A feature story to our newest podcast episode, Hire The Smile, Episode 19: Using Feedback To Your Advantage
My definition of a leader is one who sets a vision and inspires those that work with them to collectively reach for this vision. In the process, the leader helps those they work with by creating the environment and systems so that everyone can grow personally and professionally to achieve this vision.
A leader can be the veterinary practice owner, an office manager, a head technician, or one of a group of veterinarians. It is not a title, but the influence you have on others.
There is a great responsibility to being a leader. The people you work with will push themselves beyond their comfort zones developing new skills and expanding their roles reaching for the shared vision. You don’t want to be the reason why someone fails because they haven’t been supported, or your actions cause them to withdraw or burnout.
A common trait in successful leaders is that they are open to feedback from everyone within their circle. They know that success is dependent on others’ clearly understanding directions, advice, and course corrections. The impact of a leader must match their intentions. If somehow their actions or words are confusing or punishing, there is no hope of achieving the stated vision.
I learned this lesson firsthand when our practice was undergoing rapid growth in the first few years of our existence. I was intense, my thoughts were firing left and right and all I could focus on was what was right in front of me. As a result, new employees would only last a few months before leaving, my insecurities lead me to lash out at people when things weren’t going well, and I would change my mind constantly. I was intolerable.
It took a very frustrated and brave person to one day confront me and tell me all this. I can remember the tears in her eyes while she erupted in anger. Her frustration finally hit a boiling point. She believed in what we wanted to do but I was getting in the way of what was possible.
I realized I had huge blind spots. Since then, I have learned to seek out feedback from others before they reach a boiling point, or they quit in frustration. I have learned to create a safe environment for feedback so I can listen, reflect, act upon the advice given and ask for feedback again to make sure I am doing what I need to do as a leader in my company. I welcome that it is a lifelong process and, like being a veterinarian, there is always room for improvement.
Since then, our business has prospered, and when I look around so many of my co-workers have been with us for a long time. There isn’t the self-induced drama that followed me like a bad smell. Best of all, many of my colleagues have become amazing leaders.
I truly hope this episode of Hire the Smile encourages all leaders, and hope to be leaders, to embrace feedback. It will make you a better person and will only make your business and those in it stronger, more resilient and capable of so much more than any of you ever expected.
By the way, my annual performance review is next week. There will be things I still need to work on, and there will be validation that I have really improved in other areas. I can’t wait.
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