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As discussed in the previous From the Expert’s Mouth, a leader needs to support their team, but where does the leader get their support from? It starts from within. Positivity, beating FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) and avoiding burnout are keystones of personal growth and it is vital to tackle these before becoming a leader. Not only will your own personal growth benefit you, but it will benefit the team. 

A positive outlook can completely change your perspective, will permeate through to the team and provide motivation through difficult times. Like the theory of attraction, but less whimsical, positive energy will infiltrate into your outcomes. 

Focussing on your personal growth and self-care as a leader are sure-fire ways to avoid burnout, particularly in a role that can be unpredictable, pressurised, isolated and demanding. Getting the balance right is incredibly difficult in the veterinary profession, but something effective time-management skills will ameliorate. 

Here is what our selection of experts had to say about personal growth.  

Dr Ilana Mendels, DBPP, VetPrac stresses the connection between a leader’s personal development and the effect on the whole team:

“Leadership requires one to move themselves and others from one place to another.”

Dr Rebecca Maudling, Co-founder & Director of International Location Safety emphasises the roles of self-compassion, nurture and accountability in personal growth and leadership:

“To me, leadership is about making yourself accountable to yourself. Setting the vision and goals, keeping in line with your values, allowing yourself to make mistakes, learning from them with self-compassion but then getting yourself back on track. Guidance and nurture are key to leadership, both of yourself and your team.”

Dr Dave Nicol, Founder & CEO of VetX International claims personal growth is an essential factor in every veterinary leader’s toolkit:

“I believe leadership starts from within, making personal leadership an essential piece of the leader’s skill set. Personal leadership is much the same as the business version. Defining your purpose, mission and values. Setting a plan to achieve those, then getting to work. Factor in your emotional intelligence, resilience and all those actions you take to help achieve your goals (like staying physically and mentally fit). Understanding this is important for any leader, but utterly essential for the entrepreneur at the head of their business because a failure to understand yourself leads to errors in pretty much all other areas – most acutely seen in hiring, managing and firing. Any toxic culture has this at its root.”

A great leader recognises that there are always opportunities for personal growth and improvement. Self-awareness, self-reflection and accountability are terms that should resonate with any leader. A hectic day can feel like a tsunami of indistinguishable events, so make time to check-in with yourself at the end of each day and reflect on how you lead your people. Recognise those important moments. Take ownership of your actions so you can learn and develop. 

Ultimately, leaders should create and embody the type of workplace they wish to see. It is both surprising and uplifting to acknowledge how much the general energy of a leader can filter into the team. 

If you are enjoying this leadership series, be sure to stay around for the final input from the experts! Or, if you haven’t had a chance to check out our previous discussions with the experts, you can find them here.

If you found this edition in the series useful, be sure to check out the VetX Leaders programme for heaps more of the same. The course provides practical information and skills for veterinary leaders, with tangible results.

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