How to become the leader your practice needs

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Like it or not, you are the practice CEO. You’re the one team members turn to for guidance, and it’s up to you to manage the business side of the practice. You are the leader, and if you don’t embrace that role, your practice will suffer—no matter how skilled you are clinically.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t come naturally for most dentists. They’d much rather focus on treating patients, so they avoid this part of practice ownership as much as possible. But if you want your practice to thrive, you really have to become comfortable with your leadership role. Training, such as McKenzie Management’s course for dental CEOs, can help you develop your leadership skills, but there are also steps you can start taking now. Here’s how to become the CEO your practice needs:

Develop a clear practice vision. This is vital to your long-term success. Without a vision, everyone on the team (including you) will feel lost. To reach your goals, you need to be able to articulate where you see your practice in the future.

If you’ve never created a vision for your practice, I suggest you sit down with team members and get to work. Why involve the team? They may bring ideas you haven’t thought of yet, and including them in the process will show you value their opinion. They’ll be more likely to take ownership of any goals you set and will be more motivated to excel in their roles. The result? Their productivity will increase as will practice revenues.

Provide team members with the guidance they need to excel. As nice as it would be, team members aren’t mind readers. They really need direction from you, which should come in the form of detailed job descriptions, training and continual feedback. If they’re left to figure it all out on their own, you’ll be surrounded by frustrated, unhappy team members who feel lost—and who aren’t nearly as productive as they could be.

Job descriptions should outline performance measurements and make your expectations clear, while proper training will ensure team members can confidently perform their duties. They won’t have to guess what you want from them, or try to learn everything on the job. And if you provide team members with continual feedback (both positive and constructive), they’ll know what their strengths are and what areas might need some improvement. You’ll find team members are much more efficient, not to mention happier to come to work each day.

Stay passionate about what you do. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget what you love about dentistry—especially when your practice is struggling. Long, stressful days can leave you feeling frustrated and down, rather than excited to be part of such a great profession. Team members and patients will notice this change, and that could hurt your patient retention numbers and prompt employees to start looking for another job.

Successful leaders love what they do, so it’s important to find ways to remind yourself why you wanted to become a dentist in the first place. One of the best ways to do that is to keep learning. Hone your skills, develop new ones, and offer your patients new services. Invest in the products and technologies that will keep you excited about dentistry and all the different ways you can help patients.

Beyond that, attending CE courses and tradeshows also gives you the opportunity to network with other dentists and to learn about the products that are advancing the profession. You’ll come back to the office with a renewed love for what you do, and with ideas for practice improvements.

Take care of yourself. Burning yourself out won’t do you, your team members or your practice any good, which is why it’s so important to take time for yourself. That might mean exercising, visiting with family and friends or enjoying your favorite hobby. Giving yourself breaks will help you stay focused, and that will make you more efficient when you are in the practice.

Listen to your team members. Yes, you’re the practice CEO but that doesn’t mean you have to make all the decisions on your own. Let team members know you value their input, and want them to come to you with any ideas or concerns they have. Create a safe environment where team members know their voices will be heard.

Of course, for this to benefit the practice you have to do more than just listen. Take action to correct problems team members bring to your attention and implement ideas that could help improve practice efficiencies. Team members will see how valuable they are, which will motivate them to improve their performance and do their part to move the practice forward.

Embracing your role as CEO will do wonders for your practice. Your team members will have the guidance they need to excel, and you’ll start to see improvements in your production numbers and your bottom line. Your team will be stronger and your practice more profitable.

Next Thursday: Lead your practice to improved production Share this Newsletter

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