What is the Role of a Leader?

by Jan 13, 2022Practice Finance, Success

I recently heard a practice owner say “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow, it’s my admin day.” 

On the one hand, I was happy for her. A non-clinical day is necessary to manage a practice. 

But on the other hand, why is a practice owner doing admin work? 

Is it just an expression or a reality? 

Was she going to pay bills (admin work), aka a $20/hour task? 

Or was she going to review her strategy for the upcoming quarter, aka a $10,000/hour task?  

Did she really mean “It’s my admin day” or rather “It’s my CEO day”? 

Whether you are a practice owner or a team leader, what should you be doing with your non-clinical time? 

Since your time is valuable, this blog is more of a checklist than a longform article. 

Here is non-exhaustive list of things you SHOULD take care of:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Core values
  • Culture
  • Strategy
  • Right people in the right seats
  • Growing team members
  • Innovating
  • Critical thinking
  • Learning
  • Growing leaders
  • Networking
  • Constant improvement (Kaizen)
  • Planning the next staff meeting or the next morning huddle
  • Delegating
  • Outsourcing
  • Systematization (building systems)
  • Reviewing protocols/SOPs
  • Problem-solving
  • Deep thinking
  • Planning
  • Self-development
  • Reviewing financial reports with a pro
  • Pricing strategy
  • High level negotiations
  • Really, really important meetings

Here is non-exhaustive list of things you should NOT handle:

  • Admin work (see above)
  • Micromanaging
  • Drawing blood
  • Processing bloodwork
  • Bookkeeping
  • Clipping patients
  • Payroll
  • Cleaning cages
  • Accounting
  • Mopping the floor
  • IT issues
  • Unpacking boxes
  • Website management
  • Doing & folding laundry 
  • Social media
  • Cleaning
  • Unproductive calls
  • Ordering (anything)
  • Unproductive meetings
  • Running errands (post office, peanut butter, cat litter, light bulbs, laundry detergent, distilled water etc.)

Look: we know you are the David Copperfield of cleaning up, the ninja of opening boxes, and the Marie Kondo of folding. We know you can perform most of these lower value tasks. But just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. 

As the leader of the pack, you need to focus on high value activities. And therefore, you need to avoid low value activities like the plague. That is… unless you really enjoy working 100 hours per week… 

When it comes to delegating, the most common pitfall is to think “I can’t afford it” or “I can’t afford it right now” or “It’s only going to take me 10 minutes.” 

In reality, you can’t afford NOT to. Every time you fall into that trap, you rob your team, your patients and your practice of your unique skills, experienced leadership and visionary guidance. 

Now, please don’t get us wrong. If you’re short-staffed, it’s perfectly acceptable, and even recommended, to help your team. They will love you for it. But it should be the exception, not the norm. 

The next issue is: when should you do this work? Preferably not right after lunch or at 11 PM. Plan a dedicated block of time when you’re at your best (“peak time”) or when you are the most focused and productive. 

So embrace your role as the leader, or the CEO, or the owner, and take your team and your practice to the level they deserve. 

It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity. 

Oh, and don’t call your non-clinical day an “admin day.” 

Call it a “CEO day,” you’ll feel like a million dollars!!!

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit