In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, guest blogger Randy Hall, Leadership Coach, Founder & CEO of VetLead, discusses 3 key strategies you can help yourself and others in your veterinary practice envision and move towards the best future while creating a positive, lasting impact.
Three Key Strategies for Shaping the Future of Your Veterinary Practice
It’s often been said that leaders need to peer into the future to see it ahead of time. Or they need to be able to predict the future or spot trends so their teams and businesses can adapt and move toward the greatest opportunities.
At the heart of veterinary leadership lies a profound focus on the future. Why do leaders exist if not to navigate and shape what’s to come? Unlike the common belief that leaders must predict the future, their real power lies in creating it.
Crafting the Future: A New Vision for Your Veterinary Practice
Leaders don’t need clairvoyance or psychic abilities, nor do they need to stay ahead of the curve. Leadership centers on creating the future, not predicting it. You, your team, and your practice thrive not on predicting the future accurately, but on shaping what lies ahead and enacting changes to realize that vision.
In coaching conversations, my clients often compare our discussions to therapy. However, while therapy typically revisits and reshapes past behavior patterns, coaching focuses on shaping the future. It involves guiding individuals to envision their desired future and supporting them as they transform their thinking, behavior, and habits to build it.
Guiding Your Team Towards Success
Success in leadership involves more than just guiding your team; it’s about inspiring them to explore new, exciting destinations that they have learned to identify, value, and pursue. As a leader, your role extends beyond mere direction – it encompasses engaging in meaningful conversations, interactions, and shared experiences that empower your team to visualize and construct their most promising future.
A great leader does not just influence the immediate; they unmistakably alter the course of the future for everyone they engage with. This immense power is not just an opportunity but also carries a profound responsibility.
Every conversation, every piece of advice, and every decision you make can leave a lasting impact, whether negative, neutral, or positive. The manner in which you plan, practice, and engage in these interactions plays a crucial role in shaping their outcomes.
The Ripple Effect of Leadership in Your Practice
In a leadership role, you wield significant influence over others’ behaviors; a byproduct of established hierarchies and authority structures within organizations. Team members often fixate on your expectations, desires, and potential reactions, a dynamic prevalent in many workplace cultures. This tendency, while natural, can inadvertently lead team members to prioritize your preferences over their own growth and ideas.
This overemphasis on a leader’s expectations can sidetrack team members from tapping into their full potential. When they are preoccupied with how you might use your authority or react to their decisions, it can stifle their willingness to take risks or innovate. They may spend more time trying to align with your thoughts than exploring and trusting their own. Such an environment can inadvertently limit the creative and strategic thinking necessary for personal and professional growth.
Finding Balance in Veterinary Leadership
Effective leadership, therefore, requires a delicate balance. It demands that leaders sometimes step back and allow team members to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. It’s about creating a space where your team feels empowered to develop their strengths and voice their ideas without fear of repercussion.
Leaders need to practice restraint and avoid over-relying on their authority, focusing instead on cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and encouragement. By doing so, leaders not only foster individual development but also
drive collective success.
Three Ways to Build a Brighter Veterinary Future
Here are three ways to help people, or even yourself, envision the best future and move in that direction so that you get to have a positive impact on the thoughts, actions, and outcomes of others.
1. Create Insight: Spark New Perspectives
In these moments, our brains actively engage in exploring new possibilities. By continuously posing questions, we can stimulate others to consider various scenarios and potential actions. This approach effectively generates insights for others, sometimes even unexpectedly. Encourage people to reflect by asking, “What would be your next step?” or “How could you approach this differently in the future?”
These questions not only prompt them to think creatively but also empower them to envision and plan alternate strategies. Such questioning not only unveils hidden possibilities but also ignites a process of self-discovery and innovation.
2. Redefine Boundaries: Encourage Innovative Thinking
As humans, when we consider a possibility, we often immediately list reasons why it won’t work or can’t happen, such as lack of time, information, experience, or resources. However, we can’t attempt new things if we decide beforehand they’re unfeasible. Building a better future hinges on trying new approaches.
Ask questions like, “If no obstacles stood in your way, what would be your first step?” or “How would you tackle these challenges if you had to overcome them?” Lead yourself and others by focusing on creating new possibilities, rather than dwelling on roadblocks.
3. Empower Progress with a Shared Vision
Confidence emerges when we move from conceptualizing ideas to executing them. When others believe in us, it prompts us to reassess our confidence levels. Expressing your belief in someone’s ability to put in the effort and progress in a new direction often serves as the catalyst for their action.
Use phrases like, “I believe you can achieve significant progress with some effort. Let’s discuss your goals and how you can move forward.” Or, “You have the potential to excel in this area, and I’m here to support you if you’re interested.” Actively believing in, investing in, and supporting others as they forge a better future for themselves ranks among the most fulfilling aspects of leadership.
Anticipate challenges and setbacks; mastering new skills often starts with initial struggles.
Leading Today for a Better Tomorrow
Use your interactions with others and even in your own ideas to make little changes happen in your thinking. These are the seeds that grow into an entirely new set of possibilities. As a leader, we get to help plant those seeds every single day.
There is no greater difference for us to make than to create a better tomorrow. Only leaders can do it.
Download the handout 3 ways to Build a Brighter Veterinary Future HERE.
CEO & Founder, VetLead
Randy spent over 15 years of his career in the animal health industry. Since founding his consulting business in 2009, he has worked with thousands of veterinary hospital leaders and staff members to help them capture the full potential of their own veterinary practices.
This VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog is written by VetLead. Please note the opinions in this blog are the expressed opinion of the author(s), and not directly endorsed by VETgirl.