Before starting this week with another installment by Captain Obvious, if these rules are not resonating with you or they are not obvious, you too may struggle with leadership. Rule number three is: You have to precede your practice to the next level of production. If you want more, you have to do more. The next level of commitment always precedes another level of practice. This new commitment is called “inspired leadership”.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to get struggling doctors off of top dead center sometimes. The facts don’t lie and the path is clear, yet few of these doctors actually see it. For the most part, we have to inspire the staff with very little help from the dentist/leader, and create systems that compensate for the doctor’s lack of commitment and engagement. It is as if we have to create an alternate universe for the staff and practice to compensate for the limiting beliefs, lack of taking action, and mind trash from the doctor. While that can be effective, it will only last as long as these doctors have the pressure of accountability from a mentor or coach. Our hope is that if we can reveal the truth of success long enough, it will become habit for the needed culture to prevail in the practice. With that said, far too often when we leave the practice and slowly over years, it begins a slow death spiral back to the lower levels that were there before we showed up. It is as if the doctor’s limiting beliefs of what he/she thinks they deserve, causes them to self-sabotage all the good work and high-level systems that we helped implement.
So, where do we get this inspired leadership that will sustain change for the good? With change as your mantra and new goals as your guide, make sure that any improvements in your practice begin with you. You need to look into the mirror of results and clearly judge where you are and where you want to go. Some of us find dentistry so smothering that we would rather do anything else but step up and own our performance.
While you are looking in the mirror and seeing the real you, what would your staff say about your performance and leadership abilities? Could you handle the truth? Once you heard the truth, could you do what great leaders do and start the change with yourself? This is a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary step in becoming an effective leader. Notice I did not say great. Great is not what you should seek. Effective is good enough. It’s better than good enough. Just arriving at the point where you know what your own limitations are and acting to hire staff and design systems to compensate for those shortcomings in your ability to lead will create unlimited success. This is where Captain Obvious wants you to go. I am going to suggest a bold step where few have the courage to go. If you will click this link and download our Performance Appraisal Form for Doctor document, you will have taken the first step.
- Run off enough copies or send them digitally to your staff and have them answer the questions anonymously. Make sure that there is no way that you will be able to know who filled out each questionnaire.
- Take a copy for yourself and fill it out before they return their copies. It is important for you to evaluate yourself before others do. Be honest and use your copy to compare to a collated summary from the rest of the staff.
- Have your office manager or a staff member that the others feel is trustworthy tabulate the scores and present them to you.
- Finally, pass out the final tabulation to all the staff at a meeting and openly discuss where you fell short and what you are willing to do, in order to improve the scores.
- I would post the final tabulation in the staff area for all to see and show them that you have a new commitment to action. They need to see you “try” to improve.
NOTE: I highly recommend that you get a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s book: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and read it cover to cover before embarking on this leadership strategy. It is important that you understand what a team is and how a great team should function. Once the dust settles and you have begun to work on your list, have a staff meeting and explain the five dysfunctions of a team to the entire staff. You will be amazed at the inspired attitude of the staff, their desire to improve, and their openness to change. Welcome to a do over button for leadership. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. Once again, and in an effort to stave off procrastination and remove excuses, simply click this link to order your copy of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team from Amazon.