Symptoms of failed leadership

Feb 21, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA

Labor costs are the highest expense in most veterinary practices.  It is also one of the most challenging requirements of managing a practice or even a part of a practice.  Creating a positive, dynamic, and opportunity-filled work environment is very important to a healthy practice.  This requires effective leadership, vision, and the ability to communicate that vision to a team of people who come together to accomplish mutual objectives.  That is what happens in healthy practices.  

Practices that aren't healthy typically have leadership challenges or complete voids in leadership.  Ineffective leadership leads to chaos, wasted resources, poor work environment, lack of team work, and a poorly performing practice.  Financial decline or even failure isn't far behind when failed leadership is in control.

Failed leadership is revealed by a general lack of accountability across the enterprise.  Lack of accountabiity is a symptom of leadership that does not set an example of being accountabe, on time, and responsive to both clients and staff.  The organization will be filled with excuses, negativity, and a general lack of motivation or care.  People will commonly complain of lack of opportunity, poor working conditions, and possess an attitude of entitlement.  The facilities will be run down and often not well-cleaned.  There is an evident lack of attention to detail or care for basic requirements to attract and retain quality clients and staff.

It is common amongst sales teams to be able to simply walk into a practice and within minutes they can identify the quality of leadership at the practice.  Make sure that your practice doesn't show any of these symptoms.  If it does, set some objectives to improve your leadership abilities or to get an appropriate leader in place to improve all aspects of your practice.

If your practice has any of these symptoms, don't worry.  That is normal.  We all fail, especially when it comes to transferring our desired outcomes to those we work with.  Leading people is an imperfect process that is one of the most challenging activities that we can face.  What separates those who are great leaders from those who aren't is that they persist in their desire and effort to improve.  Keep working to improve and you will be far ahead of your competitors!

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