Lead with heart

Lead with heart

Your emotional intelligence is key to becoming an effective leader at your veterinary practice. CVC Speaker Betsy Charles, DVM, MA, offers steps to get started on your journey.

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Betsy Charles, DVM, MA, executive director of the Veterinary Leadership Institute, spoke about the value of emotional intelligence for veterinary leadership to a packed room at CVC San Diego on Dec. 9.

She offered key points to start your emotional intelligence journey. First, recognize awareness is key to emotional intelligence. To demonstrate, Dr. Charles showed this awareness test. (Take the test now. We'll wait. Did you see the surprise in the background? Tell us in the comments below.)

What is emotional intelligence?

Dr. Charles points to the Mayer and Salovey definition, which focuses on these four elements:

1. Perceiving emotions and expressing feelings

2. Using emptions to facilitate thought

3. Understanding and managing emotions

4. Using emotions to guide thoughts and behavior

OK, so what's a leader?

Dr. Charles points to the concept of servant leaders. It requires leaders to put their ego aside and focus on serving first, and a critical aspect is leading through example. She uses this definition to explain: "Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals for a common goal."

So why is emotional intelligence at the core of good leadership? Simply put, Dr. Charles says, "You can't lead others if you can't lead yourself."

There are four skill sets to emotionally intelligent leadership, and they can be divided into two categories:

1. Personal leadership, which requires:

• Self-awareness

• Self-management.

2. Social leadership, which requires:

• Social awareness

• Relationship management.

Start by becoming self-aware

You must build self-awareness first, and it's often the most difficult step. Dr. Charles suggests these steps:

1. Use self-assessments, including

• Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator 

• StrengthsFinder 

• DiSC profile 

2. Check out resources, including

• The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

• Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin

• Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and founder of GoodThink Inc.

3. Practice journaling. Two activities to get you started:

• Try a gratitude journal. Write three things you're grateful for each day for 21 days.

• Journal for two minutes each day about the most meaningful parts of your day. Scan for the positive as well as the negative. As yourself, "What went well? What didn't go so well? And what part did I play?"