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1.16.09 Issue #358 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Smart Leadership in Turbulent Times

Like many business leaders, you’re probably feeling the pinch of a tough
economy. The nation’s unemployment rate is over 6% and expected to climb
higher in the months ahead. Cost of living is at a record high level.  Perhaps
patients are postponing treatment or downgrading to cheaper alternatives.

You say you’ve tried to get ahead but you’re just too overwhelmed with responsibilities to invest in your practice?  Look, the only way to improve your practice is to get into ACTION, especially in these turbulent times. The truth is, you’re probably too caught up with daily tasks to ever invest in the long term. However, the practices that survive will be those whose leaders work smart not just hard. That means developing yourself now. How? Through training and coaching for greater effective leadership.

I can imagine what some readers might be thinking:

  • Leaders are born. You either have it or you don’t. (wrong!)
  • I went to a leadership workshop and I didn’t see results. (what did you do and for how long did you stick with it?)
  • I don’t have time. (it doesn’t take a lot of time)
  • It’s too expensive. (not true)
  • I already am a good leader. (might be true and you can always improve)

OK. So you’re technically competent as a dentist. You’ve got the drive to make it through an arduous educational program. You’ve established yourself in a practice. Most people would say you’re a success. However, while you know the technical components of your job extremely well, you still can grow as a leader and build relationships so your employees willingly follow.

Interestingly, for the first time ever, Harvard Business Review has conducted its own research into some aspect of business, in this case coaching.  They surveyed 140 leading coaches, and all agreed that coaching has evolved. Ten years ago, coaching was used to help fix “toxic” behavior.

However, today most coaching (48%) is about developing the capabilities of “high-potential performers”. And 26% of those who engage in coaching do so because they want “an objective sounding board”. Today only 12% of coaching is used to address leadership problems. With this shift, coaching is no longer a stigma’ but something of a ‘badge of honor’. I have seen this change occur over my 15 years with the Center for Creative Leadership. Like the HBR survey, CCL’s research shows that the executives who get the most out of coaching have a openness and willingness to learn and grow.

In addition to keeping yourself motivated during the downturn, it’s essential to keep your team motivated. Employees view their work in your practice through the relationship they have with you. If they are dissatisfied with you, they aren’t going to work as hard, and they’re more likely to jump ship as soon as another opportunity becomes available. Remember, unhappy employees don’t leave companies....they leave bosses!

Knowing this fact puts you in a great position. You have control over the kind of relationship you develop with your employees. One of the biggest benefits of coaching is that you can get an objective measure of how your employees see you now. And one of the most important goals of coaching is to bridge the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be.

Despite the bad economy, successful leaders still think it's essential to hold the line on developing their skills. Leaders use coaching to help them understand how to act in a demanding and volatile business world. So can you.

The choice is yours. You can make a panicked attempt to squeeze more out of your already anxious employees who will beat a path out your door when things improve. Or, you can focus on the long term and invest in leadership skills, relationships with your team, effective reward systems and motivating work environments. The long view leads to big payoffs, not only as the dental industry struggles during economic and market turmoil, but even more when the economy picks up. Strive to thrive and set yourself up for significant competitive advantage.

Be smart during this economic downturn. Contact Dr. Haller at

She’ll review your strengths with you and develop an action plan to “turn up the volume” on your leadership.

Need help setting goals to take your practice to the next level? Contact Dr. Haller at

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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