E.I. and leadership

Dentists need to manage the mood of their practices. Gifted dentists accomplish this through a blend of psychological abilities called Emotional Intelligence.

Bob Frazer Jr., DDS

Dentists need to manage the mood of their practices. Gifted dentists accomplish this through a blend of psychological abilities called Emotional Intelligence. They recognize their feelings and those of others and manage their emotions in a way that positively influences others.

We constantly interact with and respond to the emotions of others. This is called interpersonal limbic regulation. This phenomenon is so powerful that when three strangers silently face one another for two to three minutes, the most emotionally expressive person affects the emotional state of the other two.

It's also important to remember that the leader will be the group's emotional guide. When leaders drive emotions positively, it's called resonance. If the emotional environment is negative, it's called dissonance. Our office's emotional climate has a huge impact on our patients' sense of safety and trust, which directly affects their acceptance of our treatment recommendations.

In the early 1960s, The Academy of Dental Practice Administration identified 25 of the finest practices, including Drs. L.D. Pankey, Bob Barkley, Harold Wirth, and others. SRI randomly surveyed 100 patients from these and other practices, asking them about their doctors' competence, punctuality, availability, satisfaction with fees, and caring. Dr. Barkley, recounting this research, stated, "With such outstanding practices, all scores were high, but by far the highest score was given to one statement in the survey: "The doctor and his staff genuinely like one another."

What is the emotional climate of your office? How can you become more resonate? First, decide you truly want to be more emotionally intelligent and resonant. If you want to grow your E.Q., here are five questions to answer on a 1-to-5, lowest-to-highest scale to get a sense of your current E.Q. Ask a close friend or coworker who will give an honest opinion to do the same rating on you. Then, compare scores.

1) What is my capacity for recognizing my feelings? In the heat of the moment, am I aware of what I'm feeling, and can I label those feelings?

2) What is my capacity for recognizing the feelings of others? Again, in the heat of an event, do I recognize the feelings of others, and can I label and understand them? Empathy is sensing other people's emotions and also understanding their perspective, then taking an active interest in their concerns.

3) Do I use emotions to motivate myself? Or do emotions tend to de-motivate or arrest my progress?

4) Do I manage my emotions well? When I experience an emotion, do I channel it in a positive way? For example, fear can be paralyzing. One must feel the fear, express it, and then act bravely.

5) Do I manage emotions well in my relationships? Or do emotions actually interfere with my relationships? Transparency — displaying honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness, as well as disclosing your feelings — is an E. I. competency hallmark of star leaders that we develop in all our clients.

Those who've followed this series know that I'm a "recovering emotional avoider." One great aid for me has been our feelings board. A simple corkboard hangs near where we hold our morning huddle. The days of the week are across the top, and the names of each team member are down on the left. On the bottom is a feelings legend with the following flags:

Yellow = On top of the world, feeling warm and fuzzy.
Green = Eighty percent of me is great, but I'm struggling with 20 percent.
Blue = Emotional today, and I need a hug.
Black = Emotional today, but I don't need a hug!
White = Give me space today.
Red = Bard - Parkers at 50 paces!

Each morning everyone puts up a feelings flag(s) upon arrival. This serves as a great self-awareness step for all. You can, of course, change your flags during the day. Next month, more on E.I. and leadership.

References available from the author upon request.

Dr. Bob Frazer, Jr., FACD, FICD, is founder of R.L. Frazer & Assoc., whose custom programs help dentists achieve top 5 percent status in financial achievement & life balance (fulfillment and significance). Thirty years of quality practice and superb communication skills have propelled him to a 28-year international speaking career. Co-founder of RMR (18th edition — June 29 to July 3, '04), a multi-speaker, family summer E.Q. Building Conference. This year's theme is "Healing the Healer." For information on this or other programs, or to receive "7 Ways to Grow Your E.Q." contact him at (512) 346-0455, fax (512) 346-1071, bob@frazeronline.com. Web site www.frazeronline.com

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