What if Phil Jackson was coaching your dental practice?

July 15, 2015
Although he arguably has the most successful NBA coaching record of all time, Phil Jackson's coaching style didn't prioritize winning.

Although he arguably has the most successful NBA coaching record of all time, Phil Jackson's coaching style didn't prioritize winning. Instead, he focused on developing each member of the team personally and professionally, implementing strategies that capitalized on the strengths of his players. How could Phil Jackson help your practice reach its potential?

Great coaches incorporate transactional and transformational leadership to clarify your practice vision, instill that vision in the team, and develop the protocols needed to realize the vision and achieve your goals. These leadership styles are often positioned as opposites, but both are necessary to advance team members and move your practice forward.

Using interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, transformational leadership can unify and empower a team. Phil Jackson relied on his transformational leadership skills to articulate his vision for the 1989 Chicago Bulls. His vision was to keep the ball constantly moving on the court to increase opportunities for anyone on the team to score, not just star player Michael Jordan. He used transactional leadership to teach and implement the triangle offense, which made it possible for the team to focus on passing the ball. The team began winning more games and eventually dominated the NBA.

Transactional leadership skills (e.g., technical expertise and training) ensure the team is equipped with the practical knowledge they need to thrive in their roles. As part of her coaching, dental consultant Wendy Briggs, RDH, evaluates all aspects of patient care and demonstrates how each operatory should be set up to maximize efficiency and productivity. Transactional coaching can include new protocols, policies, plans, and procedures, all designed to contribute to the practice's ultimate goal.

Motivating a team to embrace these changes and rise to new challenges requires transformational leadership. A coach with expertise in leadership development and group dynamics can help identify personnel issues that often go undetected or unaddressed. By eliminating these hurdles, a transformational leader can clarify your practice philosophy into a mission the team can live and breathe. Each team member should be personally invested in reaching your goals, and with your support, acting as leaders in their own areas of responsibility. Using an outside coach can fill a transformational leadership gap in your practice temporarily while you further develop these skills under the coach's guidance.

If you're considering the impact a coach could have on your practice, evaluate your transactional and transformational needs first. Does your team feel supported by you and one another? Are you familiar with each team member's strengths and weaknesses? Is the team encouraged to find opportunities to grow and develop? This information can help guide your selection of an appropriate coach. To learn more about how your practice might benefit from coaching, visit to schedule a free evaluation with one of our four recommended consultants.

With more than a decade of marketing experience in the health-care industry, Jen McGuire now leads the marketing of Henry Schein Dental's Business Solutions. Jen developed and launched dentistry's first wellness program, Total Health Beyond the Mouth. Contact her at (800) 372-4346 or at [email protected].

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