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Are you and INSPIRATIONAL leader?

Mike JeffHere is a picture of Jeff Thoren and Michael co-presenting last week at a Veterinary Conference in Kansas City. The talk was called: “A Tale of Two leaders – Escaping the Grip of 20th Century Leadership”.

The concept of LEADERSHIP is dramatically changing. Leadership development needs to focus on the world as it is today and in the future, not how it was in the past.

The 20th Century Leader is caught in the old “Command and Control, Carrot/Stick Style of leadership. This leader makes all of the decisions, struggles to get people to do what he/she wants them to do, blames others when things go wrong, is burdened by the pressure to “do it all”, is physically and emotionally exhausted and is experiencing only mediocre results  in the practice.

On the other hand, the “enlightened” 21st Century Leader  aligns people around a shared purpose and vision, uses collective input and a shared process for decision making, plays to his/her strengths, values staff members, is energized, optimistic and is experience great business results.

Where do you see yourself as a leader in your practice? How committed are you to evolving as a leader?

If you’re committed to evolving…..start with one small change, implement that and move onto the next step.

Some examples of small changes are:

  • Listen – Listening is a powerful gift you can give to your colleagues, your employees, your clients
  • Focus on the “Why”. Why are we in business? What is our purpose?
  • Show Compassion
  • Check your EGO at the door
  • Focus on Personal and Professional Growth for you and your team
  • Take one small step and at time and watch what happens to your practice!

Why does my practice feel composed of Peaks and Valleys?

18735637_sMary submitted this month’s “Solutions For Success” question

This month’s question:

I work hard on my practice but can’t seem to be able to sustain consistent success. I feel as if my practice is composed of Peaks and Valleys.

Mike & Dean’s Answer:

Hello Mary,

This is a great question and a common challenge shared by many practice owners.

Marcus Buckingham, a favorite business guru of mine, has helped to lead the research into the world’s best leaders, managers and workplaces. In his book, “The One Thing You Need To Know”, he discusses Sustained Individual Success.

There are twenty percenters. And then there are the rest. The twenty percenters are those few individuals who by working smart, being persistent and making appropriate contacts, manage to experience, extraordinary, repeated and sustained success. Their careers progress and they just get better and better, creating a life of success and fulfillment.

The others, the eighty percenters, seem to be much less consistent in their achievements and satisfactions. Very few actually wind up in positions where their contributions are at their peak. Which is why surrounding yourself with a few twenty percenters can prove so valuable. They can serve as our models and inspiration to reach the heights that we want in every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

How many twenty percenters do you have in your life? I have several and they constantly support and encourage me to be my best!

Speaking of twenty percenters, my VIP Day Strategic Planning Retreats are a wonderful way to get focused and clear on how to sustain your success. Learn more here.

How to RELAX, RECHARGE, RETHINK your Practice

We ALL need time to RELAX and RECHARGE. Whenever I’m starting to feel the signs of being in overwhelm, I’m reminded of the need to refill my well. I was once told, many years ago, that if my well was half empty, my energy is low and I can’t be my best to anyone or anything around me. I first need to refill the well and then I can give my all in my life, my work and our practice.

Vacation is the best way for me to RECHARGE. Taking a vacation to a place that nourishes me is my method of quieting my mind, relaxing, recharging and rethinking. If a two week vacation isn’t an option now try a weekend get-a-way or even a day. Pick a spot that allows you to quiet your mind and escape the busyness of the day.

When you arrive at that quiet spot, here are a few questions to ask yourself?

  • Am I happy with how I’m going to spend my day each morning when I wake up?
  • Is my practice all that I would like it to be?
  • How would I like the last quarter of 2015 to be different?
  • What action am I taking to make this happen?

If you and/or your leadership team would like to RELAX, RETHINK AND RECHARGE……check out my Strategic Planning VIP Day Retreat. This is a wonderful way to get away from the day to day and get real clarity about the future of your Practice.

Stuck at Status Quo

Tom submitted this month’s “Solutions For Success” question

This month’s question:

I seem to be stuck at a “Status Quo” place in my practice. I’m not as focused as I’d like to be. I’d love some advice on how to move forward in my practice?

Mike’s Answer:

Hello Tom,

This is another great question and one that many practice owners have shared with me over the years.

We can fall into a place of “Status Quo” in our practice for a number of reasons:

  • We may be in survival mode and the daily goal is to do our best to get everything done.
  • In some cases, we may not have a vision for our practice. This requires us to identify where we are now and where we want to be in the future.
  • Another reason could be the limiting beliefs we might have about ourselves and our practice. i.e. I’m not a good leader, we can’t compete, etc.

Here’s the question to ask yourself: “What if you increased the possibility just 1% each day? Where would you be in your life, your work and your practice one year from now?” You DON’T want to wake up one year from now and be in the same place you are today so COMMIT to that 1% thinking and watch what happens!

