Welcome to Read to Lead, Lincoln’s complimentary bite size monthly update with the very latest in leadership topics for the world wide veterinary community. 

From the desk of Paul Ainsworth, Lincoln’s Founder

How do you want to show up as a leader
in your Veterinary Practice?

Whether you are a Practice Owner, manager, team leader, associate veterinarian, nurse, receptionist or kennel hand, like it or not, you are a leader within your organisation. You lead yourself and have an influence on those around you – so even if you are not currently in a formal leadership role within your veterinary practice please read on!

One of my clients told me the other day, how much they’re struggling to ‘find time for leadership’.  As if leadership is another job to do, in an already busy day. I don’t think she is alone and so I want to share with you the conversation that followed…

After a short discussion where she shared her immediate work pressures and clarified what areas she needed help with, I invited her to reframe her thinking about leadership, from a ‘to-do list’, trying to recall the dozens of Lincoln models – often in difficult circumstances and under time pressure, to one simple question…

“How do I want to show-up in this moment or today or in this relationship?”

This question goes to the heart of great leadership because it invites us to paint a picture in our mind of what good leadership looks like – based on what we have experienced and most importantly ‘felt’ at some point in our lives. 

This is what good leadership is…

Behaving in a way that makes others feel inspired to do their best work, or feel in control or autonomous or simply safe and secure in their role.

Once we have established this mindset, I’d invite you to be realistic as to what you have in you to give.

On some days, that will be very little. You may be doing your level best just to show up and get through your work. Anything that you do or say, you feel will be taken the wrong way or you’ll spend your day conflating difficult conversations from months ago with ‘that look’ that they gave you when you arrived at work.  To put it simply, you won’t be in the frame of mind to take on anything other than those things that call upon the lowest order of resilience.

And that’s OK. Accepting this as your reality is a great way for you to observe how you feel and gain some sense of objectivity around it.  Not accepting it looks like a pretty ordinary day of flare ups and you feeling terrible by the end of the day, as one thing builds on another.

What can you give on those days when you know that you have little left in the tank?

Well, it depends, but sometimes it might be as little as a hello in the morning – using a colleagues first name, pulling someone aside that you trust and asking them to help you to get through the day, set realistic expectations as to what you intend to get through today and keep any to-do list close by your side so that you can feel a sense of achievement at the end of the day.

For those of you reading this that have been hanging around with us for a while – this is what you’ve done; (1) created a Moment that Matters to someone by using their first name when you acknowledged their existence by saying hello; (2) completed a Random Act of Kindness, so taken a step towards improving your wellbeing; (3) acknowledged that you’ve ‘re-formed’ as a team (yes, you being in a bad place is not too far off losing a team member); (4) you’ve executed Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development by re-setting your goals for the day; (5) you’ve executed Kotter’s 8 Steps of Change by asking your friend (your Guiding Coalition) to look out for you and finally; (6) you’ve applied one of Dan Pink’s 3 Intrinsic Motivators (Mastery) by lowering your own expectations of what can be achieved on this day and then tried to tick a few things off your list throughout the day.

If I asked you to recite these 6 principles on your way into work – you’d probably struggle to think of them – especially if you’re not already in a good place. If I asked you ‘how you want or need to show up today’, you’d intuitively act in this way.

All you needed was a reminder to yourself to ask this question before entering the clinic.

Days like these are not meant to be ones where you solve the practice’s many challenges. Nor are they the day that you’ll remember to do your Mindful Transitioning techniques. Today’s the day that you’ve successfully managed yourself and minimised the damage that you’re inflicting on others.

Perhaps it’s helpful to think of this in concentric circles.

Some days, we simply need to tighten the circle around us with whatever will help us to get through the day (or week) and minimise the collateral damage that we cause when we make poor and uninformed choices – especially with relation to our self awareness, regulation and behaviour. On other days, we can expand this circle and take in more of what is happening around us. On these days, we can do more. We can coach, mentor, actively listen and practice mindfulness.

A word of caution…  Closing your circle on the bad days isn’t a free pass to avoiding the challenges that face the practice. However, If you begin everyday (especially the rough ones) with clarity around how it is you’re expected to show up, you’ll gain momentum and when the time is right, be ready once again to take on the world.

Best of luck, Paul. 

If you enjoyed this article you might be interested in this…

The Veterinary Industry Correction… How prepared are you?

Upcoming Live Online Free Event –

Global transformation is afoot. The most substantial adjustment to the veterinary business model is underway.Unprecedented premature attrition of veterinarians and clinical support staff from veterinary practice has left a severe shortage of human resources.Free online 1-day virtual and interactive event on Wednesday 10th November 2021

We are limiting each group to just 40 participants as this is going to be highly interactive so please reserve your spot now to avoid missing out.

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