Perhaps it was never your intention to be a ‘leader’. You went to school to be a dentist. You may not have given much thought to hiring an assistant or a hygienist or someone to do your billing. Before you realized it, you had a staff of people on your payroll…all looking to you for leadership.
You lead your employees every day. They watch you. What you do - and what you don’t do – ultimately has an impact on your bottom line. Therefore, even if you don’t want to lead, it is in your best interest to develop your leadership effectiveness.
I have always had a strong interest in leadership. It started early in life, being the first-born with influence over younger children in my family and neighborhood. Some research suggests that birth-order plays a role in an individual’s propensity for leadership. But even if you weren’t the oldest in your family, you can still learn to be an effective leader. Remember leaders are not just born, they are made.
Much of my gravitation to leadership, however, comes from life experiences. In addition to being a member of the McKenzie Management team, I am an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership, CCL.Founded over 30 years ago, the Center is one of the largest institutions in the world focusing solely on leadership. Their mission is to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide. They conduct leadership training programs then parlay that income into leadership research.
Over the past 13 years, I have had the privilege to meet and work with many leaders who attended CCL programs, from the CEO of a billion dollar global corporation, to military flag officers, to Fortune 500 managers and executives in a variety of industries. Although the arenas in which they work are different from those of a dental leader, your challenges are remarkably similar to theirs.
- Learning is leading. Executives who remain successful and effective over time are those who continue to learn from their experiences. They use that learning to develop a wider range of skills and perspectives so that they can adapt as change occurs and be effective in an expanded range of situations. But learning does not happen automatically; everyone learns to differing degrees and in different ways. You can improve your leadership capacity by improving your ability to learn.
- The most critical factors for success as a leader are: building relationships, managing change, leading employees, decisiveness, and resourcefulness
- "Confronting problem employees" was rated as one of the biggest weaknesses of Fortune 500 executives, followed by "career management" and "balance between personal life and work".
- When CCL asked executives and managers where they get the most influential and effective developmental training, the answer is commonly "on the job."
In essence, CCL’s research has shown that developing leadership is an ongoing process. It’s never complete. That’s because learning and change happen slowly and over the course of a career. People learn from challenging situations because their abilities are stretched and they have to perform at higher levels.
Since CCL's founding in 1970, a simple principle has been at the heart of their work: transforming ideas into action. They know that leadership isn't just about theory. It's about what works now and how you can prepare for what's down the road.
Now, McKenzie Management is proud to offer a series of CCL’s Ideas Into Action Guidebooks. We hand-selected topics that have the most relevance to dentistry. The Guidebooks are quick to read yet packed with practical suggestions to improve your skills as a leader. If you are a leader by default, step up to the plate and start taking an active role in developing your skills. It will pay off in the end!
Dr. Haller is available for dental leadership coaching and development. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if you would benefit from one of our leadership programs.
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