Leadership – How Do You Score?
While traveling in the Midwest this summer, I had the opportunity to visit one-on-one with several dentists at all stages of their careers. One of those conversations was with Dr. “Jacob.” He had called me a few times to talk about some of the McKenzie products and services, but was unsure of what would be best for his practice. When I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Jacob, it was immediately clear that he was frustrated and confused.
He explained that he purchased his practice about five years ago in a very nice complex that has various medical and dental services and serves an upper-middle class to higher-end demographic area. His office is modern. The equipment appears to be state-of-the art. The area is stable and is enjoying growth. From all external indicators, he’s well positioned to be very profitable. So, what’s the problem? According to Dr. Jacob, “the competition is killing him.” The other general dentist in the complex is doing extremely well, but Dr. Jacob is struggling.
I asked him several questions and listened carefully as he answered. It became clear very quickly that he didn’t like the direction of the questions, and he really just wanted me to tell him how to fix “the problem.”
Unfortunately, “the problem” is that Dr. Jacob struggles with leadership. He takes continuing education courses maybe once a year, when he can “afford” it. He relies on his business employee to provide him with necessary management reports because he doesn’t know how to navigate the practice management software. He has trouble keeping staff in general, and particularly business staff. He’s says he just hasn’t found the “right” employees. And he laments only half-jokingly that those he has “aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.”
Dr. Jacob also isn’t sure that the demographics of the area are “accurate.” It seems that his patients aren’t as willing to buy his treatment as he believes they should be. Yet, he dismisses the fact that the office hours are restrictive, employee turnover is regular, he rarely if ever meets with his staff, and he readily admits that he can come across as a little rough. But that’s “just the way I am, like it or not.” And evidently the patients don’t like it, and neither do the employees.
Dr. Jacob is looking for the easy solution, the one product, service, or idea that will “fix” all that ails his practice. What Dr. Jacob needs is to take a good long look at the man in the mirror.
Dental practice leaders are made. They are not born. They may be born to be excellent clinicians, but leadership is something that does not come naturally to most dentists. Yet invariably, it is leadership that distinguishes the thriving practice from the struggling one.
Do you have what it takes to be a great CEO/leader of your practice? How many of these questions can you answer with an unqualified “yes”?
1. I am always learning and taking CE multiple times a year on a variety topics, including clinical and business subjects.
2. I have team meetings regularly – daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Each has a specific focus based on when the meeting is held.
3. I have utmost respect for my team members and they respect me.
4. My employees function as a team; they understand their individual roles and responsibilities. They work effectively together and support each other to get the job done.
5. My employees are engaged in the success of the practice.
6. My team is encouraged to always look for opportunities to improve the practice.
7. We are genuinely committed to excellent patient service. The patients’ needs and expectations are central to our decision-making process.
8. I always share credit for our success with my team.
9. I look at the key performance indicators in my practice at least once a month.
10. I can navigate the practice software easily and readily access the business reports to monitor key systems.
If you answered “yes” to fewer than 8 questions, it’s likely that your practice is not achieving its full potential, and you probably face a number of frustrations as the CEO of your business.
Ultimately, you alone must be accountable for the effectiveness of your leadership. If you believe that your team, your practice and your patients are always falling short of your expectations, take a long look in the mirror. Then commit to make a change.
Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
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