The 9 powers of superboss


The 9 powers of superboss

You can become your team's favorite veterinary hero by cultivating these nine traits.
Jan 01, 2009

Illustrations by Jim Haynes
I've seen a lot of bosses in my day. And some of the best I've ever met possess employer superpowers. These superbosses protect their talented team members from low morale, beat back menacing expenses, and transform their practices into the headquarters of the best pet-saving heroes around. Other bosses are more like failed sidekicks. Their team members are miserable and their business stinks. You, of course, want to be a superboss. Or if you're super already, you want to get even better. Here are the nine superpowers of the veterinary practice owner. See if you've got what it takes to be the best—and how you can improve even if you think you're already there.

The bottom line
So, now that you've seen the requisite superpowers under the cape of a superboss, are you the heroic employer you should be or do you fall a little short? Either one is OK. You have nowhere to go now but up, up, and away!

Long-distance vision

Illustrations by Jim Haynes
You don't need to see through walls to have the vision of a superboss. You just need a motivating picture in your head and on paper of what makes your practice great. Once you've got the vision, you need to share that inspiring image of success with your team members.

Some people define vision as seeing what others don't see and having an acute sense of the possible. Any successful business starts at the top with a mission statement or a big-picture view. Do you have a vision for your practice? Have you shared that vision with your team? Your employees, after all, will be the ones to help you make that vision a reality.

A mission statement or motto often defines a vision, but it's much more than words on a page. A vision is the driving force of the practice. It's a standard you use when making decisions so you know you're on the right track and being true to yourself and your practice.

If you already have a written mission or vision statement, evaluate whether it's a reality in your practice. Many successful businesses hold annual retreats with their teams, discuss goals for the year to come, and evaluate how well they're sticking to their mission statement and last year's goals.

Allegiance to the hero's code

A superboss doesn't just tell people to do the right thing. A superboss does the right thing. Bosses who don't follow through on what they say or who ask team members to do one thing and then do something else themselves will never earn respect. Examples include bosses who demand that employees come in on time but who are always late themselves. Or doctors who ask their associate veterinarians to write up complete medical records and follow medical protocols but are always cutting corners on these policies themselves.

I know one practice owner who walked by a cage where a patient had urinated and defecated, looked at it, and just walked on by. Why? He needed to send some personal e-mails in his office. At the next staff meeting he lectured everyone about making sure patients were kept in a clean environment—and he lost a lot of credibility. Excellent employers set the standard with their own actions, never asking their team members to perform tasks they're unwilling to do themselves.

Fiery passion

Illustrations by Jim Haynes
Superbosses love what they do. And like the muscles on the bulging Incredible Hulk, their passion is obvious to everyone around them. Here's a personal example. People often come up to me after a meeting or seminar I've conducted and comment on my passion. It used to surprise me. I'd never really thought of it as passion—I just love what I do, and it shows. But these people are right. I am passionate about what I do, and it's that passion that excites people to improve their practices and make progressive changes.

When a practice owner is passionate, you can see it the moment you walk into his or her practice. It comes through in words, body language, and a beaming sense of pride in the hospital and its team members. It also helps to ignite the passion of everyone else in the practice, creating a self-reinforcing pattern of enthusiasm and motivation.