Leadership is about building up the people around you

customer-service-and-dental-practicesLeadership is such a commanding term that it’s easy to overlook that at its best, it’s simply influence. People in your organization want to know what direction to go and your cues often tell them everything they need to know.

I’d like to share a recent story of an instance when a change in leadership definately didn’t work and why. The new regime, quickly shifted focus to immediate bottom line results. What followed was a wave of cost-cutting terminations of some excellent,  long term employees.

This type of short term thinking is almost always guaranteed to result in long-term headaches.

Sometimes the term leader is misused. I’ve seen individuals placed in leadership positions without the skills, knowledge, ability and personalities to truly lead.

In many cases, these individuals come into the role with little confidence or were blinded by power and greed. It would be laughable if the end results weren’t so awful. Leaders have to look out for those they lead. And those who don’t quickly lose the commitment of employees to the organization.  

The true success of any business is not the bottom line, but the ability to create a service and product people clamour for and want. And creating this kind of success requires that employees believe  the organization is doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons.

In the particular situation noted above, I watched as individuals who developed a magnificent business based on trust, belief and likeability were shown the door, as the business itself slowly fell apart.

For those of you that think you’re leaders, or those of you who hope to be leaders, or those of you who have been put in leadership positions, consider what your ultimate goal is. Your goal should be to build a great business, not for the short term, but for the long term. Your goals should be to bring the people around you up, not down.

You have to be constant in your commitment to communication, fairness and honesty. Following these basic tenants will certainly make you feel better, and ultimately create an excellent product and long term success.

I offer one-on-one coaching to help busy professionals develop the leadership skills to succeed in any workplace. If this sounds like something you could use please get in touch.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 4

Leading makes a leader. I discovered this a number of years ago when I found myself the head of my dental practice.

And like many, leading was an unexpected byproduct of heading up a dental team.

I knew what I wanted but I had to learn to become a leader for my partners, colleagues and staff. Leadership wasn’t about me: it was about them. Helping them to do their jobs at the highest level they could do by providing them with the encouragement, guidance and example to follow.

I did a lot of research and learning along the way and found that it came down to 17 areas that contributed to becoming a successful leader.

They are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

I’ve covered many of them in three previous blog posts.

Here’s the rest….

Inspiration

Where do your ideas come from? Where do your team members’ ideas come from? In business you will always need new and fresh ideas. They could come from all walks of life, all different types of people, all different ideas, but you constantly need to renew your ideas and come up with fresh ones. Many times I find I get inspiration from the people around me. It can be an inspiring story or something I’ve learned about a team member or partner that I fully didn’t understand or was aware of. Think about those who inspired you, why they did, and work to create that same atmosphere so that the people around and near you walk away inspired.

Self Control

Self-control is critical. In the heat of battle, it’s difficult, even at time almost impossible to have self-control. But it is a crucial part of success and leadership.

Self-control starts first by understanding yourself, knowing the buttons that can trigger your reactions, and trying to maintain your personal self-control.

And in the end, it’s willpower, the constant drive to be the best at what you’re doing and to instill that willpower in the team members around you.

If you are struggling with becoming a leader in your organisation – whether it be in healthcare environment or not, the principles remain the same.

I offer one-on-one coaching to help busy professionals develop the leadership skills to succeed in any workplace. If this sounds like something you could use please get in touch.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 3

What makes a leader?

For many it’s a process that starts when they find themselves in a leadership position. They suddenly have the title – even if they don’t necessarily have the skills. When I found myself in that position as the head of a dental practice, I took a deep dive into researching leadership.

What-makes-a-dentist-a-good-leader

Over time I found there were a number of crucial factors that contributed to becoming a successful leader.

They are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

In two previous blog posts, I explored some of them. Here are some more…

Determination

Having worked with hundreds and perhaps thousands of employees over the past 30 years, it’s become clear to me that a strong willed, determined individual can become a superstar. The key is having the determination, the drive and the desire to succeed. Without those traits, it’s extremely difficult to raise a team member to a higher level of success.

The same is true for leadership. Without determination, your organization will start to fail. Business, like relationships, are difficult and require enormous amounts of determination to succeed.

