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In our final discussion of the series, the experts reveal opinions on how much a leader should focus on finance.

Understandably, targets for veterinary leaders and practice owners are largely finance-driven. Somewhat counterintuitively, focussing purely on the financial aspects of the practice does not necessarily glean the best results. Indeed, presenting finance as an overwhelming priority to your team could cause resistance. This is because veterinarians are more likely to see their work as a vocational or calling and are generally less likely to be doing their job for money. When addressing your team, it is important to keep in mind that patients are usually at the heart of what they do.

Of course, finances are important. Therefore, the key to being a great leader is finding the balance in focus between the financial side of the business and the cause.

Furthermore, when it comes to rewarding the team, financial rewards are effective, but not as effective as recognition and praise. Knowing when to shift the focus to finance and when to recognise effort through praise is a fine balance, but one that can boost productivity.

Ultimately, the service and the finances are entwined. Exceptional service, diligent care for the patients and delighted clients will automatically feed into financial success. Thus by presenting a service-focussed approach to your team, you will be playing to their values in the knowledge that this should have an intrinsic financial impact.

Here is what the experts had to say about appreciating the interconnectedness of our business:

Dr Helen Swift, Veterinary Surgeon at Brentknoll Veterinary Centre suggests that respect, developing the team and building knowledge will feed into the financial side of the business:

“In my opinion from watching good leaders, if people like and respect you they will want to work well for you, and if you give them tools, knowledge and freedom to do the job then the financial side will sort itself out.”

Dr Sarah Keir, Director of SK Veterinary Services Ltd draws on the values of vets, and how these should be emphasised by the leader instead of the financial side of things. She explains the cycle of success; how great service develops financial growth:

“Focussing only on the financial side of things can be damaging. Ultimately, vets don’t become vets for money and we are too independently minded to be told to follow KPIs. But vets do want to do the best for animals and clients. By performing good quality medicine (looking for diagnosis and prognosis, stopping the repeated ear drops, doing more treatments early) there will undoubtedly be better outcomes, happier clients, happier vets and better finances. This does mean vets need to take an interest in dermatology and dental dx, not just the sexy work- ups or surgery fixes!”

Ultimately, this discussion has drawn on every aspect of the series: values, trust, your people and personal growth. If you are able to channel these key factors into your leadership practice, then the financial side of the business will develop in tandem. Not only will these skills help to generate income for your practice, but the financial development of the practice will be an indicator of how well you are performing such skills. There is a clear interrelationship here between service and finance.

We really hope that you have enjoyed this series, Leadership: From the Expert’s Mouth, especially if you are about to take on a leadership role. Continue the discussion in our online forum! What do you think makes a great leader? Is there anything from the series that you would like more information on?

If you like what you heard and are now ready to become a great leader yourself, you may be interested in the VetX:Leaders programme. This is a complete leadership system for veterinary practice owners and team leaders around the world, offering online training, advanced toolkits and live weekly group coaching. 

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