Episode 24 – Unconventional Leadership in Veterinary Medicine with Iggy Perillo

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Please click to see a full transcript but please excuse any errors – it was auto-transcribed using Otter.ai!

Stacey Cordivano 0:07
Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to The Whole Veterinarian.

Stacey Cordivano 0:35
I’m so happy to be back with Iggy Perillo of WSL Leadership Coaching. Iggy joined me for a quick bonus episode on mastermind groups back in November and today we are going to talk about unconventional leadership and dive a little bit into team communications in the workplace. Just as a little bit of a background, Iggy cultivates masterminds for professionals and athletes in unique communities who are seeking excellence in their work, sport and life. She created WSL leadership coaching to develop leaders and teams who make the world a better place through enhanced connection, communication and trust. She works with individuals teams and organizations around the world helping them overcome challenges and function like champions. We definitely need more of that in veterinary medicine, don’t you think? I hope you enjoy the episode and definitely stay tuned until the end. I’ll talk a little bit more about the current offerings. She definitely has new mastermind groups starting in April. She is also now hosting a free leadership ecosystem lunch and she has a leadership skills for everyday life masterclass, starting soon, I’ll make sure to recap those at the end and I’ll also include them in the show notes. Here’s a quick add and then please enjoy my chat with ag questions about finances vincere wealth management is the solution.

Stacey Cordivano 1:57
Isaiah Douglas is a partner of Vincere Wealth Management and the host of The Veterinarian Success podcast. He is a fee only certified financial planner and he and the Vincere team are dedicated to serving veterinarians in all stages of their careers. Vincere can assist you whether you are a new graduate getting started or an experienced vet trying to navigate selling your clinic and moving into retirement. You have enough stress in your life. Finances no longer need to be on that list. You can find a link to download their free guide called a financial guide for veterinarians on my website at thewholeveterinarian.com/resources. Thanks and enjoy the episode.

Stacey Cordivano 2:39
Iggy, thank you so much for joining me again. I’m so glad to have you back.

Iggy Perillo 2:42
I’m excited to be back again. Thanks so much.

Stacey Cordivano 2:45
I was hoping that we can talk a little bit about leadership today. I know that’s one of your big areas of focus. And I really feel like veterinarians aren’t well trained and leadership. But inherently, our roles put us in leadership positions no matter where we are, whether we’re the boss, whether we’re an associate veterinarian, whether we work in a shelter medicine situation. Even in emergency situations, we like very much become a leader. And it’s certainly not something that’s well developed during veterinary school. So I definitely want to dive into the topic a bit. But I was hoping you could tell listeners a little bit about your background,

Iggy Perillo 3:27
do you say as nerd just then because I resonate with that. And that’s amazing. And maybe that’s not what you said and what I heard him like,

Stacey Cordivano 3:34
I didn’t say nerds, but we are nerds.

Iggy Perillo 3:38
I have a master’s degree in experiential education. And I’ve been spending the past 20 years working with individuals and groups in either corporate, nonprofit or athletic environments, helping them teams work together better, but also specifically working with team leaders. And in a sports environment that could be like your team captain. Or it could be someone running a league or running, you know, in a hierarchy within an organization. But similarly in corporate and nonprofit worlds, working with people who are like a team leader or a team boss, or it could be like an HR department who feels like that role fits into like a leadership structure within a hierarchy, or literally like executive councils executive cruise within within organizations because they buy title, a leadership role, but don’t always feel like they have the skills to be that leader that they want to be and I would say veterinarians are not alone in feeling like they were trained and like are all gung ho, then suddenly, this other thing is asked of them that they’re like I didn’t I’m not sure you know, it. Just how does this fit in? Yeah, or it just isn’t the strong part of your training when you have a lot of other training to do this more technical, perhaps.

Stacey Cordivano 4:42
Right. So where would you start with someone who comes to you and says, Look, I am working. I feel really confident my skills, but I have these people that report to me and I’m not even the boss but they are looking to me I’d like to effect change, like, where does someone even start in that situation?

