Sometimes the work that I do can be the most satisfying job imaginable. Awhile ago I was working with an organization and one employee told me that she is not only a better leader at work, but she feels like she is a better leader at home as well. She mentioned that one of her kids told her that she never yells at them any more. She even got a little emotional as she thanked me for helping her become a better mom too. The truth is, she did all the work; I was simply a catalyst.
She raised a very important point about leadership. It’s nearly impossible to improve your leadership abilities in one area of your life and not have that carry over to others. There have been many cases where people have thanked me for the very same thing that this woman did. And while it’s incredibly humbling, it’s no longer surprising. People are people and if you get better at leading others, it will always include those closest to you.
As I work with leaders, practice managers, and teams it becomes increasing clear to me that when people learn to coach, handle conflict, create accountability, and build a successful culture at work, they learn to take those skills, and that new perspective, home as well. What they do differently at work matters. What they do differently at home might matter even more.
Part of the reason that we have so many challenges in veterinary practices and in our communities is that we don’t have enough leaders. We don’t have enough people who understand how to move a group of people forward in a positive and sustainable way. Our lens has become what we can accomplish in the next 90 days, not what we can build that will continue to grow and thrive far past the horizon we currently see.
Today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders
When today’s kids get to their first job, they will look up at their boss and evaluate them as a leader. If they don’t already have an idea of what real leadership looks like, they simply assume that their boss is a leader because he or she is in a management role. If they aspire to what they see above them, and their role models are poor leaders, our leadership problems will continue. But if today’s kids already have a firm set of beliefs about what good leadership is when they get to work, they will tend to seek out good leaders to learn from. They can chart their own course to become a leader who can make a difference.
Every time someone develops a perspective on what great leadership looks like and decides to make that journey, they start a chain reaction that affects everyone around them. That’s the kind of momentum we need to solve our current problems and it’s the kind of momentum I get to watch people create every time they make the choice to be a better coach, a better manager, a better leader.
We’ve already made the choices that have created the myriad of challenges we face today and we have also created challenges that will have to be faced by the next generation of leaders. Let’s at least make certain that they are prepared better than we are to handle them. Give them a target for what leaders look like, how they behave, and the choices they make. Let’s give them something to aspire to by becoming better leaders ourselves. If we just do that, people will notice and they will decide to be better, simply because they saw us do it first.
That’s what real leadership is, creating opportunities for others that don’t exist without us. It doesn’t matter whether we are at work, at home, or in the community. When we make the choice to lead, we also create the path that others will follow. I can’t think of anything more important for the future of our businesses, our communities and our families. Can you?