Veterinary Blueprints

#6 - Leading with Purpose: Lessons from the Military for the Veterinary Industry

December 26, 2023 Bill Butler Season 1 Episode 6
Veterinary Blueprints
#6 - Leading with Purpose: Lessons from the Military for the Veterinary Industry
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Let's change the way you perceive leadership with our conversation with Lieutenant Colonel retired Oakland McCullough. You might ask, what can the military teach us about leadership in the veterinary industry? As Oak shares, there's more common ground than you'd think. Drawing on his extensive experience in the US Army, Oak provides valuable insights into leadership principles, scope of control, and the importance of building strong networks. You'll even get a sneak peek into his book, "Your Leadership Legacy: Becoming the Leader You Are Meant to Be".

Ever wondered how the military successfully maps out advancement pathways? Similar paths can be created within civilian organizations, and we'll show you how. We delve into the importance of clearly defining your organization's mission, vision, and culture, and the role servant leadership plays in this. Oak emphasizes the need for caring for people, empowering them, and giving them a purpose to contribute to the betterment of the organization.

You've heard it before, but trust and communication are crucial to leadership. This couldn't be truer, especially when discussing the distinction between a boss and a leader. We also take a closer look at the responsibility that comes with being entrusted with people's well-being and the importance of prioritizing people over rules. We dive into decision-making, exploring how a smaller scope of control can yield better results. By the end of our conversation, you'll understand the power of collaboration, the importance of diverse perspectives, and how to build a team that thrives on trust and clear communication. Join us for a conversation that promises to be as enlightening as it is engaging.

Guest Info -
LTC Oakland (Oak) McCullouch Retired
Website - https://www.ltcoakmcculloch.com/
Speaking - https://www.ltcoakmcculloch.com/speaking
Contact -

Host Information

Bill Buter – Contact Information

Direct – 952-208-7220

https://butlervetinsurance.com/

bill@butlervetinsurance.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/billbutler-cic/

Schedule a Strategy Session with Bill – Strategy Session


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Speaker 1:

Get to know the people you have the privilege to lead, because that's where it all starts.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the Veterinary Blueprint Podcast brought to you by Butler Vet Insurance. Hosted by Bill Butler, the Veterinary Blueprint Podcast is for veterinarians and practice managers who are looking to learn about working on their practice instead of in their practice. Each episode we will bring you successful, proven blueprints from others, both inside and outside the veterinary industry. Welcome to today's episode.

Speaker 3:

Welcome back to the Veterinary Blueprint Podcast. I'm your host, bill Butler, here to guide today's conversation on business and entrepreneurship for your veterinary practice. Today, we're joined by a leader who has mastered the art of leadership in the US Army and beyond. We're joined today by Lieutenant Colonel retired Oakland McCullough. His leadership has been proven in operations from Desert Storm to peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. He's also nurtured future leaders in ROTC programs for the United States Army. Oak is also the author of your leadership legacy becoming the leader you are meant to be, where he distills decades of leadership into actionable wisdom. I hope you're all ready to gain some insights from a leader with lots of experience in leadership. I'd like to welcome today Lieutenant Colonel, retired Oakland McCullough. Welcome, oak, let's dive right in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, how are you doing Bill?

Speaker 3:

I'm great. Now you and I met. I'm excited to have you on the podcast. You were actually on another industry podcast that I just listened to. The other day you and I were introduced by another insurance agent in the industry that I know, rob Bowen. He's in the Navy and you and I were both in the Army, so we don't hold that against him, do we?

Speaker 1:

Not at all.

Speaker 3:

No, rob's a great guy. He just said hey, you're doing a podcast, you have to have Oak on the podcast. I was like Oak, who's this Oak, which is an awesome name for Lieutenant Colonel, by the way, I want to throw that out there's a veteran of the United States Army. What did your troops think about that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I always tell people look with a name like Oak Oakland. People never forget you. That can be good or bad depending on what you just did, but yeah, I think it certainly catches people's attention right away.

