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Are you the right leader for your staff?

Aug. 12, 2022
There are many types of bosses, and being the right type for is what motivates them and keeps them happy.

Your staff is key to your success, from the person who answers the phone to the clinical team. And of course, it’s important how you interact with them. Just what kind of boss are you? 

There are many types of bosses, and it’s important to know what type you are. When you figure out who you are, you will know the best way to interact with your staff.

Types of bosses

Visionary: Someone who sees the future and where they want the office to go

Coach: Someone who brings people together and creates a vision to win

Democratic: Someone who wants everyone to have a voice in creating a common goal

Commander: Someone who leads by authority and pressure

Pacesetter: Someone who brings energy and leads by example 

I believe dentists are not one type of leader. There are days that all types of leaders are needed. Everyone must understand the vision of the practice, and that’s where your mission statement comes in. We all need a coach to keep us in line and create a winning environment. It’s important to listen to the staff and being democratic is fine as long as everyone understands the long-term goals of the coach. Some days you need to give orders because there is a crisis or some difficult decisions and you need to be a commander. No matter how you feel when you arrive at the office, you are the pacesetter, and you must have the energy to make things happen.  

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What motivates people 

You need to know yourself and what kind of boss you are, but there is another component: how do you gain staff buy-in? How do you motivate them? We all know yelling does not work and neither does fear. I think people positively respond to five things: greed, guilt, love, fear, and pride. We must understand how these things motivate. 

We need to pay our staff an honest wage. We need to understand that making money can be greed, but not in a negative way. If we ask our staff to perform at a high level, we need to satisfy their greed to earn money. Money is a motivator, so some greed is OK. 

How does guilt fit into the equation? Doing a good job helps the team, and when someone does not help or  do a consistent job for the team, guilt comes into play. Someone may say, “I feel bad about not doing a good job.” When someone does not feel guilty for their mistake or for not doing a good job, it’s time for them to find another job. 

When someone really cares about their job and team, they display a love of the job. Love means that you want to do a great job for everyone and not just for yourself. To fail is not an option for a great team player.  The reason is based on the fear of letting down your team and yourself. Trying to be your best can be motivated by fear of failure. How things are done and how people look at you allows you to have pride in what you do. 

Are you a good boss?

How does all this fit together? Understanding what kind of boss you are allows you to understand how to motivate your most important asset—your staff. Can a visionary motivate by using fear or do they need to use love and pride to guide the team toward buy-in? How does the coach show the team that guilt will be a motivator because the team did not act together or help each other in difficult times?

Bringing everyone together and allowing everyone a voice can lead to harmony in the office. A democratic environment works when everyone is on the same page because the staff has great pride and love for everyone involved. 

When someone acts as a commander, they usually feel their way is the right way, and they’re often rewarded for their beliefs. There are times when the leader must act as a commander because of a difficult situation that requires immediate action. If the team understands that the boss must occasionally be a commander, they will respond because they know it’s not personal. They do not want to let the team down because they love their team and leader. 

How much energy do you bring to the office? Are you the pacesetter or are you down in the dumps too often? Are you the drag on the office because you’re out of shape, abusing yourself with bad habits or a negative attitude? If this is the case, you should find some professional help.   

Great leaders understand their shortcomings and work to improve them. I know you can do this because you have your mission statement, and you have your goal of building the practice that you want.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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