Leadership is a vague concept, and it’s not something that is typically taught in dental school. However, as a seasoned basketball coach and strategic business coach for over 30 years, I believe that dentists can benefit from using coaching techniques to improve their leadership skills.
When there is a lack of leadership in a dental practice, team members will leave, which can create a revolving door of constant hiring. Team members leave for various reasons, including unsolved problems, conflict, lack of improvement, different mindsets, or lack of clarity. All of these reasons are related to the leadership in the practice.
As a clinician, you plan and sometimes agonize over certain cases for your patients. However, do you take enough time to plan and prepare for all of the non-clinical things in your practice? If you’re like most other dentists, probably not.
To address this issue, I teach dentists leadership using the coaching model. If you say you have a team, then the leader of the team is called the coach. If you understand how to coach others and what is needed to be successful, all of the non-clinical items are easier to manage.
Here are the four steps needed to create your leadership game plan:
Step 1: Meet with your entire team to create the mission of the practice.
This is also known as the philosophy of your practice, which is something you share with your patients. This philosophy will help to bring your entire team together around the ideals of your practice.
Step 2: List your core values as a team.
Working together with like-minded people establishes a deeper connection and is foundational to a true team. Typically, when I do this with clients, the entire team is surprised by how many core values everyone shares. Creating this as a team allows discussion and discovery of one another to take place. This starts to solidify the team together.
Step 3: Create your vision together.
The way I create visions with my clients is extremely detailed and comprehensive. The vision not only helps with setting priorities, but it also helps by understanding and discussing every process and system in the practice. Clarity of everyone’s role and responsibility is something that I cover when I create the vision of the practice. If you are acting as a true team, you should be able to anticipate the next move of your teammate. It really should be that simple within your practice. The cohesion of the team is created when there is trust between team members that they will be accountable for their role within the practice.
Step 4: Have a team discussion about the culture of your practice.
Your culture affects all of those things that cause you stress from a non-clinical point of view. I define culture from a unique perspective – what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to human behavior. This area of culture is really the secret sauce to making your leadership game plan work.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, meet as a team and draw a line down the middle of your whiteboard or a large piece of paper. One side is titled acceptable behavior, and the other side is unacceptable behavior. Someone is designated as the notetaker when the team starts sharing their ideas. It can be amazing what items are listed on each side of the line. As your team really gets into this exercise, don’t be surprised if past conflict comes to the surface. Words like gossip or keeping promises, accountability, all kinds of things could be mentioned. Be prepared for those great moments since this is how you can tell your team is understanding this exercise in its entirety.
It is alright to ask your team what side of the line certain behaviors belong to. This is a great time for you to get things off of your mind as well.
If you would like more information about how to put your leadership game plan together, visit victorydentalmanagement.com and sign up for the Coach’s Corner newsletter!
Or you can contact me directly at Lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com