Leadership or Dictatorship in Dental Practice

Every business needs a clear vision that is motivating and inspiring to the business owner and the team. Your dental office is no exception. A vision helps you know what is important, what your goals are and where to focus your energy.

We can also apply this to life – a vision is about where we see ourselves, what we see ourselves doing, and the type of person we want to be.

In your dental practice a vision allows you to lead based on the bigger picture and the direction you have set. It’s about establishing the agenda, instilling values and being the role model for your business and team.

Without leadership and something to work together towards (a vision) morale slumps and distractions take hold, the business becomes aimless. It’s like wandering through life and letting life happen to you rather than taking charge and saying this is what I want.

Leadership Styles

Leadership needs to focus on getting the job done but at the same time caring for and growing your employees and yourself. It’s a fine balance.

Leaders often think they need to be intimidating to command respect, they often demand respect and there is an atmosphere of fear and trepidation. They want the job done and often forget about the welfare of the people doing the job.

Staff might put up with all this for a while but ultimately they will leave.

I used to be this type of leader – it’s what I thought being a good leader was – well I was wrong… IT just created a terrible culture and nobody including me was happy.

The opposite style of leadership to the job done type is someone who tends to lose sight of the fact that work has to be done because he or she is overly concerned with the member of staff. This person desperately needs to be liked and doesn’t want to upset the apple cart, even if that results in a second rate piece of work. They are your proverbial doormat.

Then there is the ‘leader’ who doesn’t much care about anything, little gets done and people just go through the motions, all of which has an extremely damaging effect on the business.

The ideal leader is one who can balance the need for getting the job done with understanding the needs of staff members and clearly demonstrating concern for their welfare. Such people still gain respect, but this is mutual and is likely to result in staff that are loyal, hard working, proactive and enthusiastic.

Leadership is about learning and adapting to what is required.

I’m very task orientated and some times loose sight of the fact that there are people involved in getting those tasks done.

I made it my goal a few years ago to make sure I regularly check in with my team during the day to ask how they are going and if there is anything they need. This allows my team to feel cared for and I get feedback on where they are at and how I can be of support. And it makes for a much happier and more productive dental office.

Are You A Leader or Dictator Dentist

A good leader will inspire confidence among staff that the business is in safe hands, that the person in charge will take care of things in the right way at the right time.

A good leader demonstrates concern while at the same time showing that he/she means business.

All too often, principal dentists are fearful of interfering with staff members work or role for fear of upsetting them and rocking the boat. This leads to people doing what they want to do in their own way which may be poles apart from the vision the dentist has for their practice.

In this situation either the principal dentist avoids discussions with the team, or it ends up in confrontation rather than dialogue.

The leader needs to make it clear as to what the expectations are and how things will be done. The result is a business culture that can be summed up as ‘the way we do things’ and which is consistent with the owner’s philosophy, vision and values.

To exhibit good leadership you must first understand what drives you, your vision and the nature of your own values. Holding a strong set of core values tends to be what makes most businesses successful and stay around the longest.

Leadership Through Values Not Dictatorship

If your only value is making money, then this is not going to be enough to acquire and then retain the best people and to sustain success over the long term.

The primary role of the leader is ensuring that the values are upheld by everyone in the company, at every level, effectively therefore becoming the company’s lifeblood. Profits are seen as a natural consequence of adhering to the core values.

Establish your core business values and stick to them or your reputation will suffer.

Once you have thought carefully about, and established, your own values then you have a basis for explaining to other people what you expect from them.

Strange as it may sound though, you may not be entirely sure just what your values are. They aren’t something that we often verbalise or write down. This is probably as good a time as any then to start thinking about them and to try to understand what really matters to you.

Help Your Team Align To and Demonstrate The Values

Most dental practices don’t have the luxury of starting from scratch when choosing staff members, and it may well be that some existing employees just do not ‘fit’ with your values and the practice philosophy. Under these circumstances the tough decision has to be made to let such people go and to take on people who are more closely aligned to practice values.

Clearly this is not a decision that can be taken lightly and, while due consideration must be given to the various legal implications of such an action, it nevertheless remains a fundamental principle that a dental practice cannot achieve true success unless staff operate as a unified, motivated and values aligned team.

For that to happen everyone must sing from the same sheet of music, which means that they must, in essence, share the same basic values. Good leaders establish those values from the outset and then continually reinforce them.

A leader is much more than a figurehead. A leader is the person who makes the big decisions about where the business is going; the person who decides on the big issues, the issues that will make things happen that are different from the things that are happening now.

As the leader of your team, dental practice and yourself its crucial you establish your vision and values and then make all your decisions around them.