How to Create an “Engaged” Employee Culture

Doctors with thumbs upJack Welch, the former CEO of GE said this about culture, “There are only three measurements that tell you everything you need to know about your business’s overall performance: employee engagement, client satisfaction and cash flow. It goes without saying that no business, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

I was on a call recently with Christine Comaford, founder of the SmartTribes Institute. Her talk was on “Creating the Culture of Your Dreams: The neuroscience of performance and engagement”.  She described the 4 keys to getting the most of employee engagement and creating what she calls a Smart Tribe:

#1 – Growth – The brain needs to be inspired and it must have the opportunity to have insights. Employees need to know that there is a path for their development. Take the time to develop an IDP (Individual Development Plan) for each employee. Find out where they see themselves in 3-5 years. What skill sets would they need to develop to get there?

#2 – Appreciation – Appreciate everything your employees do for the practice. One easy step you can take as a Business Owner is to simply say Thank You to your employees at the end of every day

#3 – Measurements – Weekly status, dashboards, accountability structures, pre and post employee surveys. Identify how you will measure employee engagement.

#4 – Engagement – This should always be closely tied to the Practice’s Mission, Vision and Core Values. One of my client’s core values are Respect, Integrity, Harmony, Teamwork…… At each monthly team meeting they ask for examples of employees who have demonstrated our values this month.

How do I connect with my clients?

Vet In Discussion With Horse OwnerThis month’s “Solutions For Success” question  

I’m technically very good at my job. I’m very detailed, very responsive but my client feedback is not always great and a reflection of my work. How do I connect with my clients?

Mike and Dean’s Answer:

This is a great question.  Thank you for stepping up and wanting to raise the bar to exceed your client’s expectation.

When we look at our work it can be separated into two pieces (A) Hard Skills and (B) Soft Skills…now being called Essential Skills.

The Hard Skills represent the skills needed to technically perform our jobs. For example: If you are a Veterinarian or Veterinary Tech,  the technical skills needed would be: Performing a thorough physical exam, diagnosing, prescribing a treatment plan, surgery, taking blood, clipping toenails, restraining an animal, etc.

The Soft (Essential) Skills represent how you connect with your patient and your client, how you communicate, how you are perceived. This is commonly referred to as Emotional Intelligence.

Here are three, easy tips to strengthen that connection to your clients:

1. Give the gift of LISTENING!

  • Listening is a powerful gift that you can give to another person
  • Be fully “present” to listen
  • Listen to people as powerfully as you listen to animals
  • Encourage the client to expand and continue…”say more about that”
  • STOP TALKING! We have two ears and one tongue, a gentle hint that we should listen twice as much as we talk

2. Be aware of your BODY LANGUAGE!

  • 7% Rule – Only 7% of communication is verbal, 93% is non-verbal ( 55% body language and 38% is tone of voice)
  • Assume a power pose to boost your confidence
  • Uncross your arms
  • Good posture, back straight but not rigid, relaxed shoulders
  • Lean in a bit, but be mindful of space


  • Likeability is the gateway to connecting with people
  • Smile, Smile, Smile
  • Be kind, show that you care
  • Be respectful
  • Be authentic

How can I manage my emotions?

Woman PowerJohn submitted this month’s “Solutions For Success” question

This month’s question:

I find myself struggling with how to manage my emotions.  The Veterinary Profession can be very stressful. I’m one of five Veterinarians who work in a large, busy practice and I find myself losing patience, get frustrated, and sometimes lash out at my employees.  Do you have any thoughts on how I can manage my emotions?

Mike and Dean’s Answer:

Hello John,

Great question.  First I want to applaud you for taking the first step to ask for help. This is huge and shows your commitment to change and wanting to be the best leader for your employees and colleagues.

What you’re describing is a piece of Dan Goleman’s work on “Emotional Intelligence”. How do we manage our emotions?

Here are a few easy steps to follow to begin to get a handle on your emotions:

  1. Identify the Triggers – What are the things that happen each day to “trigger” an unwanted emotion? If possible, stay away or distance yourself from those triggers
  2. Create an intention and review it each morning to set the stage for the day. Ex. Your intention may be “to be kind today”
  3. If you should say the wrong thing or lose your temper….apologize. These are just learned habits that need to be broken

How can I manage the daily workflow?

iStock_000016699392XSmallLike most Veterinarians I struggle with how to manage my time.  I’m pulled in so many directions all day.

Do you have any thoughts on how I can manage the daily workflow?

Mike & Deans’s Answer:

Hello Susan,

Great question and one that is shared by many in the fast paced world of Veterinary medicine.

Here are some simple tips to follow to help you manage your time efficiently:

  1. Set an Intention – It’s been said that we can CREATE our day or allow our day to be created for us. The most successful business people that I know, always spend time each morning being intentional about their day.Ex. Your intention might be to be FULLY PRESENT for your employees but mindful of STAYING ON TASK with your priorities for the day.
  1. Get organized – Set times and boundaries for your meetings, calls, etc. Honor those times you’ve set aside to do those tasks. Sometimes we interrupt ourselves and procrastinate around doing the tasks. Stay focused and you’ll feel much more productive at the end of the day.
  2. Communicate – Have a five minute huddle every day with your team. Discuss your goals for the day, who’s responsible for what, what tasks need to be accomplished, how the day will flow, etc.