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Leaders: Your support—or lack thereof—can change the trajectory of someone’s career.

Just like my high school Chemistry teacher was an early example to me of poor leadership.

Yesterday I was speaking with someone whose son is looking to go to veterinary school, and I was reminded of my childhood dream to be a veterinarian.

But at the age of 16, I gave up that dream thanks to Chemistry.

I was strong academically, but Chemistry was the one class where I struggled.

I recognize now that, although it was a harder subject for me, I had a supremely crappy teacher.

She didn’t offer support when she saw me struggling. She scoffed when I asked questions, and even rolled her eyes. I could go on to detail her dismissive behaviors. I became so intimidated I was afraid to raise my hand. The stress actually manifested in physical ailments.

She left me feeling like a failure.

In today’s terminology, this was a painful example of a lack of psychological safety.

By the end of that year, I’d given up on being a vet. I didn’t believe I could do it, that I could handle it.

I let the dream go.

I now know that I COULD have handled it. I just would have had to work a little harder. And I would have needed support.

Leaders, the support and care you offer to those on your team can have an impact far greater than you may ever realize.

So what can you do?

  • The impact of psychological safety is real. Make it safe for your team to ask questions, share their concerns and fears, and be themselves.
  • If you see someone struggling, offer help. Don’t assume they can’t do the job–they just might need a bit of assistance, and don’t know how to ask.
  • Recognize the real physical impacts that stress can have on the body, both on you and those on your team.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact you, your leadership, and your support can have on someone’s career.
  • As for me, decades later I explored going to vet school, but I didn’t have the prereqs. It would have taken 3 more years of undergrad and THEN vet school. It wasn’t going to happen.

I love what I do and am grateful for my clients, partners, and those I’ve worked with over the years.

But I would have made an awesome vet.

Hey there, I’m Cynthia. I’m a leadership team whispererexecutive coach, and speaker. I guide leadership teams in high-growth companies to achieve rapid growth in a healthy, sustainable way. I coach senior leaders to discover the path to lead with ease.

Like this post? Want to see more? Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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