Leading Your Practice

Making the Switch from Frustrated Parent to Collaborative Community Builder

Are you tired of feeling like a counselor, mediating disputes about workplace music volume and who took Nicole’s lunch? Leaders who take on the role of parent may find themselves feeling frustrated, and asking questions like, “Why does it seem like people need constant guidance in playing well with others?” and “Why won’t they take any responsibility?

Many veterinary practices are attracted to the romantic notion of being a “big happy family.” The difficulty with this is that somebody gets stuck being the parent. And it’s the parent who often finds themselves trying to keep everyone happy.

The Perils of Paternalism

We find ourselves in this parental predicament because modern business stems from a paternalistic model.

The paternalistic view of leadership is one in which the leader plays the role of a benevolent ruler who makes all important decisions, controls all important information, does all the important thinking, and basically directs all the important activities of the organization as he (or she) sees fit. Workers are there to do the work as directed and to seek information or solutions to problems from the leader.

Most businesses, organizations and, yes, veterinary practices operate with a paternalistic approach to leadership and that, more than any other reason, hinders them from becoming truly collaborative and effective.

How can you make the switch from frustrated parent to collaborative community builder? Read on…


  1. I found this to be great insight! I’ve worked for many practices where it felt like the team was not able to collaborate and it ultimately hurt morale. Thank you for providing this information for us!

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