How to be the best veterinary practice leader

Running a veterinary clinic or hospital takes tremendous strength and passion. It also takes leadership and skills to keep the vessel moving forward. I came across this article by Veterinary Practice News writer Steve Pearson, DVM.

In this article, he describes the seven habits every veterinary practice leader should possess to run a successful practice.

#1 – Communicate Clearly

The foundation of building your business relies on clear communication for your team. Those communications are predicated on the priorities of your business. You as a leader will know those priorities better than anyone else. But if your team fails to know them, the clinic will fail to implement them in their entirety.

To work on communication, write down your list of priorities. This will help it make them official for you and your team. Once you have them written in a list, make them action oriented. In other words, enact the priorities by recognizing when team members exemplify these priorities and make decisions based on these priorities. Simply point it out to them when you see it throughout the workday.

#2 - Show Your Commitment

“Clients won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”


Leadership has to be earned by actions. The truth is we spend more time at work than we do with their own families and the people we work with soon learn who we are as a person. With that being said, your core values are going to determine the relationships you make at work.

#3 - Exercise Your Strengths

As a veterinarian leader in medicine, you are expected to know a lot about a lot of things. But we all have areas of strengths and weaknesses. Identify your strong areas and medical expertise and partner with those who can balance the areas you are weakest at. Sharpen your natural abilities first and then work on areas that need development.


#4 - Perseverance In Rough Times

Perseverance is a steady persistence and a course of action in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Of all the habits mentioned, perseverance may be one of the most important. Difficulties, obstacles, and discouragement can show more frequently in a busy veterinary practice. This allows the veterinary leader plenty of opportunities to be resourceful and to foster a culture of optimism and confidence in their team.

#5 - Be Good At Making Decisions

The Harvard Business Review states three primary resources of decisiveness. Those are - decisive by nature, decisive by training, and decisive by incentive. Which one are you? Truth being told we can all learn how to make better decisions.

#6 - Learn From Your Failures

As a veterinary practice leader you are also an entrepreneur. Many business owners fail. In fact, if you ever played a game of Monopoly you would recall that failure is part of the game. The important part of learning how to win that game is learning from those mistakes. What is important to take away is who is watching you. Your team will pick up from how you handle those mistakes. Take ownership and express what you’ve learned from the experience and point out how your team can benefit the next time.

#7 - Make Your Health A Priority Number One

Just like they tell you on an airplane, you must first take care of yourself before you can take care of others. In order to be a strong leader you need to be a healthy individual to help those on your team.

Veterinarians tend to get lost in “busyness” and put aside focus on their physical and mental health needs. Burnout is a real epidemic for veterinarian practice leaders. If there is burnout in the leadership there will be struggles in the rest of the practice.

Take time to refresh and to correct any bad habits like not getting enough sleep or getting daily exercise.  You may not realize this before it’s too late so make it a priority to spend quality time with family, get regular exercise, socialize with people outside of your profession, and make periodic reviews of your progress towards your goals and aspirations.

Running your practice can be a fulfilling and satisfying venture and a passion you have set for your profession. I hope these tips help you gain focus on skills that you might find needed a second look.

John C Maxwell says this - “A leader is one who knows the way, does the way, and shows the way.”