Iggy Perillo 5:05
That’s a great question. And again, I would say you’re not alone. I’m a huge advocate for anyone within an organization like leadership to me means you have influence and interact with other people. And so it doesn’t mean you need a title to be the leader Are you need, oh, this is my role to be the leader, like by the structure, whatever. I think so many more organizations or interactions are better people take on that leadership, active role in engaging with people in positive and I don’t know, I want to say pro social ways, but also like pro goal ways and pro values ways. So I would talk with that person. And I think people usually have a story when they come to me like, Oh, this one person is on my nerves, or I tried to do this thing, and it falls flat. And I don’t know why. Or I really want to affect change, like you were saying, and things, it’s just not happening or not working out. Well. I appreciate having conversation with people around their values and what they are bringing to that situation, like what matters to them. A lot of leadership challenges and struggles come from mismatched expectations. And this met expectations that come often from miscommunication or missed communication, that just doesn’t work. And so understanding your values that underlie some of this really helps clarify for people, oh, I really value being really creative in this organization, and someone else might value sticking to the rules, you know, so then suddenly, you’re gonna have a conflict, right? Or for sure, yeah, someone who values, things, having a really set structure, and someone who values things being really flexible, and like adaptable on the fly, those types of personalities can easily conflict as a personality, but helping the person in a leadership role, who wants to engage more as a leader, understand where their values lie, and also where their strengths lie in their communication style in how they think about things in their attention to the world around them, and their how they perceive people around them. There’s a million different sort of categories and ways to like sort people. But to me, it fundamentally comes down to having them understand themselves. Like, oh, I really am focused on details, and I really am engaged with honesty is important to me, and integrity, like great, cool, if you know you’re a detail oriented, honesty, integrity person, fantastic. Once you understand that, and can articulate that whatever that is for you as a person, it becomes clear that other people are not like you, right? Like, we are a variety of people who knew. And once you realize people are not like you, but they are equally valid, and equally important, and equally committed to how they function and see the world. I think that clarifies for a lot of people, why things aren’t going the way they want, or how to either build a bridge to this person and be like, Oh, I see all the details. And you’re really focused on the big picture, we need to connect somewhere in between, because it’s not working while I’m over here talking about, you know, dot these three i’s and cross these three T’s and you’re over here talking about, like, you know, literature, you know, like that, you’re not going to have a very meaningful conversation if you’re sort of on these different wavelengths. So understanding values, how you function, what goes on for you how you process things. If nothing else, then you can know who you are better. That’s always I think, a fine thing. Yeah. And on the flip side, it helps you understand how you relate and interact with other people better or other groups of people. And knowing that within a group, like it’s on you a little bit to build a bridge, but it’s also easier to communicate with them to say, hey, big picture person, I’m focused on the details. Here’s where we’re gonna meet in the middle, and big picture person might be like, Oh, yeah, details also matter, great. you’re communicating in a way that you both are building a bridge that works so much better than one person trying to make the whole leap on their own. Once people are understanding themselves better, then it’s easier to talk maybe more specific strategies about the communication, what they want to have happen, the goals that they’re focused on. And why because as we just mentioned, super briefly earlier, just prefer this call adult learners want to know why things are happening a little bit what’s in it for me, but a little bit more like, I don’t get it, I need to place this when the structure and patterns that I understand how the world fit. So I need to know why this is going on? Or why is this happening? And then they’re way more likely to be on board and connect about things?

Stacey Cordivano 8:49
Do you have any advice for someone who say they do a little bit of this work and really try to clarify their values. And then the person on the other side is either not willing to do that, or like not capable of doing that. And the first things that popped in my head are like, you know, a younger associate, or someone trying to buy in and you know, an older practitioner who’s sort of set in their ways and just bumping heads with that person. Like, that’s a very generic example. But do you have any advice in that situation?

Iggy Perillo 9:17
I would say, maybe generic example. But also, we call that a classic example, right, the young whippersnappers, full of energy and change, everything’s gonna be better. And the person has been around the block is like, I’ve been around the block, simmer down, you know, like, you’re not alone. Again, I think I’m gonna tell you that a million times during this talk. But I think the the conversations that need to happen then might be around your shared goals. Like what are we here doing together? Like, why are the two of us even in this space together? We’re in this we’re share a practice together, we share a working relationship we share whatever it is that like, the reason that we’re together probably has some shared goal, like our goal is actually to deliver excellent care to the people in this area, or to the the animals we serve, or whatever it is that your parameters are for. Why Together, I think we assume that we’re on the same page with our goals often. And I think that is like an interesting part that again, these assumptions lead to this miscommunication and miscommunication which lead to conflict and confusion. And fundamentally, like a lot of, I would say, like energy that’s just sort of dispersed and wasted, when it could be focused on goal attainment a little bit. So understanding why you’re together, why you’re doing the thing, and then what your actual goals are in articulating those to the other person. I’ve definitely worked with people who are like, Oh, well, it’s obvious, we’re here to do XYZ. But then if I go and have a conversation with this other person, you know, out of earshot, they’re like, Oh, it’s obvious, we’re here to do ABC, you know, and you’re like, Whoa, okay, like you don’t even agree. So I would just have a very clear conversation around purpose, that purpose, slash goals, you know, mission, I think those are articulated different ways in different organizations. And I would say those conversations, maybe need to happen more often than we think like a new person joins a practice is pretty obvious, like, Hey, did you see the goal statement? Cool, and they signed it, and they call it a day and live with her life? You know, like, I think some of these things are sort of swept in under the rug a little bit or just assumed, or they’re on the website, or, you know, they’re kind of posted out there, there’s a poster in the office, or whatever it is, but they’re not really articulated. And some of those things are not really what happens either. Yeah, what is it we’re actually doing and our actual goal that we literally are doing, and not just like this aspirational poster website, you know, kind of statements that are out there sometimes?

