Skip to main content



LeadYourShip with Dr. Michelle Harcha at Chicago Vet

Isabelle Perlman

Michelle Harcha has always been fascinated with professional development. As a veterinarian with 35 years of experience in practice, industry, and academia, she recently served as Director of Professional Development at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Michelle started her own consulting business, LeadYourShip, to give veterinary healthcare professionals the tools they need to become better leaders. The name LeadYourShip came to her, she says, because leadership starts with the self: "In order to be an effective leader, you first have to be an effective leader of yourself."

Less than a year out of veterinary school, Michelle went to work at an emergency veterinary hospital in Cincinnati. She was invited to take on a leadership role without much knowledge on how to lead and ended up learning so much about herself and how to be a leader. Michelle recalls that, at first, she thought the best way to lead was to hire people that were like her, or tried to make people like her. She took a leadership training assessment, and had an aha! moment when she realized that people are different from her, that they'll never be like her, and that there are benefits to having diverse personalities within a practice. This experience led her to want to learn more about professional development for herself so she could teach others. Over time, she began to understand her strengths, her challenges, and how to bring out the best in everyone.

Michelle HarchaMichelle's response to the question, "What does being a leader mean to you?" will change the way you think about the management of yourself and others. She believes that being a leader means accepting the role of leadership and being aware of your impact on those around you.

"Outstanding leaders have a strong self-awareness of their strengths, of their challenges, [and] they love to learn," she says. Michelle is a life-long learner herself, always looking for ways to improve as a person and a leader. She explains that being emotionally intelligent means understanding and managing yourself well first. Emotional intelligence is not lashing out at people, getting angry, or spreading gossip: these are destructive behaviors in the workplace that the leader may do as well. Michelle believes that the leader has the biggest impact on the culture and climate of a practice, so it's absolutely crucial for the leaders to lead themselves well so they can lead others well too.

Whether you're a part of a larger practice or manage your own practice, this lecture is for you. "The reality is we all lead no matter where we are in an organization," Michelle says. Bringing up the age-old question, "Are leaders born, or are they made?," she points out that everyone is born (some things come more naturally to others), and leadership is a set of learnable skills. In this lecture, you'll learn why working 14 hours a day, not taking care of your health, and being tired and in a bad mood is unhealthy for you as a leader. You'll learn evidence-based strategies for developing leadership skills and emotional intelligence skills, as well as evidence-based assessments you can take to improve your leadership abilities.

Michelle is super excited about Chicago Vet. She can't wait to share her passion for leadership and hear other key thought leaders speak on a variety of subjects. She's thrilled about the program, list of speakers, and the opportunity to continue her education and travel to a nice city. Michelle has actually been to Chicago before, and her favorite part is being near the water, which she says is peaceful and calming.

Chicago Vet


Be the leader of your pack

Get a special discount on your conference pass and be the first to hear the latest industry news, program updates, and more.