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Leading in the midst of chaos

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“Ambiguity and uncertainty drive stress,” says Randy Hall, founder and CEO of Aspire and veterinary leadership guru. Few would argue that we’re living in ambiguous and uncertain times, and with the coronavirus situation changing daily, that’s likely to be true for the foreseeable future.

In times like these, Hall told NEWStat, it’s critically important that team leaders in veterinary hospitals do everything they can to inspire their teams to carry on, not as if everything were normal (because clearly they aren’t), but as if everything is going to be okay.

To do that successfully requires communication. Even more so than usual, Hall says.

“The team needs to know that they’re going okay, that everybody’s not losing their job tomorrow,” Hall says. The message good leaders need to communicate is, “‘I don’t want anyone to worry; we’re all right for a while.’ Even if you’re not sure how long that is, let people know that right now, we’re okay. And we’ll continue to update you.”

The continual updating might be the most important part; in times like these, Hall says, it’s hard to overcommunicate.

Hall says that one key to successful leadership is self-care: “People in leadership roles have to make sure they focus on their own strong personal foundation. What are the things they do to stay healthy, to get plenty of rest, exercise?”

He concedes that it may not be easy, but it’s important in times of chaos for leaders to be at their best. “I think people during this time, especially in leadership roles, have to make sure they focus on their own strong personal foundation,” Hall said. “What are the things they do to stay healthy, to get plenty of rest, exercise.”

Hall says another thing that leaders need to do is to start to prepare for recovery now: Think about what steps you can take to let customers know that you’ve taken permanent steps to ensure they stay safe.  “We don’t know when that’s going to be, but we want to be ahead of that curve,” Hall says.

Aspire offers online leadership and management courses designed to help create a thriving practice culture and is a proud partner of AAHA’s Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative. The initiative helps veterinary teams create a work environment that fosters overall wellbeing. Learn more at aaha.org/practice-resources/healthy-workplace-culture/.

Photo shop: © iStock/DKosig