Your leverage to influence

July 1, 2004
In a growing and prospering practice, the doctor, team, and patients are all experiencing expanded vision and are making significant decisions to act.

Edwin A. McDonald, DDS

In a growing and prospering practice, the doctor, team, and patients are all experiencing expanded vision and are making significant decisions to act.

Q: What fuels their power, purpose, and performance?

A: The influence of high-trust, mutually rewarding relationships.

Every exceptional practice is founded on superb clinical outcomes in the service of its patients. The influence we gain through building high-trust, mutually rewarding relationships fuels the performance of our practice and allows us to utilize the excellent clinical skills we have worked so hard to develop.

Picture, if you will, Fred Couples' golf swing, arguably the most effortless swing in all of golf. He isn't that big. He isn't that strong. Yet, he hits the ball a long way with great accuracy. How does he do that? Simply, he has all the right levers, working at the right time, to maximize his impact on the golf ball. Isn't that what you and I want — to effortlessly use the leverage of our lives to produce outstanding results for the people we serve?

Great relationships don't just come out of a box. You have to build them. In the next five articles, I'm going to share with you creative, contemporary, and classic ideas for building great relationships. And, I'm going to include specific tools you can work with to help others see, discover, and decide to pursue those things that are in their best interest (and yours). You can start today with creating within yourself a real awareness of your practice relationships.

The first order of business is to examine your relationship with yourself. Self-limiting thoughts are one of the most common barriers to success. A personal experience of significance and competence are the opposite. In every aspect of our lives, there is a direct relationship between our self-image and our performance. It allows us to take positions of strength and to maintain those positions in the midst of pressure to do otherwise. The only relationship more powerful than the one we have with ourselves is the one we have with our creator. And that relationship keeps many of us continually examining ourselves and working at the business of performing better with power and purpose, even in difficult circumstances.

The second order of business is to reflect on the trust between you and your team. Any team, large or small, represents multiple people acting on your behalf at the same time. In other words, it is one of your primary points of leverage. Your team can be a powerful force in accomplishing your mission and purpose if they passionately speak with one voice, think with one mind, and feel with one heart. You can't practice at your maximum possibilities without that. What can you do to create a consistent culture of messages, expectations, and behaviors? What can you do to raise the trust of the individuals who work with you? These questions and their answers are worthy of your time and attention.

The third point of reflection should be on the relationships you have with your individual patients. If the quality of the relationships were optimal, what would be possible for you and your practice? I believe a lot more would be possible — higher satisfaction, greater patient retention, and expanded treatment plans with more optimal outcomes. The development of the relationship between you and your patient potentially represents the greatest point of leverage you have.

The fourth relationship to ponder is the one you have with your interdisciplinary team of specialists and technicians. They are an extension of you and you of them. Your collaborative efforts, including the specialized training, expertise, and technology that a superb team brings to a patient, are unequaled in creating a synergy that gives patients confidence to accept optimal treatment. Your reputation can be dramatically enhanced through this relationship.

Now, imagine how all these relationships build upon one another into one powerful force that results in exceptional practice! Next month, I'll start relating some real-life stories.

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald graduated from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston in 1980. He has been in private practice in Texas since 1983. Dr. McDonald serves on the Board of Directors and is a Visiting Faculty member of The Pankey Institute. He is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Texas Academy of Dental Practice Administration, where he served as president. He lectures and presents to study groups throughout the United States. He can be reached at [email protected].

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