Speaker 3:

It did for me when Rob introduced us. My friend insurance agent, rob Bowen, introduced us via LinkedIn and we connected. Then we had a phone call that was supposed to be 10 or 15 minutes and I think we talked for 40, which is what Army veterans wind up doing a lot of times is who are you and where did you go? What did you experience? I was on the enlisted side. It was not an officer. Why don't you just give a quick little background on your background in the Army and then we'll dive into some leadership stuff? Because I think the one thing that I found in my entrepreneurial career is the leadership principles that I learned in the military translate directly to the business world. That's why I wanted to bring you on is so you can share some of your insights about leadership. Tell us a little bit about who Oak is in your military career and how you wound up on this podcast today.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I did 23 years in the Army. I did my first five years as an infantry officer. Then I switched over to Armour Cav and I wrote around on M1 tanks. I did a lot of time in the school house teaching leadership and tactics and higher level tactics division and above and retired my last duty assignment on active duty. I ran an Army ROTC program so I was producing the next generation of leaders for the Army and for the nation Retired from the Army 2009. Ran a food bank for a couple years that covered 52 counties along the Gulf Coast, mississippi, alabama and the Panhandle of Florida and I took that over about a month, month and a half before the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

Speaker 1:

So, I was a little busy during that time and then they offered me to come here to Daytona Beach, Florida, and it's tough to live here, but somebody has to.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you gotta do it right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and so I've been doing recruiting for Army ROTC, so again had my hand in producing the next generation of leaders for the Army for the last 13 years, just retired from that job. Now I'm out on the speaking circuit talking about leadership. I wrote my book, starting to write my second book on success, and was lucky enough to link up with you have Rod link us together so that we could be here right now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think that's one component as well about some of the networks that you build right and you wind up getting attracted to good people, and I think that's not the topic for today, but I think that just is true in life, right, and so one of the things that I thought would be interesting is just, you know, I can speak about my experience in leadership and I was on the non-commissioned officer side, so I was a sergeant in the Army, the backbone of the Army, as we, as we affinitely say.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

And so you know, for those of you not initiated in the military, the officers.

Speaker 3:

So Oak would give the orders and he'd say, Bill, we got to do this, and me as the non-commissioned officer, a sergeant would execute the orders and make sure the team followed out with the commander's intent. So Oak would say we're going to go attack that hill, here's how we're going to, here's what we want to do, and then the sergeants would make sure everyone's ready to take on that mission, whatever it is. And so I think one thing that I'd like to jump into we've got some prepared questions, but one thing that we chatted about before we hopped on was scope of control and command and control. And I see it in my business world, and I see it a little bit in the veterinary side, where I'm going to describe something for you, Oak, and I want to get your opinion on it. So I'm a veterinarian, I purchase a practice, I've got a, you know, a 15-person team working at that practice, and if you were taking a look at that from your viewpoint, how many managers would you have for 15 people?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So first of all, I want to go back to something that you said earlier. Leadership trans, you know, your skills transfer to whatever, and I'm a huge believer in that. That leadership is leadership, because leadership is about people. So if you can lead people, you can lead any organization, it doesn't matter. So in the army and I believe in the civilian world as well, because I don't think it changes the scope is generally three to five people. So you can directly lead three to five people and I don't care how big that organization gets. I mean, if you're talking about in the army, where you're talking about a core commander who's responsible for 50, 60,000 soldiers, he's generally talking to three to five division commanders.

Speaker 3:

Well, think about Joint Chiefs of Staff. There's only five of them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so it really is that scope. And so if I was in charge of 15 people as a veterinarian or anything out there, I would quickly come up with my four or five really good people who I would then train to be what you would call it. What would you call a team?

Speaker 3:

leader. Yeah, team leader right.