Stacey Cordivano 11:22
Do you ever find that you work with people who then just sort of need to, like, call it?

Iggy Perillo 11:30
Like, it’s not working? Yeah, hmm.

Stacey Cordivano 11:32
How do you develop sort of, I don’t know if confidence is the right word, but the knowledge to know that this really isn’t? Like, I’m not able to take a leadership role, or I’m trying to take a leadership role, and I’m not able to affect change in a way that I would like to, sir, I feel like probably a lot of vets are in that circumstance, but feel a little bit stuck. Hmm.

Iggy Perillo 11:57
Interesting. Would you say the situation is that things aren’t going well, in some way, but they aren’t quite sure what to do about it, or that they’ve tried things, and it hasn’t really worked to make the changes they want or a mix of those,

Stacey Cordivano 12:09
I think a mix. So I think, you know, certainly you can be so swamped with everything else that you haven’t found the time or energy to try to affect change. And then I certainly know people in other situations that we have talked about these goals, and I am working towards them, but you as another leader in this group or not. And I just feel really unhappy.

Iggy Perillo 12:31
Yeah, like when you’re obviously not on the same page, you’ve had a conversation with Yeah, our goals were shared. They’re amazing. And then everyone goes back to the status quo. And you’re like, what happened? Like, that definitely does happen. And it’s pretty situational. So it’s hard to give like a really sure, like, just call it quits and hit the road. Like, that’s not really universally the right answer. But it could be for you or for your situation. I think if you’re trying to affect change, like behavior change, and another person, there’s a lot of strategies to help support someone else in behavior change, for example, like that would be the framework I’m going for. Right? Okay. Yeah. And I suspect, some of your folks are actually animal trainers, too. I feel I don’t know if that’s really true. But like, if you spent enough time with animals like there, there are ways that you train behavior and animal. Sure, yes, and I would say these are the same ways you train behavior in people, only the treats are a little bit different. And so basically, like, there are ways to support behavior change. Side note completely. My favorite book about behavior change is called don’t shoot the dog, which is literally about training animals. I don’t know if you’ve read this one. It’s out of print now. But it’s, it’s fascinating. And this was the folks that developed clicker training.

Stacey Cordivano 13:36
Oh, yeah. Yeah, we all know about clicker training.

