Of all the principles of building a great business, leadership is number one. I seem to run into a lot of doctors who would say that they are pretty good leaders. The problem is that when I look at their results and numbers, I don’t see that they are very effective. If you think you are a leader you must have followers. Can’t have one without the other. If you just have a group of people who work together, rather than a team, you are not a leader. If you find that you constantly micro-manage you are not a leader. If there is no leader in the office, where will you end up? Not where you wanted to go. I would like to give you a series of articles that are short but profound in their truth and ability to drastically reshape your results.
Number 1: Whatever you allow, you encourage. This 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 this business.
Ever wondered why your staff don’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. People can’t listen to what you say because your actions speak so much louder than your words. 89% of people are visual learners and if you are struggling in your business, you are modeling the wrong behavior.
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 get back to clients quickly, what have you just done? You have just shown your team that customer service really isn’t 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 staff just referred, what have you just done? You have just shown that communication, and your staff, really aren’t that important 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 our small businesses is rooted in our people and our leadership.
The behaviors you don’t want to permeate your organization need to be addressed and eliminated from your culture. If you want to win in dentistry, you need good communication, a culture of accountability, and good leadership. Let me make a suggestion to you: Go buy John C. Maxwell’s book “The 21 Irretutable 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. You 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 US to get where they are today. They are entire practices composed of owners who lead themselves.
We all would be well served to pay very close attention to our actions more so than 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 to find success in 2020 and beyond, I think you need to focus on leadership in three specific areas:
- Production: We must 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 just 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?
- 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 to offer 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.
- 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 25% raise because you lowered your overhead below 60%? Communicate the goal, hold people accountable to the goal, 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 tolerating in your office? It’s time to communicate the goals, hold people accountable to those goals, and lead the way. Take it from Captain Obvious, that’s what leadership is all about and this is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
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