What is Leadership Coaching?
“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves" - Eleanor Roosevelt
Leadership coaches are trained and discouraged from giving advice, direction, or suggestions to those receiving coaching. Why? Coaches rarely fully know and appreciate the context of the leader's world and its demands, nor do coaches know the technical content of a leader's job and its stresses.
So why hire a coach? When coaching is done well, the leader is led, not told, to understand his or her motivations and choose a new or modified behavior to strengthen their leadership impact. To facilitate this, coaches are encouraged to ask dynamic and bold questions to aid self-discovery that promotes change in the leader's performance and interpersonal style. Self-awareness is a critical factor when leading others. Over time, the leader begins to understand him/herself and the impact their personality and communication style has on others. Through coaching, the leader explores and addresses blind spots and biases that lead to increased self-awareness. It is through this increased awareness and self-adjustment that leaders create an environment to foster self-discovery and self-confidence.
Most major companies now make coaching a core part of their executive development programs. The belief is that working with a neutral third party allows for a safe place to explore and transform one's leadership style. In a recent issue of The Journal of Positive Psychology, rigorous scientific research shows that coaching consistently helps to improve work performance and skills, clients’ well-being and coping skills, their work attitudes, and their ability to effectively regulate their behavior and accomplish meaningful goals. The conclusion is a resounding vote of confidence in the effectiveness of coaching.
Unfortunately many doctors will spend enormous amounts of their budget on equipment and office space, yet they believe being the boss is something they can or should “do on their own.” The reality is that managing a practice is complex, more so now than in years past. As business and healthcare move faster and get more competitive, it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes. Add to that equation the challenging dynamics of "front office" vs. "back office” and balancing the boundaries of being friendly without being a friend. It really is lonely at the top!
Frequently dentists find themselves in a leadership role by default. While learning how to extract teeth and administer nitrous oxide you probably didn't give much thought to hiring, firing, handling office disputes or delegating job responsibilities. It’s unlikely that your dental school curriculum included coursework on human behavior or management. You focused on learning clinical skills. That's what a good dentist does. But a successful dentist does more. You have to influence people every day. You need to show and tell your employees what you want them to do, and how. You need to guide your patients so they'll comply with treatment recommendations. The bottom line is that you were trained to do dentistry, yet today you’re called upon to be CEO of your business.
There really are two sides to every job in a dental practice – the technical side and the people side. You need to be competent on both in order to have a successful business. Leadership requires different skills and abilities that most dentists never had the opportunity to learn. Understandably, this is tough. It requires you to let go, delegate, give up power, and teach others to do. I facilitate several different programs to help doctors develop the knowledge that is necessary for effective practice leadership. The outcomes are enhanced confidence and work satisfaction for you, improved morale and productivity for your employees, and greater care and service to your patients. By making small adjustments in your actions, you can achieve major business results.
Coaching is not like school, and it's not like therapy. Coaching is a conversation between partners who work together to achieve challenging goals. You might be wondering if you would benefit from having a coach. Step back and ask yourself what’s not working. Another approach is to determine what you can do to improve your practice, your employees’ morale, and your relationships with the patients you treat. Then honestly assess whether you feel that you can make those changes on your own, or if you need some outside help. If you aren’t able to look at the situation objectively, or if you think that an unbiased point of view might give you a broader perspective, give me a call. The amount of time, money, frustration, and damaged relationships that are saved makes coaching a necessity, not a luxury.
Dr. Brackin is available to coach you and your team to higher levels of performance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Brackin provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact her at email@example.com.Forward this article to a friend
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