Iggy Perillo 13:38
Oh, good. I’m glad. So me and my like, out of date book is still relevant. But they also talk about, you know, the similar, they really move toward applying that toward people, but it was based for other animals. And so if I’m trying to change someone else’s behavior, for humans, having those really, I think they can be actually hard and kind of tense feeling conversations, but they are worth it over time. If you’re going into a conversation being like, we don’t agree, I know we’re on different pages, people sort of hesitate to engage in those conversations, sometimes because they feel awkward, or they feel tense, or, like, I feel like I’m calling someone out, or I feel like I’m gonna get called out or it can feel threatening, I think to some folks, if you feel any of that, you’re not alone and have the conversation anyway, because that is really the first thing that needs to happen with humans, that Luckily, it makes us different from many other animals, it’s hard to have those types of conversation. But once you get into those, you are sharing those values, you know, like, this is like the values. But I think also you need to get to the behavior that is problematic to like, Hey, you know, I thought we were all going to be at work at 9am. And you roll in at 930. Every day, being really specific about the behavior, you see this not meeting these expectations, right? Or we want to create this vibe, that’s really homey and I see you at lunch, just like hop in your car and speed out here. 100 miles per hour and not spend time with anyone you know, like not build a sense of community, whatever it is that you want to have happen and whatever the behavior is, it’s not alignment with what you have happened needs to be actually Literally clearly spelled out in a way that people understand what you’re talking about, because this is another popular place where people are uncomfortable. And so they hold back a little bit. And then they’re like, it’s obvious. And like, it’s probably literally not like if you just told me like, it’s really obvious how you build a positive workplace, I might be like, I have no idea what you mean, like how do you know how you build a positive workplace is very different than how I might or, you know, another person might write. So having those tough conversations is really important. And I think fundamentally, supporting people in behavior change is like people might need support their habits, people aren’t going to change overnight, people aren’t going to immediately be like, Oh, yeah, I need to be here for lunch. Okay, no problem, when in reality, you might find out like, Oh, they had to go take care of a parent during lunch, you might get a huge level of understanding that you never had before. Those building those bridges really help things to side note approaching these conversations with a sense of curiosity versus here, let me tell you what you’re doing wrong. And how terrible you are, is going to go 100 times further and approaching with like, tell me about this thing. What’s going on here? When this happens? Like I think we should be acting like this, but I see you doing this thing, like, the more specific those examples are, the better. And opening that as a dialogue versus I’m going to show up and tell you what’s wrong with you and know how to fix everything is. Dialogue is far better in all these situations with humans. FYI, I know you work the animals to humans, like dialogue, got it? having those conversations, I think help, even if they’re uncomfortable, and they’re specific, will also help. And I think then fundamentally, you have conversations, you build bridges, you check for understanding, do you get this? Does this make sense? You know, there’s like a lot of sort of ways, it feels a little stilted to be like, Hey, can you tell me what you think I’m saying and like having the person tell you back, because I think even we hear we say the same words that like I say, positive environment, and you hear one thing, and I hear something different, you know, like being a specific, making sure you’re clear. And fundamental. You might have people who are like, I’m actually just not into that, or that’s not how I want this to be or I think you might hear people say like, I didn’t sign up for this, right? Like, I signed up to do this thing over here. And that’s what I’m committed to, but not what you’re telling me or what you’re engaging in, or what you want for me. People might just not fit like that might not fit in the environment you’re working for. And that’s like, I would have a lot of hard conversations are hard by heart. I mean, like awkward, uncomfortable, slow, dragging out, maybe feeling conversations first, that are curious and invite dialogue. Before I like try to sever a relationship or, you know, fire someone or leave or you know, like any of that.

Stacey Cordivano 17:25
Yeah, it’s sort of like a positive. Even if you end up leaving if you’ve done all this positive work. Yeah. You can’t feel too bad about

Iggy Perillo 17:34
Oh, yeah, for sure.

Stacey Cordivano 17:36
That’s good advice. Yeah, I like that.

Iggy Perillo 17:38
And you build connections, and it literally might not work out. And people might have different needs. And like looking at how we’re we’re meeting everyone’s needs is another sort of angle to look at this thing, if you have a really strong need for control, as a practitioner, and someone else has a really strong need for fun as a practitioner, like you might butt heads along the way. But maybe, but either one is not necessarily better or worse than the other. Either one could be too much of a good thing could be a bad thing for either of those. So trying to find that way that you can all meet your needs in a way that supports your shared mission shared vision and shared goals. And at the end of all that conversation, like you can give yourself a timeline like, Hey, we’re gonna come back and revisit and meet this, you know, back on this in a week, a month, whatever it is that makes sense for your situation. And if it’s not working out, I mean, it’s not working out. Yeah, like your your energy is been invested. And you’re like, This energy is, is draining to me. And I can’t actually maintain this level investment in trying to change this thing. That’s not changing. Maybe it’s time to reinvest your energy differently.

Stacey Cordivano 18:35
That’s great advice. So you mentioned one book, do you have any other resources that you often recommend to people to help with leadership?

Iggy Perillo 18:43
Don’t shoot the dog doesn’t come up that often strangely, but it did today. So there we go. Yes, I actually have my own sort of self contained podcast on my website, that is all books that I’ve read, that I think are useful and apply to most people in leadership types of situations and some of my favorites. And those episodes are all really short, like 15 or 20 minutes. I really like Mindset by Carol Dweck is an excellent book about how our mindset affects what we choose what we do, and fundamentally our happiness. And this is she’s the originator of the term growth mindset versus fixed mindset. And so that her research is as a educational psychologist, and it’s, I love it. And it’s super fascinating and really speaks to how we approach things. And we can approach different things in our life as a fixed or growth mindset. So it I think it’s just an interesting lens to look at why we’re choosing what we’re choosing and what we’re doing, but also to look at other people when we’re like, I’m so frustrated, why can’t they XYZ you’re like, Oh, am I approaching this with a fixed or growth mindset? And are they approaching this with a fixed or growth mindset? And just like another channel of communication, I think. So, I love that one.

