8.19.11 Issue #493 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Where Do You Rank Among CEOs?
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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A few months back, Barron's released its list of 30 Best CEOs. Naturally, such notables as Apple's Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Warren Buffett made the list. Each of these men has led their companies to success in the extreme. Each has been in their respective business for many years, and each is well beyond the early years of their careers.

I often talk about dentists being the CEOs of their own businesses and the many challenges and responsibilities that accompany that role. For the distinguished gentlemen listed above, they had years to cultivate their skills. After all, for those in the business world, becoming a great CEO is a process of growth and development that takes years to gather the knowledge, skill and experience for. They trudge through their failures and build on their successes to chisel out "greatness" over time.

Dentists on the other hand don't have the luxury of working behind the scenes and fine-tuning their CEO skills over a decade or two. Many are thrown into the role within a few short years of graduating from dental school, and some step into the position immediately with a start-up practice. For those that take the associate route, they are likely learning "CEO" skills from someone who never had any real training in practice management or human resources management and is passing on their personal experiences - for better or worse - from the school of hard knocks.

What does it take for a dentist to become an effective CEO? It is a combination of both tangible and intangible skills, but perhaps the most important is accepting the responsibility of your role as CEO. The old "I just want to do the dentistry" attitude will get you little more than a whole lot of frustration. Once you accept your critical role as the "big boss" a few character traits must be either already present or cultivated, starting with vision.

It is a word that is overused and has been trivialized over time, but the truth remains that the ability to articulate where you see the future of the practice is critical. Otherwise, why should your team care? They are merely going through the daily motions, rather than working toward clear and specific objectives.

Passion - If you do not love what you do, I guarantee that your team and your patients know. Passion is a huge motivator. It is the spark that creates the fire to set and accomplish goals. Seeing your passion for what you do convinces patients to pursue treatment. It excites and encourages your team to achieve the goals that might not have been possible without it.

Openness - Most dental practices are small operations. You work closely with one another and there is no room for backbiting, hidden agendas and the like. It's essential that the CEO of the practice set the tone. Praise openly, establish expectations clearly, and constructively redirect when necessary. Successful businesses are successful because employees understand the vision, are motivated by the passion, and know what is expected.

There are many more, but I believe those three are the foundation for excellence in the practice. However, they will only get you so far. For the truly successful CEOs, it comes down to practical skills and attention to key systems. In the McKenzie Management training program for the dentist/CEO, we commonly work with doctors who simply have no idea what they need to be focusing on in terms of the business side of the practice.

The most tragic situations are with those doctors who wait years to make the call for help. Oftentimes they say that they just wanted to give things time to resolve on their own, which they never do. Virtually without exception, the situations don't get better, they get worse. Why? Because if you continue to do the same thing, the same way, you will continue to get the same result. Production will continue to limp along. Treatment acceptance will continue to be unpredictable. Staff turnover will continue to stymie real progress, and the list goes on.

Next week, the dentist/CEO's #1 concern.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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