Speaker 1:

That would then have scope of responsibility over three to five people or however many people follow under that. So I think, if you look at it that way, then I think you can then handle whatever is going on, and because you're not trying to talk to 15 people, you're talking to four or five people, and I think the key to that is this One you have to develop the culture so that they understand what you want them to do inside of the scope that you want them to do it. Because I always tell people, a leader comes up with a vision and a plan and develops a culture, and the vision is where you want that organization to go, the plan is how you want to get there and the culture is who you are along the way.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

You got to make sure that they understand what your culture, the culture that you want them to live within. Then you got to train them to the standard so that you know that they can do whatever it is you're going to ask them to do. You got to. Then, when you're asking them to do something, you have to give them the resources that are required time, people, money, equipment, whatever it is and then you have to give them the authority to make it happen. You can't give away responsibility. That's yours. Your name is always the name on the blame line as the leader, but you can give away and should as much authority as they need to get that job done. And then you get out of their way and you let them do it. And that's the hardest part sometimes for leaders to step back and let the people that you've trained and given all this to the ability to do it and I use the analogy are they going to do it the exact same way? You would have done it Absolutely not no.

Speaker 1:

Who cares?

Speaker 3:

They might do it better.

Speaker 1:

That's right. The analogy I always use is that seven plus two is nine, but so is six plus three and five plus four and eight plus one. Who cares how you got to nine, as long as you get to nine?

Speaker 3:

Today we need to get to nine. However, whatever math you want to use to get there, three times three. And so it's interesting and I think some people in the insurance industry they look at the culture that I've built at my business and I see culture at different veterinary practices that I go to. In fact there is just my wife shared with me today a local veterinary practice to our market here. I'm not going to name the practice, but they're closing one of the locations because they have a staffing shortage. And I think if there's, like many industries, there's staffing shortages in the veterinary industry, severe staffing shortages in the veterinary industry, and one of them is turnover and retention.

Speaker 3:

And I know that I was a recruiter for three years in the Army. That was for the Army National Guard and we were recruiting and retention NCO. So one part of our job was to get soldiers in and the other thing is retain up the military and I think business spends a lot of time investing in getting the soldier or the employee on board right, Like getting somebody on board. And then if you, because you got a couple of veterans here, we're going to kind of relate this to the Army. You know, for me I went through basic training for ROTC, it's four years in college.

Speaker 3:

If you go to an military academy, it's four years. If you are going to OCS, that's 16 weeks or something like that 90 days, 90 days and so they invest a lot of money just to get you to the minimum standard, just to be able to do the job right. And then from there it's on the job, training and learning how to be a member of a team. You know, I think back to basic training and it's just about learning how to work as a team and how the Army works. And then you actually get to your unit and you learn how to really do the job.

Speaker 1:

I agree, and I think one of the problems that we're seeing today is that I think one of the main issues for this great resignation that we've got going on, where people are leaving companies, leaving organizations, is that people aren't taking care of them.

Speaker 1:

And I don't care who you are. If you have a choice, you're not going to work for somebody who doesn't take care of you. You're going to go find somebody who will. You know it was Richard Branson, was the one who said train people well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don't want to leave. And I think a lot of that comes down to it. And one of the things that I see which is a huge issue, I think, at least from where I'm looking from is that companies and organizations are not providing a pathway for advancement, so they don't have a professional development program, you know, and a professional development program is huge, not just for the leader, but for everybody in the organization, because you're now creating those next generation, those four or five that you're going to the military is pretty good at that.

Speaker 3:

It is showing a path for advancement, right, you know, I know the enlisted side and you know, if you want to do this, it's so much time and great, and you have to have so much time as a private, and then you have to have so much time as a private first class and then a specialist, and then if you want to get promoted to sergeant, there's actually points and all this stuff, and I know the schools that you have to go to.

Speaker 3:

You've got to go to. You know, on the I know all the enlisted side and if you want to get up to levels even higher than you were, there's command college on how to assume that role. So there's a path to get there and so I think I've created one at my business. So I actually have different levels. It's time and grade, it's how much experience and their schooling involved. But I look at it as an internship, not an internship and apprenticeship. So if you think about the trades, right, if you become a plumber you're an apprentice and then you become a journeyman and then you become a master plumber or master electrician and it's it's training and education along the way. You have to go to school and then you actually have to do the job for a certain period of time before you can work your way up and test out to the next level. And I think that's so lost on small business of you're going to come here and you're going to work in this role and there's nowhere for you to go but this role.