Stacey Cordivano 19:44

Iggy Perillo 19:45
I love Drive by Daniel Pink, which talks about how we motivate people to be a little more business II workplace focused, but if we don’t have autonomy or purpose or mastery, and preferably all three, we’re going to lose motivation in anything we’re doing. And so I feel like You end up talking about that a lot in terms of why do I feel burnt out about this thing? Or why am I losing steam on this concept? Or why are people leaving left and right? Perhaps as a leader, you’re not providing autonomy or purpose or mastery in ways that are meaningful to people.

Stacey Cordivano 20:14
That’s very relevant. I feel like

Iggy Perillo 20:16
Oh, yeah. Why do you say that?

Stacey Cordivano 20:19
Well, in equine medicine anyway, people are leaving en mass. And I feel like perhaps the biggest complaint is lack of work life balance, or need to cover emergency call versus small animal. So like pretty much zero autonomy there.

Iggy Perillo 20:36
Oh, Just because, you know, someone could call you anytime.

Stacey Cordivano 20:39

Iggy Perillo 20:39
yeah, that’s rough. That is rough.

Stacey Cordivano 20:42
Okay, great. I definitely have to look into that book.

Iggy Perillo 20:44
I mean, there’s so many, like millions of books that are in my mind, but those two come to mind is very frequently things that I end up engaging with people on like just languages to share and talk about.

Stacey Cordivano 20:53
Okay, perfect. So where can people find out more information about you and services that you’re offering?

Iggy Perillo 20:59
I am at work sport, life calm. And I am starting masterminds for veterinarians and other unique populations. And so work sport life.com slash masterminds is where that info is. And if people are curious, or have any questions about the work I do, or anything that I do, there’s a button to just schedule a time to chat with me and talk with them about either leadership, working with their team masterminds, any of those types of topics, I’m always down to talk.

Stacey Cordivano 21:23
Awesome, great, I appreciate it. I really appreciate your time and insight. I feel like this was a unique perspective. And I know you’re not completely immersed in our industry, but I kind of like that, because it’s a little bit of a different spin. Thanks.

Iggy Perillo 21:38
I’d like to thank the leadership and team development is not tied to any one industry. So I’m glad that there’s some resonance for you.

Stacey Cordivano 21:44
Yeah, I agree. It was great. Thank you so much for your time.

Iggy Perillo 21:47
Thanks so much for having me. It’s been great chatting with you today, Stacey.

Stacey Cordivano 21:53
Thanks again, so much to Iggy for spending some time chatting with me about leadership and communication and teamwork. I think that when we spoke, I had recently interacted with a few colleagues who were really struggling to enact change in their workplace, even though the idea was out there that they should be able to. And so I think that’s kind of why our conversation deviated from sort of general leadership topics into more of like, workplace interactions, but I think it’s probably a universal issue, or at least a widespread issue. And so I hope it was still helpful for you guys. I just want to remind you that Iggy has a few new things happening right now that might be useful. She has mastermind groups starting in April, so definitely email her at IGGY@WSLleadership.com to find out more about that. You can also check out her mastermind episode where she talks about the benefits of a mastermind group. She’s also hosting a free gathering for heart centered leaders to connect which is called the leadership ecosystem lunch. That’s the second Tuesday of the month at 12 o’clock pacific time I will link the sign up in the show notes and then she is also hosting a leadership skills for everyday life masterclass soon, so if you want to get info on that, go to WSLleadership.com/workshops and again, I’ll link all that stuff in the show notes. So I hope you checked out Iggy and WSL leadership coaching if you want further information. She’s super approachable and I would highly recommend checking in with her if you have any interest. I’d love to know what you thought if you have any other ideas if you have any other resources that you absolutely love. Please share with me and I will share with everyone and as always leave a review, go to thewholeveterinarian.com/subscribe to sign up for our newsletter. Follow me on Instagram @thewholeveterinarian. And thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you again soon.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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I’m Stacey

I want veterinarians to become happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for this life that we’ve created.

I understand the struggles of a stretched-too-thin veterinarian. I have also learned that with some individual work, there is a brighter side to veterinary medicine. Personal and financial development strategies have helped me find a happier place in my life and in my work. I hope to share resources that will resonate with my fellow veterinarian to allow you to become a more whole person.

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