Trying to be everything to everyone as a leader

leadership perfectionism

Let me tell you about a client of mine; I'm going to call her Helen for the sake of this post.

Helen is driven, has direction, goals, and passion. She's the Clinical Director of a five vet practice and she is responsible for maintaining a happy and healthy workforce.

I want to tell you what I observe in Helen.

  • Helen doesn't use “no” a lot in her day to day life.
  • Everything gets her attention.
  • She wants to be across everything.
  • She wants to be touching everything.
  • She's busy and she feels productive, but she doesn't have an off switch.
  • She's always on the go, she's very enthusiastic, and she likes structure. But what I see surrounding her is actually chaos.
  • She thinks she's focused, but she is across too many things. (And not only is that bad for her, it's bad for the team and it's bad for the clients as well).
  • And finally, she believes she can do this all by herself. (Now we know that might look good on the surface, but it often creates more problems than it solves).

I know there are three things that Helen needs in order to achieve her goal of creating a practice that runs smoothly with a happy team and happy clients. They are 1) structure, 2) focus, and 3) accountability. These three things have to be in sync; they have to be in harmony to work.

Now think of structure, focus and accountability as the three legs on a stool. If you knock one away, it will topple over.

For example, you might have structure and focus, but if you're not accountable, you're not going to follow through consistently on things.

You might have structure and be accountable, but if you lack focus, your attention will be scattered across too many things and you won't complete anything or do anything well. 

You might be focused and accountable, but if you lack structure, it's likely you're going to procrastinate and be far less productive overall.

If you have structure, focus, and accountability, the knock on impact is huge because if you have those things, your team will also have structure, focus and accountability. That means the practice can be busy, but it doesn't  have to be chaotic. People will feel less stressed, more productive, you'll get a lot more done as a team in a quality manner and will all be working towards a common goal.

If you're all structured, focused, and accountable, clients will perceive you as efficient and trustworthy, and they will see this practice as a safe place to bring their pets for the very best care. They'll see it as a place where things get done properly.

As a leader, my message to you today is that you have a huge responsibility to your team. It starts with you, leaders grow first.