Speaker 1:

Right? Well, the problem is in. Why you lose your best people is because if you don't provide them a path to advance, then they're going to go find somebody who does if that's something that they want, and so especially in an industry where there's a lot of opportunity.

Speaker 1:

That's right, and today there is I mean, there's lots of companies out there looking for your good, good talent, and that's the problem. If you don't provide that pathway, the people you're going to lose are your good people, because they're the ones who are going to lose their best people, because they're the ones who want to move up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So who are you stuck with? The people that get the job done but they're not.

Speaker 3:

They don't have the drive the maybe don't get the job done, but they're there and their body.

Speaker 1:

This coasting, yeah Drawing a paycheck.

Speaker 3:

So how would you translate, you know, some of the things that we just talked about to servant leadership? I mean, servant leadership, for you, is a big tenant of your, and you're wearing a shirt that says your leadership legacy, and so for those of you, for those of us who are, for those listeners who are just listening in, so what does servant leadership need to oak?

Speaker 1:

So I believe servant leadership is about taking care of people. And you know, and I get people who say, well, I don't want to be a servant leader because I don't want people to walk all over me. And I said, that's not what servant leadership is about. Being a servant leader guarantees you're going to make people do some things they don't want to do because it's in their best interest and you're taking care of them.

Speaker 1:

So I think the thing I always try to impart on leaders like the lieutenants that we commissioned out, commissioned out of ROTC I would walk up to every one of them the day they got commissioned. I say look, celebrate today, because today is all about you. You get to commission as a second lieutenant United States Army, but just remember now that we've pinned those bars on your shoulder. Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, it will never be about you, ever again. It's about the soldiers, it's about your unit, about the mission, it's about the army, it's about the country. And then, if we have time, we might talk about you maybe, but you know, you've got to understand that it's not about you and it's all about you. It's not about the title you get or the privileges you get or that you get better pay. It's all about how you treat and empower the people in your organization to make them better, which then will make your organization better, and that's what you want in the end.

Speaker 3:

But you have to have a clearly defined mission or vision. You know, in the army we talk. In the military, we talk about mission, which is division. Like you know, the mission is defense of the nation. That's pretty clear cut.

Speaker 3:

But then, underneath all that, what you know whether you're training soldiers or you're part of an infantry unit, or aviation or any of those things you have okay, we're going to go accomplish this job, and what I found in my own personal experience in the civilian world is that a lot of times there isn't a clearly defined mission or vision. It's I sell insurance, or we treat our pets, or you know, we sell shoes, and well, what does that have? You know, where's the greater vision and purpose behind what we're doing? And so, if you can have a clearly defined mission and vision for your organization, whatever that might be and for our listeners, it's taking care of people's animals and they're their animal family as part of that, and so it's how do you go about doing that? What's our culture, what's our ethics and what's our vision, right, I think that encompasses that as well, right?

Speaker 1:

It does. And having that clear-to-lead-defined vision and where you wanna go is huge. And here's why, and when I go around and talk to companies, I always ask what the vision is from the boss. And then I go down to the lowest person in the company. I ask them if they know what the vision is.

Speaker 3:

I know why you're doing that, and sometimes they do.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes they do, but not very often. And then if they do know what the vision is, then I say, okay, what's your part in it? Because if they don't know their part in what the mission is, then it doesn't mean anything, it falls apart right. It means nothing to them, it's just something in the sky. So you gotta really communicate not only what that vision is, but each person's part. Can that be?

Speaker 3:

And how they interact. And again, I don't wanna spend all our time talking about the military, but for what you just described, I was in a school in the military where at a certain point the instructors would walk up to anybody in the unit and say where are we on the map? Where it's our mission? What's the commanders? You know the school I'm talking about. What's the commander's intent? Where are we and what are we doing?

Speaker 3:

And if the person that got asked that didn't have an answer, the person in charge got a no-go or it means they failed that training iteration Because they didn't communicate that well enough. And it was a leadership training school and it teaches you about making sure that everyone's on the same page, and so one of those components of that's trust, right, I think you and I both agree there's good leaders in the military and there's bad leaders in the military. I've worked for good in every profession. I've had more jobs in the military than outside and but I've had both.

