Hello future ODs!
Optometry is a profession that many choose to go into because they believe that they will be able to make a good amount of money. I have to admit that is one of the factors that lead me to consider this field. At the end of the day, optometry is about business. Even if we want to be an optometrist for all of the right reasons (helping people see, serving our communities, etc.) we will have to deal with the fact that we have to make a living and pay off all of the debt encountered from financing our education. I think that it is important to set the stage for your future business practice now, before the pressures of making money in “the real world” are encountered. A huge part of being an optometrist is managing the employees that work for you, even if you have an office manager to help with that. Because of this fact, I think that it is important that we have a good understanding of ethical leadership, so here are some of my personal thoughts about it.
What makes an ethical leader? Here are seven characteristics that I think are essential to ethical leadership.
1. An ethical leader is altruistic. They will give up their time and resources for someone else. As an optometrist that may look like volunteering to do free eye exams for underpriviledged children or going out of the country on a missions trip.
2. Ethical leaders are honest and trustworthy. Patients need to know that they can count on you to be upfront with them about their eye health, and that you will charge them a fair price. Likewise, employees need to know that you will pay them a fair wage and treat them fairly.
3. Ethical leaders care about people and their community. If patients know that you care about them, they will return to your office. If they feel like they are just another glasses prescription, they are less likely to come back.
4. Ethical leaders model ethical behavior and hold their employees accountable for doing the same. If one of your employees is acting shady, you might have to confront them. At the same time, you must make sure that you are acting with integrity at all times to set an example for them to follow. As an ethical leader you must hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard.
5. Encouragement and inspiration are extremely important for ethical leadership. As an employer you must always encourage employees when they are doing a good job. When someone works very hard and receives no recognition, they get burnt out. Words of encouragement and inspiration are probably the easiest thing to give your employees and will help motivate them to continue doing a great job.
6. As an ethical leader you must be self-aware, transparent, and conscientious. It is important that as an optometrist you realize that you are a leader. Even if you work in a chain store where there is an office manager, you will have technicians and assistants that look up to you. You will need to be able to look at your own actions and see how they influence those around you. Leadership comes with this position, and it is important to be able to evaluate what kind of a leader you are. You should always be looking for ways that you can improve your own leadership.
7. Ethical leaders have other leaders that they look up to. It is easy to become proud and feel like you have everything figured out when you are the boss, but it is important that you always have people to look up to. There should be people in your life that are encouraging you and inspiring you to be an even better leader so that this will trickle down to those looking up to you.
Although optometrists make good money, it is important that we remember that this position is about helping others and serving our community. I think that a lot of people who become doctors, optometrists, etc., feel entitled to make a lot of money without giving back because they have worked very hard to get to where they are. While I understand that these positions require an expensive education that must be paid for, I think that we are required to be generous with our income, time, and abilities. As an optometrist you will have skills that are valuable and can help many people. As an ethical leader in your position I think it is important to be self-sacrificing. It isn’t always about how much money there is to be made in a profession. It is about being the best that we can be and helping others do the same.
I hope that this has inspired some of you and shown you a different perspective on optometry!