There are good managers and then there are good leaders. These are two different things. As the owner of a practice, it’s more important for you to focus on being a good leader. You can hire good managers but it’s very difficult for anyone other than the owner to become a good leader.
Don’t think that you have to be “born” a leader—that happens sometimes, but most good leaders are people who have worked hard to earn the respect that a leader must have. Becoming a leader for your dental practice is something that you can do too. Even if you may not feel comfortable with the role, over time working with your staff, it becomes a part of you.
It’s critical to your business. Everyone in your practice ultimately looks to you for guidance. That doesn’t mean you have to come up with all the ideas (in fact, it’s better if you don’t), but it does mean that you have to be behind the ones that will be used to move your practice forward.
Here are some important characteristics of leadership that you can use to help build your leadership skills:
Take ownership of your practice’s performance. You are ultimately responsible to your people (and your bank) for how well your practice does. Be aware of how the actions of everyone in your practice can contribute to its success or failure. Be prepared to handle the consequences of not making changes that point you toward success.
Be accountable. That may be to yourself, to your stockholders, or to your family, but know that you must regularly report to someone and explain your actions. Even if you need to use a friend or professional colleague as a sounding board, accountability helps you stay on track towards better performance.
Never stop learning. Our profession is changing faster than it ever has, so learning about new techniques and products is critical to your success. Look for things that make you uncomfortable and figure out why. This is how you keep yourself—and your practice—fresh.
Accept change. Change is the only thing that never stops. When a practice doesn’t understand how to embrace change and adapt, they stagnate, resulting in patients going elsewhere. Be looking at how your practice will be different in five years, two years, or two weeks, and work on getting better at making adaptations.
Apply new ideas. Many practices stay abreast of new concepts and techniques, but they are still hesitant to apply them. “New” may mean new dental procedures, but “new” can also mean new office equipment, new ways of advertising, or new customer service. Keep investigating what might be better.
Keep at it. Most successful people know that for every success, they have to weather a few failures. Those who take a punch and keep going are the ultimate winners.
Bring others with you. David Ogilvy, the advertising great, said “hire people bigger than you, and you become a company of giants.” Never hesitate to encourage your staff to explore big ideas, and give them credit when they do.
. A positive attitude makes everything easier, and you’re in a business that can be tremendous fun—you’re helping people take care of their health. Never forget to enjoy that privilege.