If we are honest with ourselves, each of us has had a mentor (or many) that never knew that you tried to emulate them: People in your life that taught by doing. Modeling the things that made them great leaders, teachers, and examples for you to follow. There is a lost art in leadership, far more important than the words you utter. Every minute of every day, you are on display for others to follow. It is up to you as to what you teach them. You cannot, not lead. I would hazard a guess that most staffs learn more from your actions rather than from your spoken words. You could say that customer care is job number one, yet if they catch you not modeling what you preach, it will fall on deaf ears. We have all heard, “practice what you preach”. This is silent leadership that reverberates into every nook and cranny of your culture. It is silently building it up or tearing it down.
I have had dozens of calls from doctors during this pandemic telling me how disappointed they were in how their own teams failed to rise to the occasion. Many team members stayed home and basked in their government $600 a week vacation. Others made up excuses why they couldn’t work or would delay any return. Bottom line: When the going gets tough, your culture or lack of it becomes apparent. You need to ask yourself when others disappoint you in their words and deeds, what part did you play in this? Is it their fault or does it fall on your side when your team does not step up? Has my team decided that my actions in the past have been louder than my words? Is there an integrity breakdown in the office starting with my performance and accountability shortfall?
Most offices suffer from a rhetoric/reality gap. This is where “what you say falls far short of what you do”. Leaders are only as good as those who follow them. In the Super General Dental Practice (www.supergeneralpractice.com for your free copy), I describe this type of practice as Purpose Driven, Doctor Led, and Staff Owned. This formula only works when each of the three driving forces of unlimited practices is at equal strength. You can’t have one without all three. You can’t have a Super General Dental Practice without every one of them. Each of you stands on the precipice of a catastrophic downturn or an unprecedented opportunity to take your practice to another level of success. Key to this will be the component of silent leadership. You need to step up your game, reengage in your practice, and embrace change during this Great COVID Reset.
It’s back to basics while putting on that “whatever it takes” mentality we had when we first started our practice. The first step is to be the person everyone wants to emulate. Do what you want others to do. Hold yourself to a higher standard of clinical and leadership excellence. Deal with the challenges. Eliminate mediocre staff and fine-tune your systems. Secondly, partner with your team and share the power, ownership, and decision-making. Your vision should be transformational leadership that breeds commitment from your team, and not just compliance. Cast a vision of the future that includes their efforts as key and essential. You will go no further than the one person on your team with the lowest commitment to that vision. Make sure you are not that person.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to describe a strategy for expansion, growth, and profitability that may not appear again for decades. It last happened in 2009. While we delve into this strategy, use the data and benchmarks as a report card for your current practice and adjust where you fall short. Strive to do better. Create the practice you always thought you would have. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. Changes in the marketplace are, doubtless, affecting your business. Do you have plans to evolve into what you need to be, or are you hunkered down in denial? Have you adapted to what is? Or are you trying to turn back the clock, to the way it ought to be, or used to be, or the way you’d like it to be? Roy H. Williams