Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with veterinary professionals from across the country at a conference. At this event, there were also several attendees who were recognized for various achievements. There was one individual, it seemed, who hardly had time to sit down before she was called back up to be recognized again.
Her name was Jenifer. The interesting thing was, I only met her on the bus ride from the airport and even from this limited interaction I wasn’t a bit surprised by the recognition she received. Her leadership skills were clearly evident.
Everything about Jen – the way she carried herself, her energy level, her interaction with others, her desire to help – demonstrated that she was a leader. At the dinner table she listened intently to conversation, made everyone around her feel important, and participated without dominating the discussion. You could tell Jen understood that leadership is not about the leader; it’s about everyone else.
Interestingly, Jen is not the practice owner or lead veterinarian. Her role within the practice wouldn’t be considered at the “top,” in the hierarchical sense. And yet, you could see people consistently seeking her out and asking questions to learn more about how she was building and sustaining a thriving veterinary practice. She always shared, and always did it with a smile and a sense that it was a conversation she could learn from too.
Jen was a reminder to me that leadership isn’t about position; it’s about mindset. It’s not about being in charge; it’s about making a difference. It’s not about telling; it’s about sharing. And it’s not about having authority; it’s about adding value.
My bet is that anyone could watch a group of people interact for a while and identify the leaders in the room without knowing anything about the team. These people stand out. They constantly consider how to add value for others, rather than acting to benefit themselves.
Try identifying the leaders next time you are around a team of people. Then ask yourself, would I be picked out as a leader if someone was watching me?
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