Inspired Dental Leadership
A team is only ever as good as its leader, are you able to inspire them, motivate them and lead them in the direction you want to go. Do you have clear expectations and everyone working for the common good or do you let your team tell you how it should be. Are you team setting the tone for your dental office or are you the strong voice that lifts them to reach their potential and deliver more.
Leadership is not about doing what I say but doing as I do, leading by example and being able to make decisions and take action will inspire your team.
What type of leader are you?
Do you feel frustrated by lack of direction in your dental practice? Do you feel that things are out of control in you practice, are people making decisions without consulting you? Do you feel your team is fragmented or do you ever get frustrated and disappointed by a lack of initiative or when the cats away the mice will play mentality so that when you back is turned your team are doing the bare minimum and only look busy when they know you are around?
Do you find that you are the one chasing up your team and completing tasks they should have done, are you constantly putting out fires in you business and does everyone rely on you for the answer. Are you micromanaging your team or trusting and empowering them to be great people who follow your lead and direction? Are you able to clearly have them understand what it is you want and follow through or do you let them walk all over you because its easier than confronting the issues and you’d rather do anything than have that difficult conversation for the sake of a quiet life.
Do you hide in your room or office between patients and avoid your team or are you checking in on them, giving feedback and support where needed and holding them accountable for their tasks?
Leadership is like being a parent are you raising your team with good values and culture and teaching them how to make good decisions and choices based on those values and what best supports the family – your dental office and your patients.
Just like children are you allowing your team members to play you and manipulate you to have their own way, or are they using you to play one team member off against another. Are they telling you what you want to hear and pulling the wool over your eyes or are the actually doing what it is they are being paid for, being productive and efficient and utilising their time the best they can?
Leadership skills have to be developed
Leadership skills have to be developed and come from you having a strong vision and direction for your dental office. Without leadership and a plan of action it’s very easy to be nudged off course. At first this doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue but if your leadership is constantly being nudged and you are not making the adjustments and corrections needed you will suddenly find yourself and your business going around in circles or in the opposite direction to that which you intended.
It’s like gum disease, at first, it’s just a build-up of a thin layer of plaque, barely noticeable and not really creating too many issues, but left to escalate you have inflammation and spot bleeding which isn’t painful so you try to normalise it. But left to fester for a period of time you start to get destruction of the gum and bone and before long, you have periodontal disease and your teeth are being undermined until they are so unstable they get infected and fall out.
What Happens When There Is No Leader
Allowing your leadership to be compromised or not being a leader in your dental office is a recipe for disaster as you will not be in charge of your investment and will feel held hostage by your team, chaos reigns and you have very little job satisfaction and high levels of stress.
And to be honest the same is true for your team. People want to feel that they are doing more than a j.o.b they want to feel like they have purpose and are making a difference. We all want to see results and feel as if we are winning. Without leadership that inspires and motivates morale will be low and there is no incentive to do than go through the motions. No wonder you and your team lack energy and passion for what you do.
Your leadership skills could be weak and causing low grade irritation to your team and the way your dental office is run, whilst like the plaque and inflammation of gum disease isn’t causing any real pain or obvious problems it is already setting your up for damage and disease. Weak leadership is no different to gum disease if it’s not addressed and persists it will become destructive and undermine your practice. And before you know it your practice can fall apart because of your weak leadership skills.
How Do We Become Leaders?
Yes, I know we are not all born leaders, when we went to dental school it was because we wanted to help people and we didn’t envisage ourself being business people, managers and team leaders. The good thing about leadership is it is something you can learn and develop so as to become a better and more inspirational leader to those around you.
So, what can you do to improve your leadership skills?
Number 1 What is your role as a leader – do you see yourself as the leader in your business or just as a clinician doing dentistry in the hope that things run themselves and the bills get paid in spite of you? Recognise that you have to take on the role as leader in your business it is no longer acceptable to see yourself as just the dentist. You are the CEO and you need to behave like one and step up to the plate.