Speaker 3:

And trust really falls under that leadership component and running an organization. And you have to trust the team, but they also have to trust you and that you're gonna make the right decision In the roles that you and I had in the past. That meant somebody's life was on the line, potentially, and that your team was relying on you to make the right mission. But now in the civilian world, I'm counted on to make the right decisions for our organization, Cause people are counting on us for their livelihood, that we're gonna stay open and that they have they're putting their trust in me that they've made the right choice at our organization. So for Olk and what he talks about with trust and servant leadership, how does trust kind of work its way in there?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So I think trust is the glue that holds everything together. And when I talk about trust I talk about 360 degree trust. So the lead, the lead, have to trust the leader and the leader has to trust the people that he or she is leading. If that doesn't happen, then the leader led relationship can't work. If the trust is gone, that is broken, then everybody on the team has to trust each other that they're gonna do their part. And then in the civilian world, especially in the business world now you have to take that trust outside your organization to the people that you're serving, because if they don't trust you, they're not gonna come to you, they're gonna go to the person down the street. So I think the trust pieces is the one that holds it all together. If it's broken in any one of those four places, then you got problems in your organization.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you chatted. I was listening to another podcast you were on and you talked about a component where, at a certain point, the employees are just gonna do what you say because you're in charge, you're the boss, your name's on the door, you write the paycheck, whatever that is, so they're just gonna follow you. But then there's also another component of leading where people are gonna follow you in spite of fear or in spite of worrying that it might not work out, but they're just gonna trust you because you are the leader and they're gonna do it because they wanna do it, not because you're telling them to do it right.

Speaker 1:

Yep, your title at that point doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you're the appointed leader. You are the leader, and that's the difference between a leader and a boss. A boss, you do what they tell them. You do what he or she tells you because they're the boss and, like you said, you write the paycheck. You can fire them. Whatever A leader people trust and they will do whatever that they're being asked, not only because they trust the person, but because they bought into your culture, into your vision, into all those things that you, as a leader, are responsible for doing, and they know you're gonna take care of them. So they'll go that extra mile for you where they won't do that for the boss. They'll do what they're told, but they're not gonna go that extra mile.

Speaker 3:

There's two things that came to mind when you just said that. One is on the military. We have a saying. I was in the infantry when it was all male. So respect the man, not the rank. I respect the rank, not the man, or not the soldier, which is basically a way of saying that leader's a piece of junk. But because they're higher rank than me, I have to give them the respect. So you don't wanna be that leader, but you do wanna have. I think there's the element of responsibility. You talked about responsibility and it ties in with the trust component and it's that when you get to the point where people are willing to follow you almost blindly, like whatever Bill says or whatever Oak says goes, I'm gonna do it because I trust them so much as a leader. When you get to that level of responsibility and trust, you have to be very careful with that, because people will do what you ask them to do, even if it's to their detriment.

Speaker 2:

That's right so and again, I'm a huge believer in taking care of people.

Speaker 1:

There's been times in my career where I would ask people that were working for me in the HR section we're gonna do this? And they'd say well, you can't do that because it's against the rules. And I said I don't care what the rules say, that's what we need to do to take care of this person. And I'll give you a letter that says I made you do it. Whatever I mean, I don't have a problem with that. My name's on the blame line anyway. But I'm a firm believer you should never use rules to prevent yourself from taking care of somebody. Now I got it. Rules are there for a reason and you gotta really have a good reason not to follow the rules. But if there is a good reason not to, I'm a firm believer that taking care of people is more important than following a rule.

Speaker 3:

You know we work so hard to build a team that you don't want to tear down the trust and what you've built up as a leader by taking away something that you could have done to help out the team member or help out, you know, promote somebody or bring somebody up within the organization, because in the circles I'm in and I found this to be true your team, they're watching what you do all the time and what you don't do all the time and sometimes what you don't do is even more important than what you did.

