How to Get Off the Hamster Wheel in Veterinary Leadership
Are you a veterinary leader, practice owner or manager who is struggling to juggle all the balls of leadership? Stuck on a relentless hamster wheel with not enough time to lead your team?
Release yourself from the clinical grind and start focussing on leadership now, before it’s too late.
We are going to give you two tips, and two tips only, to become the leader your team deserves.
Flick your Internal Switch
Perhaps you have climbed up the ranks as a veterinarian and now find yourself in a leadership position. After years of prioritising clinical practice it is probably hard to think of anything besides – such as what it takes to be a true leader.
Sure, you know that hiring good people, creating an open team culture, giving your vets one-to-ones and clearly stating team objectives are integral to your role, but you simply can’t find the time! This is likely because you are putting all your efforts into the clinical grind.
This is not to deny the importance of looking after animals. But you must flick your internal switch before the leadership responsibilities mount up…
…because before you know it, these will become a crisis. And, you will be operating in damage limitation mode. You didn’t focus your efforts on recruiting the best people for the team with shared values, so now the culture is degrading and people are unhappy. This is leading to more absenteeism, reduced retention, increased complaints and internal conflict.
We recommend that you spend at least 20% of your time on the business side of things. Take control of your practice before it takes control of you. This is a choice and you are 100% responsible for making it. To allow yourself to be swamped by the clinical is a choice, it’s something you can and must control, or you will forever scamper on your wheel getting absolutely nowhere.
Effective multitasking is a myth. It was created by the Gods of Time who laugh as you try to complete ten tasks all at once. Often, you will end up finishing none, or will get stuff done shabbily. Or, worse, you end up burning out under the strain this mental aerobics has put you under.
Think about your current to-do list. My guess is that it’s an inexhaustible stream of tasks, not categorised or prioritised. Just the thought of tackling this list becomes stressful, right?
I urge you to create a set of clear objectives. This may be time-relevant. For example, an objective might be to expand your telehealth services so your vets can work safely and your clients receive a worthwhile, safe service during the pandemic.
If this is your objective, what must the priorities on your to-do list be?
With a clear vision in mind, your priorities will rise to the surface like oil in water. Of course distractions will too, but you must resist their evil temptation and stay on task.
We recommended that you dedicate at least 20% of your time on the business side of things. Think about what you have to do to create this space and what you are going to use your new time working on. DO NOT WASTE IT. It’s so easy for that one-to-one to fall by the wayside, for that equipment approval form to accumulate dust, for that team meeting to escape you. These things are important. Therefore, put them on your priorities list before they become urgent.
Stop paying the penalty of crisis management. Become the leader your team deserves now.
Those were our two tips to get off the hamster wheel of veterinary leadership: flick your internal switch and prioritise. These are all you should need to get started.
If you haven’t already checked out our leadership series which hears directly from established leaders on the frontline of veterinary medicine, this makes insightful reading.
Join the conversation! How do you manage your time as a leader? How do you effectively fulfil the duties of leadership alongside clinical demands? Let us know in our leadership networking group: Veterinary Business Success.