Leadership is one of those words that is so frequently used, that many of us come into the role of leadership believing we already understand what it means. In truth, successful leadership is an extremely personal journey. Grounded in a handful of principals, the lion’s share of leadership is self awareness: awareness of how leadership flows forth from us, how we stand in the way of our employee’s success, and how we stand in the way of our own.
But it’s also about vision. People who make employee schedules, who order inventory, arbitrate client complaints, hire employees, fire employees and who earn more money to do all of the above are not necessarily leaders. Leadership is not defined by the amount of power you have or by the exclusiveness of your work responsibilities; it is defined by your ability to see a distant, purposeful objective, to lock onto those coordinates, and to move your team towards it.
It’s no coincidence that leadership is regularly compared to sports and defined using sport terminology. Words like coaching, team player, team, goal, huddle, and interface are regularly used to define how we should interact with employees and how we should achieve our objectives. The analogy is also meant to flavor our approach to leadership; to give us the sense that leadership is as much about ‘calling the shots’ as it is about working with other members of the team to execute the directives. What turns us on, both as spectators and participants is a winning group of individuals. While all of us are likely to have a mental poster or two of our favorite quarterbacks, CEOs, presidents, priests, or war generals, at the core of our esteem is our admiration for these individuals to lead the group.
It’s practically cathartic. Humans have been coordinating their efforts to win since the days when we stalked the Wooly Mammoth. At some point in our lives, each of us has been galvanized by the thrill of achieving a goal in the company of others. When we raise our collective voices in the worship of God, when we put on a show for an applauding audience, when we march through the smoldering, hard-won battlefield, we thrill. Great leaders are not respected for what they do; they are respected for what we do under their leadership.
Your practice’s future success is predicated on your willingness to reevaluate your understanding of leadership, to understand you leadership shortcomings, and your commitment to the persistent effort that it takes to change oneself.
In this section of VP21C, you’ll have a chance to read and watch our nation’s best veterinary leaders weigh in on their understanding of leadership, their journey to greatness, and most importantly, the things they do daily in order to continue to improve.