Speaker 3:

Oh, absolutely If it's, especially if it's looking out for the team or looking out for. You know, not doing something to look out for the soldiers is about 8,000. Things just flooded in my head of experiences I had in my time in the military. But I want to talk a little bit about communication skills because I think that's often missed as well in a conversation about leadership. And you know, you've got the trust component, you've got, you know, being a good leader and the tenants of good leadership. You know, in the Army we have the seven Army values and leadership is one of them. But how, you know, where have you seen communication work really well as a leader, and maybe an example where you have seen a breakdown?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I mean communication is what leaders do. If you can't communicate with people, you can't be a leader, plain and simple. So I think you know I have had people that, first of all, I think listening is probably one of the most important aspects of communication and it's probably the one we do the least well in general for most people. And I think you know I had a boss who understood that and really that's when I really started to understand.

Speaker 1:

It was watching him and I would come in in the morning and he was a Lieutenant Colonel, I was a captain, so I worked for him and I like one of the first days that I walked in first week, within the first week, I walk in and we meet each other in the hallway and he stops and says how you doing, oak, and I said fine, and I kept walking and he said who Come here? I want to know how you're doing. He said tell me how you're doing. And I was telling him what was going on because you know I just moved, my family wasn't there yet. And how about your wife? Tell me about your wife, tell me about your kids, and so you know, every week or two or every couple of weeks he would stop me in the hall and ask me how things were going.

Speaker 3:

How much effort does that actually take on his part?

Speaker 1:

It took probably about 10 minutes, but you know.

Speaker 3:

but very little effort I mean the actual effort involved is very little to actually have care, concern and communication and then listen to what you're saying, right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then and I knew he was listening because once my family got there and they were involved in stuff, he'd say hey, didn't, didn't your kids play soccer this weekend? So I mean, he listened and I thought I was special, I thought he'd take a lot of interest in me. And then one day I was walking out of my office and he was doing it for another captain. It was down the hall. So he did that was a huge part of his leadership, and so I learned how that made me feel, and so I started to incorporate that in what I did as well.

Speaker 1:

But then you got those leaders who don't listen to anything. You know, just, it's my organization, I'm going to run it the way I want to run it. I don't care what your opinion is, I don't care, you just do what I tell you to do. And we've all worked for that person. And nobody and nobody wants to work for that person, because they're horrible, but they're out there. And then they wonder why nobody's going doing anything extra for them or or helping out when they don't, when they don't have to, but they want to because they don't. They don't. The trust isn't there. All because of communication, and I think that communication is a huge part and you got to get it right, um, in all forms written form, verbal form, non-verbal. I'm a huge believer in handwritten notes. Never, ever underestimate the power of a handwritten note. Um, and then listening, and I think that those are are skills that everybody, whether you're a leader or just want to be successful in life you got to learn those skills.

Speaker 3:

I had the opportunity yesterday to speak to the VBMA, which is the Veterinary Business Management Association, at the University of Minnesota yesterday, and when I got done, the president of the the group handed me a you know little giveaway item very nice little Yeti mug and I was wasn't expecting that and a handwritten note that they wrote during my talk. I think they wrote during the talk. Based on the note, but it filled the entire card. It was signed by the entire leadership team, but it had a couple of things in there that seemed to indicate that it was written during my talk, and I probably read that three times, took a picture of it, sent it to my mom because my mom was so excited that I was speaking at the University of Minnesota.

Speaker 3:

Uh, and this is my first opportunity to do this, and, and, and, while that seems like such a small insignificant thing, just to say, hey, thanks for coming to speak to our group today, and I was the presenter. It made a huge impact on me and so it was like hey, what can I do to help out your organization? You know, and and so I think slowing down right. I think that's one of the things when you're when you're in charge of an organization or leading a team of three people or a team of 15, or you you know, or you're responsible for 15 people and you've got some layers of management in there.

Speaker 3:

Um, just need to slow down just a little bit and think about what you're doing you talked about on the other podcast and I thought about this as well. So in the one uh one school I went to you, they said you have to make a decision good, bad or indifferent but once you make the decision, you need to make it work, whatever it is, even if it's the and you talk. So why don't you expand on your uh, your thought process on on the kind of three decisions you can make?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so every, every time in it and goes goes back to a Teddy Roosevelt quote. Was one of my favorite quotes of his and I have a lot of my like of his, but this is one of his favorites, um, he said every time you come to a point where you got to make a decision, you have three options. Option number one is that you make the best decision, and that's obviously the best option. Option number two you make the worst decision, that the wrong decision, and that's an okay decision. You know, we all do that on occasion. Option number three is you don't make a decision, and that's always the worst decision, because not making a decision is a decision.

