The Business of Healing Pets: What's Your Leadership Style? - The Trupanion Blog
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The Business of Healing Pets: What’s Your Leadership Style?

The Business of Healing Pets, Trupanion’s blog series written by Stith Keiser of Blue Heron Consulting, takes a deep dive into the business side of animal medicine. Look for a new installment each month featuring topics such as business best practices, effective leadership, strategic hiring, and more.

What’s Your Leadership Style?

In our last post, we reviewed Kellogg University’s perspective of leadership being tied to one of two primary motivators:

  1. Dominance Motivated
  2. Prestige Motivated

Likewise, Leadership That Gets Results, an article published in the Harvard Business Review, suggests that there are six primary leadership styles, summarized below. As you review, please consider which style (or styles) you feel best describes you.

Interestingly, the article also presented research from a global study of executives identifying whose organizations or departments consistently outperformed financially and culturally. The study revealed the top-performing executives were able to adeptly leverage four specific styles from the above:

  1. Authoritative
  2. Democratic
  3. Affiliative
  4. Coaching

Honing Our Leadership

In order to grow as leaders, we first need to identify which leadership style(s) best represent our behavior. Then, we can learn to read a situation to determine which style is most effective. As we develop our leadership skills, it’s important to understand the behaviors behind the styles that drive leadership effectiveness. According to Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters, published in McKinsey Quarterly, four kinds of behavior account for 89% of leadership effectiveness. They include:

  1. Solving problems effectively.
  2. Operating with a strong results orientation.
  3. Seeking different perspectives.
  4. Supporting others.

Finally, it’s time to perform an honest assessment of how we rank on each behavior and in our leadership style(s). Honing our skills as leaders is no different than the practice of veterinary medicine—there is always room to grow and improve.

Although we’ve touched on a lot of research today, it’s all in an effort to lay a foundation around the basic tenets of leadership. In our two remaining posts, we’ll bring this series to a close by:

  • Discovering tips to leverage what we’ve learned today to drive change in our hospitals.
  • Exploring how to identify and cultivate leaders in our hospitals.
  • Challenging ourselves to develop delegation skills, therefore maximizing the collective efficiency of ourselves and our teams.
  • Putting what we’ve learned into practice, consequently allowing us to improve quality of care, the client experience, our practice culture, and practice profitability.

Meet Stith

Stith Keiser is the Chief Executive Officer for Blue Heron Consulting, a group specializing in veterinary practice management coaching. In addition to consulting, Stith is a managing partner at a handful of veterinary practices and collaborates on the advancement of professional development curriculums at several veterinary schools as an adjunct faculty member. In his free time, Stith enjoys spending time with his wife, family, friends, and two dogs, a Red Heeler and black Lab, in the outdoors.


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