10 Common Blind Spots of Veterinary Leaders – and how to identify yours
As a veterinary leader, self-awareness is key.
Self-awareness comes from knowing yourself, knowing your values, personality, needs, habits, and emotions. It is through self-awareness that you can connect with your blind spots. Blind spots can be the Achilles heel of leadership. They are personal traits or aspects we don't even know about that limit the way we act, react, behave, or believe, and therefore limit our effectiveness.
Here are 10 common blind spots of veterinary leaders:
- Having a need to be liked by others.
- Avoiding the hard stuff until it's too late.
- Believing you should have all the answers and solutions.
- Blaming others or circumstances and not taking responsibility.
- Being afraid of being wrong.
- Managing instead of leading.
- Unable to let go of the need to control.
- Avoiding conflict.
- Taking feedback and criticism too personally.
- Being unable to examine your vulnerabilities.
Let me share a story about my client, Ellie.
Ellie is a passionate, caring, approachable leader and her team have a huge amount of respect for her. But when Ellie came to me, she just wasn’t able to get people working at their highest potential, and she was seeing the impact of that in the practice's figures.
Upon further exploration we found that Ellie was available and approachable but to the extent that her team would lean on her too much and they were coming to her for the smallest of things that they could very easily have handled themselves. But why would they handle it themselves when they had a leader who was always available and had the answers on the tip of her tongue?
There is nothing wrong with being a caring leader who will do anything for your team as long as it comes from a place of serving, not saving, and this is where Ellie realised she could improve.
As a self-confessed perfectionist who felt more comfortable when she was in control, Ellie would oversee a lot of what went on in the practice which actually meant the team didn’t feel completely trusted or empowered to do their job. It also severely impacted Ellie’s ability to switch off outside of work because she worried so much about having missed something. But if her team were empowered with the responsibility, fully understood the expectations of their roles, and were trusted to undertake their duties, Ellie could have little to no input on most of what happens day to day and could receive a detailed debrief at the end of each day instead.
The thing about blind spots is you don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t see what you can’t see – yet.
Your responsibility as a veterinary leader is to be assessing patterns in your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and actions, and keep exploring how you show up and how it impacts your team’s performance.
Now, you might be thinking, “When will I have time to do this ON TOP of my job and the demands of daily practice life, and balancing that out with being a good parent/spouse/friend etc.?” The thing about blind spots is that they follow you into all areas of your life. Any personal development you do as a leader will have a profound impact on your personal relationships too.
And what if this isn’t about adding something to your list? What if it’s about removing other things off your to do list that don’t need to be there? What about creating a “To Stop List”?
Here are 9 prompts you can use to start uncovering some of your own blind spots. Take each one and write down the first answer that comes to mind. Don’t think about the answer or judge it any way. Collate your answers and then go and discuss them with your coach or mentor. Sometimes just knowing what they are can dissolve a limiting belief, and sometimes further chipping away is required.
- “When I lead, I ….”
- “Leadership is about …..”
- “A good leader must…..”
- “A real leader always ….”
- “Leaders can’t afford to ….”
- “In order to be successful, a leader has to ….”
- “A good leader must never ….”
- “Unfortunately, leaders sometimes have to ….”
- “The reality of leadership is that ….”
A rare opportunity!
At the end of July 2022, I have one 1:1 coaching slot available. If what you have read today resonates with you, drop me an email and we can talk some more about your leadership journey. Email: [email protected]