Leadership Lessons to Consider
Life informs many abstract guidelines for us to follow as we trudge down our paths, attempting to simplify our journeys for optimal success. Leadership is a bit of an abstract concept, which has many definitions and applications. Generally for dentists, the concept of leadership does not readily resonate with being a dentist. Being a dentist is typically thought of in terms of one’s ability to take care of people by way of their mouths. Leadership is generally thought of in terms of well-known figureheads throughout history, such as presidents, military generals, or CEOs. What about the “front-line” leaders? What about all the people who manage others in small businesses or medical practices? Are they not leaders? Are they not intending to persuade others through positive influence toward a common goal?
1. Diverse teams generate better ideas. You have heard that ‘similarity breeds liking,’ ‘great minds think alike’, ‘birds of a feather…”, etc., but how does feeling good due to innate similarities manifest in star team performance? When it comes to a team functioning together, it does not, necessarily… Creativity necessitates different points of view, and sometimes this results in tension between individuals. Outside-the-box thinking requires fresh perspectives and change-willingness. Keeping at the vanguard of dental care necessitates being abreast of current knowledge and requires constant development as team. Having a well-oiled machine is one thing, but make sure your team is heterogeneous enough to keep the practice a little on the edge. This will provide a unique service to your patients, and will keep you and your team stimulated and engaged.
2. To lead you need to let go. If you are a roll-up-your-sleeves and get the work done kind of dentist, you may be doing all the work! Make sure to surround yourself with competent professionals to whom you can delegate and not have to worry about whether they complete the task or not. Your role should be specialized – something no one else can do – and your staff’s role should be to do everything else. No one appreciates a micromanager, in addition to the fact that micromanaging is not the same as leading. Leading successfully actually allows you to focus on what you do best, which will bring about even better results!
3. Meet resistance head-on. Whether it is internal resistance to accepting your leadership responsibilities or external pressures acting to keep you too busy on other things to worry about what kind of leader you are, you must meet the resistance head-on. When we don’t confront resistance, it remains, and can even become stronger due to the psychological feedback mechanism that says: “If I’m not confronting that obstacle, it must either be because it is too difficult or I am not equipped.” If you are caught in this unhelpful thought process, things only become harder; not easier. If, however, you would like to alter this process, remember: You are the Leader!, and therefore the responsible person to go head-to-head with the difficulty.
4. Without strategy, change is merely substitution, not transformation. There may be things you want to change in your practice, and as the leader, you may be considering them, or are already involved in making those changes. However, make sure you have a solid strategy, which can be plotted 5 and 10 years out. Leaders who have their eye several years ahead are much better able to make decisions about what to do in response to today’s stressors. These leaders also end up seeming much more successful and therefore command a more loyal followership. Be the change you want to see; don’t get lost in the maze of reactivity. Make your practice’s future your professional as well as your personal goal.
Trust yourself. This involves the ability to know your strengths well enough that they allow you to navigate your practice issues successfully. This requires you to know your natural talents, capabilities, and skill-sets, as well as strengths you’ve learned or developed along the way. If you do not have a clear picture of what you bring to the table, as a dentist, as a leader, and as a person, consider professional leadership coaching to assist you in creating or building upon the foundation for launching you into effective leadership.
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.orgForward this article to a friend
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