I have a small confession to make. About midway through our Future Leaders Program, I was feeling a little discouraged. I was so excited about the program for many reasons. We were going to make amazing networking connections with eachother and the AVMA leadership, we were going to work on a project that would benefit the members of the AVMA, and we were going to receive leadership training. Our first in person meeting delivered on all these promises and I was so excited for the rest of the year working with this group. Then partway through, we were all getting really busy working on our project and it seemed like that was the only aspect of the program that was being executed fully. My disappointment was in the lack of leadership “training” that I had envisioned at the start of the program. However, this disappointment was very short-lived because I soon realized that training can come in many forms. I may not have been sitting through workshops, or lectures, but man was I learning! Through working on our project I was learning more about teamwork and leadership than I could have ever realized. We have gotten so much practice with independent and small group work through the program. Goal setting, mentorship, conference calls, email communication, writing skills, communication skills, agendas, idea generation, scheduling and time management are just a few of the things I have received “training” in by working through our project together. There have been ups and downs, some things have come smoothly and others have taken a few tries to get right.
Our program tasks have been grouped into individual goals and group projects. Within each of these two divisions, we are focusing our work on leadership in our community, our workplace, and organized veterinary medicine. We have set individual goals in these three areas and are working on our own and with the help of a mentor towards accomplishing these goals. Within our larger group of 10, we have divided up into several smaller task forces and most people serve on more than one task force. For each of these task forces, we have emails, conference calls, and working documents to use as tools to help us achieve our goals. Every aspect of this program has delivered valuable leadership training through these experiences.
It has made me think differently about training and learning. As veterinarians, most of us fall into the category of life-long-learners. I feel that its very valuable to realize that learning will come in many different formats throughout our lives. Some of it we will gain from books and lectures, but much of it will be learned in the trenches. I think the important thing is to have a solid base and be willing to jump in and learn as you go even if you feel like you haven’t had all of the formal “training” you think you need.