Number 2 What Type of Leader Are You? The common perception is that a leader has to be tough and aloof or they will not have the respect of their team. I believe this model of leadership is out dated and that leaders who are open, real and vulnerable and share with their team the lie of the land, the challenges that are being faced and asking for support and input from their people are far more effective leaders than those who rule with an iron fist.
Yes you need to be firm and consistent and show that when you want something done you will hold your team accountable and that you will not stand for any nonsense, that this is your business and you have standards, values and expectations that you will not compromise but also you need to be open to feedback and new ideas. Your job is to hold the vision, relay this to your team and create an action plan. Make the decisions and have your team back you to do so. Create goals and steps to reach them and have your team decide what tasks they will do to take the business closer to them. Set deadlines and follow through – ask them how they are going and get them to report to you.
Are you an absent leader, one who just thinks their team are magically getting on with things, that they instinctively know what to do or can read your mind.? Hiding in your office and then getting mad when things are not going how you want is not leadership.
Are you the push over – so that when you suggest changes or new ideas you let your team talk you out of it or don’t follow through so they don’t bother as they know you will have forgotten all about it in a few weeks. Do you avoid confrontation and having the much need tough love conversations that need to happen to lift your team and have them do what is needed?
Are you the lost leader – one with no direction, worn out and down-trodden, burnout and lacking any enthusiasm or motivation for your dental office and your goal is just to make it through the day with as little drama and stress as possible?
Number 3 Be Clear and Decisive – to be a good leader you need to know what is needed and to be able to communicate that effectively. I’d like you to become decisive and a clear confident communicator. Express what you need to happen, document it and follow through.
Number 4 Listen to your team and be supportive to them be inspirational and celebrate your team’s successes even the very smallest ones to show them they are doing well and not only contributing but making a difference.
Number 5 Develop and demonstrate leadership skills – be willing to learn and grow, be passionate about what you do, be a role model to your team – live from a do as I do not a do as I say, you must walk your talk, be positive, take action, be willing to admit and learn from failures and weaknesses (none of us are prefect!) and continue to educate and improve yourself.
I know it can be challenging to keep yourself motivated and positive during the ups and downs of dental practice especially when times are tough and your business may be struggling. But this is 10 times worse when you team is dysfunctional, morale is low and there is chaos in your office due to lack of direction, organisation, systems and little to no accountability or feedback. As leader of your dental office it is for you to set the tone and what is and is not acceptable behaviour or service standards, become the role model for those around you, take back the reigns and step into the leadership role and your team and your dental office will flourish because of it.
How I Became A Dental Leader
I used to let my team ‘run’ my office because all I wanted to do was see my patients and then hide away in my room and this lead to poor results and things not being how I wanted them which made me frustrated and unhappy. My book was jammed full and unproductive, or had gapping holes in the schedule, patients were not being given the level of customer service I expected but never communicated and my team called the shots so that when I wanted to make changes I constantly allowed them to talk me out of it. It was only when I realised I had abdicated my leadership that things turned around, I tool charge and began leading my dental practice vision and what I needed from my team.
Sure there was fall out from this and people left . . . but guess what the right people stayed and supported me to be where I am today. They took on more responsibility and helped me implement my systems, service delivery, time management practices and new ideas. They now manage and run the day to day of the business and report to me with the information and figures that I need which allows me to focus on the bigger picture for my dental office and my patients.
Stretching that under used leadership muscle may lead to some hard work and aches and pains initially but it will reap its rewards. I can help you develop your leadership and business skills to take your dental office where you want it to be, to help you make more money, save time and overcome that feeling of stress and overwhelm. I believe you deserve to have a dental office that is successful and well managed; I want you to enjoy your dentistry and be rewarded for it so that you can have a happy and healthy career and not sacrifice your wellbeing and your relationships to simply keep it afloat.
If you relate to what I have shared or are wanting to take your dental office to the next level I can help you to improve your leadership skills, get your team to pull together, increase productivity and create a dental office that is thriving and not just surviving.
I look forward to connecting with you.