Commitment

Mean what you say, say what you mean and don’t deviate from that. Working with employees, team members and partners, I’ve learned that if a commitment is made and you don’t fully pursue the outcome, trouble ensues. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re setting an example and people will respond. When you make a commitment, make sure you can keep it.

Tenacity

Tenacity means that no matter the challenge, you never give up. Further, it’s up to you to  instill this tenacity in the people around you. My experience is that unfortunately people generally lack this mindset and give up too easily. The hard fact is you have to constantly push yourself to be successful in leadership and management.

Belief

Simply put, believe in yourself or others don’t believe in you.

Faith

As with belief, you have to have faith in yourself before people will have faith in you. And that faith must also include faith in your people and team to get the job done. If their faith in you fades or yours in them,  your business will struggle and your leadership will falter.

If you are running a business and struggling with leadership issues, I’d like to talk to you. My business coaching will help you define a vision for your business and walk you through the steps to become a better leader – that delivers superior results.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 2

As I noted in a previous post, leadership became a passion of mine precisely when I found myself having to lead. I immersed myself in the study of what works and what doesn’t. And perhaps unsurprisingly discovered the principles of leadership that led me to see business in entirely unique ways.

Over the past 33 years, I’ve pulled together 17 crucial factors that affect successful leadership.

These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

I’m going to delve into some of these now.

Smiling male dentist posing with female assistants at office

Vision

By definition, vision is your ideal future. But the key is to ensure that once established, your vision is a shared one. The people around you must have the same commitment as you. If that doesn’t happen, then a breakdown is sure to happen. A good example would be if one partner wants to expand the business, the other is quite happy with the status quo. It’s not a question of  right and wrong distinctions, just a matter of differing visions.

Attitude

Attitude can make a huge difference. Being consistently positive may be hard but it is extremely important nonetheless. As a leader you are being watched, even studied by those you lead. The leader sets the example implicitly, whether the attitude be positive or negative. Most people want to be positive so it’s important to lead that way. The benefits to your staff are incalculable.

Awareness

Awareness is a personal understanding of your identity and that of the people around you. Knowing your team’s core beliefs, what motivates them, what makes them tick is invaluable. Once you understand that, you can lead them in a deftly personal way.

More factors affecting leadership will be explored in the next blog.

If you are running a business and struggling with leadership issues, I’d like to talk to you. My business coaching will help you define a vision for your business and walk you through the steps to become a better leader – that delivers superior results.

Ownership still has it’s privileges

When you own a practice as part of a chain, you have certain obligations to the franchise. At times it can feel like you aren’t your own boss although shedding a bit of  professional sovereignty yields considerable benefits.

The most important of these is that you don’t really have to put too much thought into how you run your practice. Or at least that’s how many owner/dentists tend to approach things.

But what happens is that you start thinking about your services as products to be sold rather than treatments for patients. So your practice becomes a glorified assembly line. Where treatments are ranked based on price and not necessarily patient need.

I recently told the story of an elderly couple who came into my practice facing either a pricey root canal, or a simple extraction. Obviously a short term win for me would have been the root canal. But then given the patient’s age and medical history, would that have been the right choice? Of course not. So we did the extraction.

If someone owns a practice that is part of a chain they could theoretically still offer advice to a patient that would save them money.

Doing so would create loyalty with that customer and make their operation stand out among the other chain services lining the streets.

So why don’t more do this? Depressingly, it could be because it doesn’t matter.

Being part of a chain means a steady flow of customers drawn in because of the brand. Word of mouth means little. A chain store is a chain store is a chain store, right? Is your local Starbucks any worse or better than the one down the street? Does it really matter if someone is just looking for a coffee?

Well yes and no. Because a business person can have their cake and eat it too. They can operate under a chain and deliver superior service with an eye to getting return business, loyalty and word-of-mouth.

What’s the cost? Very little if one puts the cost of saving customers money against the cost of regional marketing and advertising budgets.

But there is a very real reason why individual service initiatives don’t often happen in a chain store. Simply put, most dentists working in chain operations only stay for two years. Any quality service improvements will ultimately just frustrate the next dentist who may not have the same integrity.

So what to do? As a customer, I always choose the independent operator.  It doesn’t mean I don’t trust the chains. I simply want my dentists to have more of a long term investment in myself and my community.

When the chains make this a part of their business model, maybe they’ll even be able to retain some of their best talent beyond that two year mark.