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Leading, Allowing, Encouraging

Whatever you allow, you encourage.”  That is one of my favorite quotes about leadership as it relates to a dental practice.  Let’s take a minute and talk about leadership.  This is what separates winners from losers in our business.

Have you ever wondered why your team doesn’t seem to do what you want and need them to do?  Actually, we’ve all been here at some point.  Leadership is all about influence and inspiration.  It’s showing people by your actions what’s important to be successful at your dental office.

If customer service is supposed to be important at your office, but you complain about a patient in front of your team, or don’t stay on time, or don’t return a patients call promptly, what have you just done?  You have just shown your team that customer service really isn’t all that important at your office.  When you don’t take the time to share good news (and bad) with your team, or you don’t recognize an incredible new patient that one of your team just referred, what have you just done?  You have just demonstrated to them that they really aren’t all that significant in your dental practice.

Too many of us are constantly searching for new, great ideas with which to improve our practices, and attract new patients.  We think new software will save the day, or a new piece of equipment will enable us to make a ton of money.  Yes, they can make a difference and they are important, but success in your small businesses is rooted in two things: Your people and your leadership.

The undesirable behaviors you don’t want to permeate your organization need to be addressed and eliminated quickly from your culture.  If you want to win in dentistry, you need good communication, a culture of accountability and good leadership.  Let memake a suggestion to you:  Go buy John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and read it.

The first law, and my favorite, is the Law of the Lid.  Your leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on your organization.  Your dental team cannot rise beyond your ability to lead.  People often think if they just work hard, they’ll find success.  Yes, you may find a little success, but the rest of the people on your team will not.  The key is to develop others around you to take the lead.  This is what allowed some of the best dental practices in the U.S. to get where they are today.  They are really entire practices composed of leaders.

We all would be well served to pay much closer attention to our actions than to our words.  I firmly believe a leader shows what’s important to them by what they do, more so than by what they say.  If you want 2010 to be a success, I think you need to focus on leadership in three specific areas.

1. Production:  We have to have dental patients and treatment to make a dental practice work.  What are you going to do to get things headed in the right direction?  Are you finally going to be open consumer hours, not Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 to 5?  Are you going to look at the competition and demographics of your area to modify your marketing?  What about bringing in a partner or another hygienist?  Will you do whatever it takes to increase your production?

2. Customer Satisfaction:  How many clients are you going to inspire to increase direct new patient referrals?  What investments are you going to make in order to help your team provide better customer service?  Are you going to be known as the best office in town?  Communicate the goal, hold people accountable to those goals and lead the way.

3. Profitability:  What costs are you going to cut?  Is this the year you implement all of the Summit strategies for overhead control?  Will this be the year that you take home a 15% raise because you lowered your overhead to 55%?  Communicate the goal, hold people accountable to those goals and lead the way.


Leadership is what separates winners from losers.  I told a friend recently that whatever he allows, he encourages.  He responded:  “You deserve what you tolerate.”  I love that.  What are you allowing and encouraging in your office?  In this year, communicate the goal, hold people accountable to those goals and lead the way.  That’s what leadership is all about.