Helen Silver-MacMahon is the speaker for this webinar which aims to provide a supportive and solution-focused session that considers the elements of leadership that are essential for individuals to effectively lead, manage and motivate teams to ensure high performance and exceptional patient care. In this webinar, Helen seeks to explore the definitions, pitfalls and attributes of effective leadership and discuss the practical aspects of being an effective leader within a veterinary nursing team. With thanks to ManyPets for sponsoring this webinar. 

Helen begins the webinar by addressing what leadership is, and how it differs from authority. Leadership is an acquired skill, where one must learn and practice it, whereas authority is something that is assigned. During the webinar she gives many definitions of leadership and of a leader. 

The moment we acquire a position of authority or power, it is up to our behaviour and actions to set an example that people will want to follow. If we fail to set an example, we are only managing people and not leading them. 

How can we be an effective leader?

Helen gives us 4 elements of leadership that must be fulfilled to be a good leader and explains each of these 4 elements and how to manage them according to good leadership.  

She also presents a NASA study, where we can see a list of attributes and characteristics of a good leader. 

It is also mentioned that people in leadership positions are also prone to elevated levels of stress, so having the ability to remain calm and have stress resilience is a good attribute for leaders. 

Team vs Teaming

We know that in veterinary medicine we are not always going to work with the same person, or the same team, which is why Helen gives us a new definition and that is teaming. According to the definition she gives teaming “is a collaboration and coordination to get important things done without the luxury of stable membership“.  

It is about being dynamic in our work and works very well with changing teams that include students, locums, and rotating interns.

Helen gives some steps on how to practice teaming and how to approach it in the workplace. 

The webinar is very dynamic as Helen adds an exercise for all those watching. The exercise is about recognising our strengths and what kind of a leader we want to be.  

The exercise is based on four points: 

  1. Realised strengths  
  1. Unrealised strengths  
  1. Learned behaviours 
  1. Weaknesses 

There are 8 types of leadership styles and Helen mentions and describes each of them. She also notes and explains the three types of leadership theories. 

In Veterinary practice there is no single approach and Helen calls it ‘The Messy Reality’, which is why she gives 3 elements that can be applied in daily practice. 

The first is situational leadership. This is where there is no one type of leadership that fits all situations. So, we must adapt to different situations and adjust the requirements, depending on the team, the task, and the individual. Helen gives examples of this first element. 

The second type of leadership that may be applicable to veterinary work is shared leadership. This is where roles and responsibilities are distributed within the team. 

The third type is compassionate leadership, where guidance, support and effective communication about compassionate care is what governs this type of leadership. 

Helen dives into the importance of communication. She explains that half of the way we communicate is body language, followed by the tone of voice we use, and the lowest percentage is the words we use. So, we must consider how our non-verbal communication can impact what we are saying. 

She also explains what some of the barriers can be that prevent us from having effective communication and how we can overcome them or work on them. Helen then provides us with the principles of communication. 

She ends the webinar by talking about how leaders can build trust with their team and how to do it.

Leave in the comments what you thought of the webinar 👇