Dentists can be great leaders

Aug. 1, 2002
Dentists can be great leaders. Since I'm a dentist myself, I understand how difficult it is to be the Chief Executive Officer, main producer, office administrator, and chief financial officer along with a host of other responsibilities.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, FACD

Dentists can be great leaders. Since I'm a dentist myself, I understand how difficult it is to be the Chief Executive Officer, main producer, office administrator, and chief financial officer along with a host of other responsibilities. On top of everything else is the real need to be a great leader who can inspire, excite, motivate, and drive your team forward. Is there any way a busy dentist can truly accomplish this goal? Absolutely.

Becoming a great leader

Great leaders understand that they need a system. They need a leadership system just like a scheduling system, hygiene system, case presentation system, or patient financial management system. The pressure of producing revenue for the practice severely limits a practitioner's time. Systems help you manage your time more efficiently.

How do you become a great leader? You must focus on the key ingredients of motivating others to achieve the practice goals. I have outlined some of the major steps you can address in your quest.

  • Write a vision statement. A vision statement is a short series of paragraphs describing where you want your practice to go. It clarifies what you want to accomplish and allows you to concisely share your dream with your dental team. A dental team can only be motivated and excited if they have some sense of where the practice is going. A good leader is usually able to positively influence the team to embrace the vision. For example, do you want to add new services or technologies that will help your practice achieve its goals? Share that information with the team, and get them excited about the vision. If they are involved they will feel a commitment to make the vision a reality.
  • Set clear goals. Goal setting is the description of what you want to accomplish in the short term toward the vision and how you are going to get there. By setting clear goals, you can assign responsibilities to different team members. Team members gain a sense of responsibility and become more committed to the practice. This is a wonderful opportunity to raise the skills of your team and to have them participate in achieving the vision.
  • Create step-by-step systems. Establish repeatable systems and document each in writing. Use a step-by-step approach. This helps your current and future team members to master their responsibilities, which increases their productivity and decreases their stress. And when your teams' stress level decreases, so does yours!
  • Measure, measure, measure! Use the monthly staff meeting to review progress. This keeps everyone focused on the big picture. Since dentists do not have time to daily coach team members in every aspect of the practice, staff meetings can be used to give feedback, answer questions, offer guidance, and be a resource.
  • Develop informal communication. One way to provide excellent guidance to your team is to have mini-conversations throughout the day.

Always keep your vision in mind and refer to it when helping your team make decisions or when answering questions. This re-enforces the vision and the direction that the practice is taking.

Leadership truly is an art. If you want to create a practice vision statement, think about where you want to be in three to five years. This is the first step. Today is the day to commit to your vision and goals, which will help tremendously in becoming a great leader.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management for general dentists and specialists. Contact The Levin Group at (410) 654-1234.

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