Speaker 1:

And one of the ways that I've found to make decisions that works for me is every time I gotta make a decision when I have time. There's times when you don't I got it, but when you have time you pull your junior leaders together, those four or five that you've brought up and kind of put in charge of things underneath you. You bring them together and say, hey, look, this is what we gotta do, this is the problem we gotta solve, this is the decision we have to make. Throw me some ideas and you'll find that you know, just let them throw out ideas. You'll find that somebody you think is one of your top performers every once in a while will throw you a horrible idea, and somebody that you think is one of your weakest links will throw you a great idea. You never know. You're under no obligation as the leader to use any of those ideas, but you can figure out which one are the good ones and which one are the bad ones and you can use or not, use whatever you want.

Speaker 1:

And generally what I've found I've done is I'll take a little bit of your ideas, a little bit of my ideas, a little bit of her ideas and I'll put it together and that's our solution. Two things happen when you do that. Number one you start, you continue to build trust because you've asked them their opinion. Even if you didn't use their opinion this time, you might next time. And number two it's no longer Colonel McCullough's solution, it's our solution, our solution, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Now they got skin in the game. Now they got a reason to make it successful.

Speaker 3:

Especially if it lines up with that vision and the mission of the team, and what that is. You know, our mission at Butler Vet Insurance is to reduce the stress of insurance. Like, hopefully, if you came to our organization today, that's what everyone would say is we work to reduce the stress of insurance. That would be my hope. Otherwise that would be a no go at this station. But you know the component of making sure that you're asking for input because you know, and as you work your way up the chain of command in the military, you're not smarter than other people, you just have more experience.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 3:

That's all you know. That's really what leadership is. It's experience and knowing how to handle situations, but you don't always have all the answers and you can't see everything as it is, cause you're not. One of the unfortunate things that I found to digress about the military for just a second was, once you get promoted above a certain point, you're a little bit removed from the soldiers who are actually doing the work, and I know that with some of the veterinarians that I work with that you know they wind up owning or running their bit. They have partners and they're the ones doing the back end office stuff and they're not getting to practice medicine anymore. They're doing the administrative.

Speaker 3:

And you know, oftentimes in the infantry and you may from the armored infantry the best job that I had was as a team leader, where you're in charge of three people and you're in the. You're leading three people, you're in charge of your team and you're doing the work. You're in command of your little group but you're actually doing the work. And once you kind of get above that level you're not now you're you've got one level between you and the people doing the work and then once you're a platoon sergeant, you get two layers between you and the people doing the work, and then it just it keeps going up. Did you find that as well?

Speaker 1:

I did, and but you know, one of the things that I stress with people is that you must listen to the people who you have the privilege to lead.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

Because they do have answers. And the example I give is I was a brand new second lieutenant, got to my first battalion and there were three lieutenants who showed up that day. There was only one platoon leader spot, for whatever reason. I got the platoon leader spot and the other two went to the staff. They took me out to my company or to my platoon, which was out doing rehearsals for a live fire, dismounted exercise. All morning they'd been rehearsing it.

Speaker 1:

So I got there right at lunch my platoon sergeant still remembering like yesterday, sergeant First Class Benson six foot six, 250 pound country boy from Mississippi put his arm around my shoulder, says, sir, let's go have lunch. So we grab an MRE, we go walk underneath a tree and we sit down. And he said, sir, you know I'm here, I'm 24 years old, brand new second lieutenant. He said, sir, you're the boss, you're the platoon leader. We'll do things any way you want to do it. He said but remember this I've been in the Army for 23 years, so you've been in the Army almost as long as I've been alive.

