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Harness your inner strength

Adhere to five core principles to build a resilient veterinary team and practice.

Harness your inner strength
A resilient leader is bold and courageous.

To survive and thrive in today’s fast-changing, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, veterinary practices need to be resilient. We are living with a new set of rules regarding the way we work. To survive and thrive, practices must be purposeful, agile, tenacious and balanced. They must be nimble and adaptive, always reinventing to remain relevant, and they must have the capacity to reinvent and recreate over and over.

A resilient practice is able to ride the winds of change, cope with stress and adversity, adapt in times of chaos, and remain constant in pursuit of its vision. Resilience is about more than wellness; it goes beyond engagement, and it expands the paradigm of total rewards to provide a practical framework for veterinary teams to maintain quality of life while fulfilling the practice’s vision to deliver significant value, produce dramatic bottom-line results and serve the greater good. All with a deep sense of passion and purpose.

Great leaders must develop personal and team resilience to withstand the relentless demands and pressures of day-to-day life, remain calm in the frantic chaos of society, and embrace constant changes so they can continue to thrive and, in turn, inspire and lead resilient teams. The solution is simple and surprisingly fun.

Author and business consultant Sandy Asch lists five core principles to building personal and team resilience.

1. Emotional Resilience

This is a leader’s ability to remain calm and self-regulate when under pressure. You respond rather than react in difficult circumstances. You maintain self-control, exercise empathy and are non-judgmental of others.

To build emotional resilience, you must first understand your triggers. What is your biggest trigger? How do you typically react when this trigger is activated? Understanding your triggers and their impact on your leadership effectiveness will afford you the self-awareness needed to build emotional resilience in challenging and trying times. The same principles apply to team resilience.

2. Physical Resilience

Never underestimate the toll that stress takes on your body. Managing stress, keeping yourself in a peak state, and making wise use of your time and energy are essential components of physical resilience. To build physical resilience you must remain focused and be present, set clear boundaries, and manage your time, attention and energy effectively.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with emails, messages, tweets and notifications, being able to block off time for yourself, your family and your friends is a necessary step in maintaining your well-being. As a leader, you need to encourage your team members to apply the same principles, and give them the time and space to do so.

3. Relational Resilience

We are often unable to bring our true, authentic self to the workplace. We are taught to think negatively, and we engage in conversations that take people down. We criticize, condemn and complain about the behavior of others while getting wrapped up in what is not working rather than maintaining positivity.

Relational resilience is the ability to be truthful, transparent, authentic and relentlessly positive. To build relational resilience you must refrain from participating in negative conversations and redirect them to create possibility. Give everyone, such as clients and coworkers, the benefit of the doubt and ask yourself what you might do to help them have a deeper understanding of a situation.

Relational resilience is also the ability to give constructive feedback, focusing on facts rather than feelings, with the intention of directing learning and growth.

4. Value Resilience

This is the ability to remain true to your purpose and act in accordance with your deepest values. For an organization, this means the entire team is bonded to the organization’s mission and purpose. Organizational success is driven by employees’ personal values being in alignment with the organization’s values. A disconnect in values results in dissonance, frustration and lack of fulfillment.

To build your value resilience, you must demonstrate kindness and compassion to your colleagues. You must make sure your team feels valued and appreciated. You must demonstrate leadership behaviors that align with your personal and organizational values. You must help others manifest their full potential.

When you exercise value resilience, you make better decisions, build trust, develop stronger, more loyal relationships and improve business outcomes.

5. Mental Resilience

A resilient leader is bold and courageous. You push yourself beyond the limitations of old habits and preconceptions. You are tenacious and exercise perseverance. You constantly challenge the status quo.

To build mental resilience, you must stop getting caught up in the nitty-gritty and focus your time and energy on your true purpose no matter how bold or audacious. Resilient leaders stop making excuses because excuses prevent you from bringing your best self to the workplace.

You must constantly learn and grow in order to stay relevant. Complacency is the enemy of resilience. Resilient leaders encourage team members to set development growth goals for themselves and to facilitate the provision of tools to realize those goals

If you want to learn more and develop these five foundational pillars of resilience, the best-selling book “Roar: How to Build a Resilient Organization the World Famous San Diego Zoo Way,” by Asch and Tim Mulligan, will help guide you through these principles and practices. (Bonus: Book profits go to the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy.)

VetPartners member Dr. Joy Fuhrman is director of finance and operations at Shepherd Software Inc.