Who do you imagine when someone asks you to picture a leader? Often times, the classic portrait that comes to mind involves an outgoing, organized and decisive individual. Such person might fall into the ‘thinker’ and ‘judger’ spectrum within the Myers-Briggs scale. There is no doubt that these individuals may possess the qualities of a natural-born leader; however, this image of a leader is evolving as other personality types come to the forefront in leadership roles in complex and ambiguous environments.
Other types of leadership qualities are now being viewed as critical in these situations and are recognized among the more ‘introverted’ or ‘feeling’ types. Sometimes thinking before talking and the value of independent brain-storming can have its own merit, and leadership programs are fostering this type of learning. While in veterinary school, my roommate and I were both strong leaders yet had different approaches to problems. With time, we realized we made a great team: his extroverted nature brought me out of my shell, and he began to process ideas (and often run them by me) before sharing or speaking to the general public. To this day, I highly value my experiences with him and the friendship we shared.
So how as a profession can we foster the unique leadership qualities in every individual? The AVMA has taken steps by supporting leadership development through the sponsorship of endeavors such as the Veterinary Leadership Conference, the Future Leaders Program, and the Veterinary Leadership Experience. Bridging the gap between all leadership styles through collaboration and communication will continue to strengthen our profession as a new and diverse generation of leaders emerge.