Speaker 1:

I've seen it done whichever way, every which way it can be done. If you're messing up, I'm going to tell you if you still want to do it that way. We'll do it that way because you're the boss, but my job is to help you understand when you're messing up, and I will tell you. I give Sergeant First Class Benson a lot of credit for turning me into the leader that I became, and so I tell people all the time look if you aren't using those people on your team then you're only using your knowledge, your skills, your abilities, and you don't have all the answers, so use the people on your team.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that was one thing that I've definitely tried to integrate into my team and I think when I look at veterinary practices, there are often 10 to 25 employees and there's only one or two managers that I see involved. There's a practice manager, the owner. Sometimes they might have some team leads, but it's a lot of larger groups and I've heard that the scope of control, that three to five, to kind of go back all the way to the beginning, that goes back all the way to the Roman legions and the military has always had that three to five. Somebody's always in charge of three to five all the way up to the top generals. What is the one? If there's one thing that you always tell someone, or the best gold nugget you have, or what do you end your book with, what's the biggest tenant of leadership that you think we should close with today?

Speaker 1:

So I think, for me, it's get to know the people you have the privilege to lead, because that's where it all starts, that's where the trust starts, that's where the communication starts. If you don't know the people that you're leading, then how do you know which tasks to give them? Because you don't know what they're good at and what they're not good at and I had a boss one time. Well, I tell people there's a couple ways to build that relationship. Number one get out of the office, go down where people are, because if you call somebody into your office and ask them a question, you are gonna get an entirely different answer than if you went down to where they are and asked them that same question.

Speaker 3:

We'd have to go do that and check at the foxhole with them. They wouldn't come to us when I was in a line. That's right. That's right. Number two is.

Speaker 1:

I had a boss who retired a three star general and he said oh, never, ever, ever turn down a chance to go get your own cup of coffee. He said two things happen. Number one you show everybody on your team that you're human just like they are. You have to go get your own cup of coffee. And number two if you're lucky, you got two or three different ways to get to the coffee pot and back to your office and you stop along the way and talk to people. I tell every leader that I talk to I say your goal should be every day, go out and find one person in your organization, just one and find out one new thing about that person.

Speaker 1:

Something personal not about work, something personal what's their spouse name? What's their kid's name, what sports do their kids play? What's their hobby, what do they like, what they don't like and you'll start to get to know that person and the trust will start to build. The downside to that is that I always tell leaders if you're gonna ask questions and you wanna get to know them, you gotta let them get to know you?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, they're gonna wanna get to know you as well.

Speaker 1:

And that's okay. You gotta keep the lead leader relationship. I got it. That doesn't mean that you can't get to know each other.

Speaker 3:

You're all trying to accomplish the same mission together.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Well, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you here. Oak your book, your Leadership Legacy Becoming the Leader you Were Meant to Be. I think that's available on your website. We'll have all of that information in the show notes, but where's the best place for our listeners to find you out? On the internet.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I do have my website, but I'm also on all the social media. I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on Instagram, I'm on X, Twitter, whatever you wanna call me.

Speaker 3:

How many Oak McCollis? Are there two Cs MCCULLOCH out there probably?

Speaker 1:

There are three out there Me, my son and his son. Ha ha ha.

Speaker 3:

Well, there you go. So Oak McCollis, author of your Leadership Legacy, becoming the Leader you Were Meant to Be. He's a speaker, an author and a leadership aficionado from way back in the Army. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast today, oak.

Speaker 1:

I've enjoyed it. Bill, what a pleasure being here.

Speaker 3:

Perfect Well, as always, to our listeners. Make sure to like the podcast, share it with your friends, review it and leave a comment. We appreciate it and check us on the next episode of the Veterinary Blueprints podcast. Thanks for tuning in today. Thanks for tuning in to Veterinary Blueprints. If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions for an episode, I would love to hear from you. Email me at bill at butlervetinsurancecom. Don't forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode. And if you could do me a huge favor you know it helps with the algorithm. If you can like, share or comment on the post, leave a review, I would love it. Thanks for tuning in and until next time.

Leadership Principles and Scope of Control
Importance of Pathways and Servant Leadership
Trust and Communication in Leadership
Effective Decision-Making and Leadership