adept delegation is crucial, allowing owners to empower employees by trusting them with responsibilities that play to their strengths. This not only enhances staff engagement and retention but also enables leaders to focus on broader business growth and improvement.

What role can participative decision-making and shared leadership play in engaging and empowering veterinary team members?

Participative decision-making and shared leadership significantly enhance engagement and empowerment among veterinary team members by fostering a sense of ownership and accountability in the practice's success. When team members are actively involved in setting goals and developing strategies, they are more committed and motivated. This collaborative approach not only boosts morale but also encourages a culture of mutual respect and support. By distributing leadership roles and responsibilities, practice owners can tap into diverse perspectives and skills, leading to innovative solutions and a more resilient business structure.

How can practice owners leverage the unique strengths, talents, and passions of each team member?

Practice owners can leverage the unique strengths, talents, and passions of each team member by first identifying these qualities through assessments and regular feedback sessions. They can then align individual capabilities with specific roles and tasks that maximize these attributes. This approach not only optimizes the practice's operational efficiency but also boosts job satisfaction and retention. Encouraging team members to lead initiatives that resonate with their interests or expertise further promotes a culture of innovation and continuous improvement within the practice.

What strategies can be used to provide timely, specific, and actionable feedback to team members?

To provide timely, specific, and actionable feedback to team members, practice owners should establish a regular schedule for performance reviews and one-on-one meetings. Utilizing a structured feedback framework that highlights what team members are doing well, where improvements can be made, and how exactly they can achieve these improvements is crucial. Additionally, incorporating real-time feedback into daily interactions ensures that guidance is relevant and immediate, facilitating quicker adjustments and fostering a continuous learning environment. This strategy helps in building a culture of open communication and ongoing professional development.

How can practice owners prioritize their own self-care, stress management, and work-life balance as leaders?

Practice owners can prioritize self-care, stress management, and work-life balance by setting clear boundaries between work and personal time and ensuring they schedule regular breaks and off days. Implementing effective delegation strategies allows owners to trust their teams with responsibilities, reducing personal workload and preventing burnout. Additionally, engaging in regular physical activity, pursuing hobbies, and seeking professional counseling or peer support can maintain mental health and resilience. Prioritizing these aspects not only improves their well-being but also sets a positive example for the team, promoting a healthier work environment.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

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