Strive for excellence, not perfection
As you get ready for work in the morning is your mind relentlessly going over and over your never ending "To Do" list? Do you find that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done the way you would like to have it all done? Do you double or even triple-check your employees’ work?
If so, you need to take a good hard look at whether you’re taking on too much and not delegating to your staff.
You say you can’t trust them? Read on.
Trust is a relational concept. It is a measure of the quality of a relationship between two people. In essence, trust is about how comfortable you are relying on someone.
In dental school your success depended on trusting one person – you. Now you are in a position of leadership and you must trust others if you are going to succeed. In fact, the most difficult challenges you face in your office have little to nothing to do with your technical skills as a dentist. The problems are more likely due to your behaviors. And nothing erodes practice success like micromanagement – the need to control everything that goes on in your office.
It’s good to have a high personal drive to achieve. You wouldn’t have made it this far without ambition. But if you are suspicious of everything your employees do, if you continuously correct them, the message you give is that they are not trustworthy, or valuable. As a result, there will be little to no accountability. Your team will think/say, “Why bother? No matter what I do it isn’t good enough”.
Pushing for continuous improvement, so your team performs at their best, is good. Finding fault and constantly telling employees how they could have/should have done it better is bad. When employees sense that you don’t trust them they develop a self-protective vigilance that inhibits communication and effective performance. Their focus shifts from doing a good job to making sure they don’t upset you. Nothing inhibits peak performance like fear of making mistakes. Ask any athlete.
There’s no such thing as perfect. When you strive for such an unrealistic standard you aren’t aiming for success as much as you are trying to avoid failing. Perfect is unattainable. It also has undesirable side effects that inhibit leadership behaviors, and it will hold you back. Stop operating under the myth that ultimate control is possible. Life is filled with uncertainty and risk. Channel your energy to do well by paying attention to your strengths. Play to win rather than play not to lose. Here are some suggested solutions.
- Do a personal inventory
Be objective. Really look at yourself and leave your ego behind. You might consider keeping a daily reflection log, tracking your actions so you develop more self-awareness. As the dental leader, the more you become self aware, the better you can read the signs of discontentment or unhappiness within your team.
- Strengthen work relationships
If you have difficulty reading the signs of low morale within your team you can try another tactic. If you have employees who are willing to be open with you, solicit feedback about your leadership. However, if your employees have not seen you as approachable, they aren’t likely to be very honest with you. If this is the case, hire a coach who can collect feedback for you anonymously.
- Honor the diversity of your team.
If you are a perfectionist, it’s likely that you are very tough on your team. You see their weaknesses very clearly and overlook their achievements. As a conscious leader, aim to respect the differences by taking pro-active steps to align assignments with employees' strengths.
- Leadership training
One of the most difficult challenges you face is shifting from an individual contributor to an influential leader. You went to school to be a dentist, and it is unusual if you had even one management class. Human behavior is complex. Fortunately the skills to be a more effective leader can be learned. By integrating your existing strengths with new behaviors you will have a positive impact on your team. Leadership training also will help you to develop strategies that lead to heightened levels of trust and openness among team members, improved practice results.
Train yourself to interpret the anxiety of not knowing every detail as a sign of progress towards becoming an empowering leader. Think and act as if outcomes are not life and death affairs. Stop fear and failure statements from your internal self-talk. Learn to lead, not control.
If you want to gain greater trust with your team, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org
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