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Monday, February 8, 2016

Being A Leader Vs. Being A Boss

Recently the leaders in my practice have been going through training to improve our leadership skills.  As someone who has long been a leader/manager and have always had someone higher than me in the chain, proper leadership is very important to me.  I have failed in being a good leader many times, though I think I've gotten much better over the years.  I've also had both great and horrible leaders/bosses, as well as those that fall on a spectrum between the extremes.
There is a big difference between a "boss" and a "leader". A boss is someone who directs and pushes people.  A leader is someone who shows people the way and presents themselves as an example.  Both personalities have to manage those under them in the hierarchy, handle bad situations, hire people, fire people, and otherwise make sure the business runs smoothly and appropriately.  But there is a big difference between some one who leads and someone who acts like a boss.

There are some great memes out there on this issue right now, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.  Here's the first one.

I like this one because it clearly illustrates the different characteristics of the two kinds of managers.  But I think it can be summed up even more simply.  This is my favorite image on the topic.

The above picture really does capture the idea of what a leader is supposed to do.

These themes resonate in any business and veterinary medicine is no exception.  Paraprofessional staff have managers and associate doctors have the lead doctor or practice owner.  The only time that a person in veterinary medicine doesn't have some kind of manager over them is if they completely own the practice themselves.  So trying to look at bosses versus leaders is very relevant in my profession, and is something on which I often ruminate.  I try to be a good leader, but sometimes creep into boss territory.  I like to think that my forays into "boss" are fewer than they used to be, as I have been able to develop effective teams over the years.

A veterinary practice is a business and has certain things in common with any business.  When the practice manager or owner is a good leader they will have a stable staff and a greater chance of a successful business.