As a dentist and leader, we often talk and think about all the things we need to do to motivate others to follow us, to help us with our cause, to get on the same page, to engage in the process. I want to talk about three things I see people not do that dramatically affect their ability to get people to follow them, help them, and even respect them.
1. Asking for help and then not saying thank you or recognizing the efforts put forth. If you want people to follow you, then you have to communicate. Be polite, be grateful, but most of all be responsive. If you ask your team or your clients to help you and they help you and you don’t seem to appreciate it, it’s disrespectful. Good leaders are grateful and let their followers know that.
2. Not communicating well. There isn’t an organization, team, company, or group in the world that can say, “Yep, we have communication figured out; cross that off the to-do list”. Communication is something you focus on and work on 24/7. Sadly, many of us dentists don’t communicate well. If you want to demotivate your people, forget to tell them they need to work this Saturday to get a job finished. Don’t tell them that your best “team leader” is leaving the office to pursue other opportunities. No one likes surprises and poor communication frustrates people, and people frustrated with you will not follow you. Good leaders are good communicators. Your job is not just saying the right things; it is making sure that each and every staff member heard what you thought you said.
3. Not being certain that your words match your actions. Leaders show what’s important to them by what they do, not by what they say. Sure, a good motivational speech is a cool thing, but if your words don’t match what you do, that’s trouble. One of the hardest things about running a dental office or being a leader is that we always have to be “on”. We can’t make mistakes in the words we choose or the actions we show. When we do, we will pay for it and people will stop following us, stop supporting us, and, most importantly, stop believing us. When people don’t believe you, they don’t trust you, and they won’t follow you. Good leaders lead by example. The bottom line is this: People don’t’ leave dental practices because of the practice. They leave because of their leader.
If you think you are a good leader, and when you look over your shoulder and there isn’t anyone there, you just taking a walk, not leading. Take some time to look at how you’re leading and make a commitment to get better, because that’s how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy. DDS