3 Leadership Lessons for Every Dentist
Upon entering your first “real” dental practice either as an associate or as an owner, it’s likely that one thing became abundantly clear very early on: Along with that DDS degree, you’ve unwittingly earned a full-ride in the school of hard knocks…and oh what a ride it is. With little warning and even less preparation, many dentists are tossed into leadership roles seemingly overnight. It’s a job requirement that can leave newer and even experienced dentists shaking their heads in bewilderment. They quickly discover that teams don’t lead themselves and there’s a lot more to being “in charge” than most would ever imagine. While there are multiple pitfalls that can plague new leaders, below are three to steer clear of in your role as “The Boss.”
#1 - The “No Surprises” Directive
You might be embarrassed in front of a patient or colleague. You might have to dine on your least favorite entree - crow. You are NOT happy and you make it perfectly clear to your team. They are not to let this happen again, but it does - or something else - because stuff happens. Problems arise, best-laid plans unravel, and people make mistakes. And there you are as the leader of your team, exposed, vulnerable and (gasp) imperfect.
You told them you did not like surprises, yet there’s a veritable smorgasbord of unexpected situations, snafus, and problems spread before you. Why? How did this happen? Because you asked for it. Not directly of course, but if you tell your team that you don’t like surprises, don’t want bad news, or simply dismiss them when they need to talk to you about something, you’ll get exactly that - no news, no information, and no notice of that brewing storm on the horizon.
Work is about solving problems and finding solutions. If it were all fun, we would be going to “fun” every day. Instead, we go to work. Open the lines of communication in your dental practice and create a safe environment in which your team members can share concerns, problems, and, yes, bad news at the first hint that something is amiss. Then together you can work to address it long before the problem, situation, or ugly circumstance chews you up and spits your battered pride out onto the pavement in front of your practice.
#2 - Assuming Everyone Understands
Spell out your expectations and the employees’ responsibilities in black and white for every member of your team from the beginning. If you choose not to, they will simply keep performing their responsibilities according to what they think you want. If you honestly just don’t know what you want or how to explain it to your employees, you are not alone. Many dentists regardless of where they are in their careers struggle with this. Get answers. Seek help from a competent practice management consultant. Establishing clear expectations for your team early on will save you years of stress and unnecessary employee failures. And that leads me to the next pitfall…
#3 - Hiring Under Pressure
Next week, can you lead your practice to profitability?
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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