Prior to veterinary school, I never considered myself a leader. I mean, leaders are just business owners, Presidents, military officials and Oprah, right?
In truth though, being a leader isn’t about filling an authoritative role, it is a mindset. A leader could be as simple as someone who lives shamelessly as their authentic self and empowers others to do the same. This concept was covered extensively at the Veterinary Leadership Experience early this June in Post Falls, Idaho. Some of the most amazing leaders in the veterinary industry gathered there to work on our self- and social-awareness skills.
On Day 1, I was placed into a group with 15 strangers and by Day 5, after completing and, more importantly, failing several difficult activities, it was as if I had known them for years. Together, we climbed over a 16 foot wall, fit all 15 of us onto a 2.5 x 2.5 foot box, maneuvered through a 35 foot tight rope course, and several other activities that left us laughing, bruised, euphoric and frustrated all at the same time. After each activity, we debriefed on the lessons learned including what we did correctly and which areas we could improve.
I have never learned so much about my personality type, self-management style, communication within my team, response to stress, conflict resolution and support for my teammates. I am looking forward to applying the skills I have learned to my current leadership roles.
If you have the opportunity to apply to attend the Veterinary Leadership Experience, I highly recommend it! If not, make a point to attend leadership lectures either at the college or at local conventions. Step out of your box, make yourself vulnerable and have those unconventional conversations. Pay attention to the people that you consider to be a leader, watch what they are doing and learn from them.