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Building your Leadership Toolkit

The launch of our NEW ‘The Confident Vet Nurse’ programme has got us thinking about confidence, specifically what it is and how we develop it. After mulling this over some more, it appeared many of our thoughts link back to leadership, whether that’s self-leadership or leading others.

All too often nurses find themselves navigating a journey of development where they find themselves in leadership roles having little opportunity for training or development of the skills required to be a great leader. Here are a few top tips to help you build your leadership toolkit from the ground up

Practice leading

Effective leadership is vital to the success and wellbeing of the veterinary profession. Every person in every role within the profession leads in some capacity on a daily basis, whether that’s leading clients, colleagues and/or themselves. 

Practising, developing and gaining confidence in your ability to lead will ensure you remain at the top of your game, and opportunities to do this present themselves regularly– if you look for them and embrace them. This can be in the form of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and into your stretch zone, but taking on projects that can allow you to develop a comprehensive skill set and tool box which will allow you to feel more prepared, capable and confident when stepping in to your leadership role.

Seek and embrace opportunities when they arise, don’t be afraid to put your hand up. If you feel something could be done a better, quicker or more robust way gather the evidence, propose the ideas and offer to take the driving seat.

Know what you want and the stepping-stones to get there

Leadership is also very personal; no two leadership styles will be the same. Consider what is important to you and practise your self-leadership by drawing up plans and pathways to achieve your goals. 

Whether you are leading yourself or a team, having a:

Specific goal (common or individual) which is

Measurable (how can you measure your success), ensure the end goal is also

Achievable (whilst X might be wonderful, Y might be realistic and better than Z which you currently have. Is what you are aiming for 

Relevant (if this is a team project is it relevant to those involved and have you involved all those who are relevant to the project?) finally, is it

Timely – the right time? Have you allowed enough time? How much time do you need?

Making sure you have a SMART plan for any projects, goals or aspirations significantly increases your likelihood of success

What are your strengths, skills and super-powers? 

If you have a moment of doubt about your ability to lead yourself or others, a useful exercise to do is to reflect on the strengths, skills and superpowers you possess and consider how you can most pull on these to help you achieve success.


Good communicator







Superpower – working as a team/inclusion

Remember a strength over used can become a weakness!

Walking the talk – leading by example

Do as I say, not as I do’ is always a good thing to remember – the senior manager who never takes a lunch break, the perfectionist who is unwilling to delegate, the overachiever who is too time pressured to complete a checklist. These behaviours undoubtedly stem from a personal desire for high performance. However, without the qualities of self-awareness, self-control, self-knowledge and personal reflection, such leaders are at risk of leading by bad example.

Which hat are you choosing?

Within a leadership role, there will be a need to reach for a variety of hats at any given moment. You will need to switch between coaching, mentoring, teaching, managing and possibly many others linked to other aspects of your role. Personal coaching techniques can help individuals identify their goals and needs, then support and empower them to deliver on their aspirations. If you know the right hat to choose, the rest is much easier!


  • Know your skill set, strengths and super-powers
  • Leading by example is key
  • Be clear about your own vision, values and goals
  • Develop awareness of which hat to wear when
  • Lean into your stretch zone and practice rather than wait to arrive at the next level of leadership.

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.