There are a variety of leadership styles, plans, and techniques commonly recommended to new leaders in veterinary clinics and hospitals. These range from “Democratic leadership” to “Servant leadership” to “Laissez-faire leadership.” CEs, Doctors, and colleagues may suggest a specific leadership style that has worked well for them, and recommend a new leader follow a certain technique. Well this is well intentioned, what has worked for one leader may not work well for another. And more importantly, what has worked well for one employee being lead in the hospital, may not work well for another employee.
Situational Leadership blends many other leadership theories, allowing for the veterinary leader to adapt their style based on the situation and needs of his or her employee.
The Key Aspects of Situational Leadership are:
- A Leader should vary his/her style according to the situation.
- The most important situational factor is The Employee’s “Readiness level“
Employee Readiness Level
- The Employee’s Readiness Level is a function of four variables.
- Task Relevant Training (ABILITY)
- Task Relevant Experience (ABILITY)
- Motivation to Succeed (WILLINGNESS)
- Confidence to Accept Responsibility (WILLINGNESS)
- To determine The Employee’s Readiness Level with respect to a particular task, A Leader must assess The Employee‘s ABILITY and WILLINGNESS.
- There are four Levels of Readiness
- R1 = Very Unable and/or Very Unwilling
- R2 = Somewhat Unable but Willing
- R3 = Able but Not Fully Confident or Not Fully Enthusiastic
- R4 = Very Able, Willing, and Confident
Before a veterinary leader is able to use the situational leadership model, the leader must assess the readiness level of the employee.
Examples of different Readiness Levels in Vet Clinics:
- A newly hired Receptionist who has only a few months of experience in the clinical setting.
- A Veterinary Technician with five years of experience who was just promoted to Shift Leader and does not have experience managing others.
- A relatively new Doctor with only a few months of experience who graduated this past May.
- A Kennel Technician who has been with the organization for a few months and is training with a coach to become a Veterinary Assistant.
- A Receptionist with three years of experience who has recently been asked to help with international travel and scheduling, without having much training in those areas.
- A Doctor with five years of experience who is feeling burnt out after long surgery days.
- A Receptionist Lead who is very experienced in coaching and developing new employees and is preparing to train a newly hired receptionist.
- A Medical Director who has been overseeing medical operations in the hospital for over ten years.
The Case of the New Vet Tech
Ashley Smith completed her veterinary technician program last May. During her last semester, she had interviews with several respected hospitals in town and received two job offers. One offer was from a small, family-owned practice and the other was from a larger, 24-hour clinic. Ashley decided to accept the offer from the larger clinic and agreed to start on June 7. She was assigned to the emergency department and informed of the new hiring paperwork she would need to get done on her first day.
Ashley arrived at the hospital at 8 AM on June 7. The Shift Lead and Tech Supervisor were not expecting her. They had to clear off a station to give her a place to complete her paperwork. They told her it may be several days before her information is entered into their PMS. The Tech Supervisor was very busy covering an emergency shift herself and had no one assigned as Ashley’s coach. Instead, the Shift Lead handed Ashley the hospital’s Employee Manual and told her to read it to gain some knowledge on the background and operations of the hospital.
During Ashley’s first week, nobody spent more than a couple of minutes coaching to her. She was becoming very frustrated and beginning to doubt that she had made a wise decision by joining the larger clinic.
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