Is it ME or My Dental Staff?

From The Dr. John Meis Show

I get this question from doctors all the time. My team is driving me crazy, they don't do the things I tell them to do. It's getting more and more frustrating over time, so tell me something, " is it me or is it them?" The answer to that, on this episode of the Dr. John Meis Show now...


(For those who prefer reading over watching the video)

Dr. John Meis: I get this question from doctors all the time. My team's driving me crazy. They don't do the things I tell them to do and it's getting more and more frustrating over time. Tell me, is it me or is it them? Well, the answer to that on this episode of the Dr John Meis Show.

So this question is such a common question. Is it them or is it me, and whether it's stated or not, I think all of us as leaders have times when we have this question bouncing around in our head. Well, I have a very, very easy answer for you, doctors. It's pretty simple. It's you. Okay. Let's figure out why.

Number One, who chose the team? That would be you, doctor. Who's responsible for creating the systems they follow? Who's ultimately responsible? You are. Who is responsible for teaching them the systems to follow? That would be you. Who's responsible for enforcing those systems? Yup. That would be you. Who's choosing to keep them on the team? That would be you. Who is allowing those C, D and F players to remain on the team, which discourages the best players and often leads to them leaving, leaving your team weaker and weaker over time? Well that would be you, doctor. And who is failing to recruit A and B players? Well that would be you.

All right. So when it comes down to is it them or is it me? That's right, doctors, it's you. So I love the book, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It's a story about leadership in the Navy SEALs. And I can save you an hour and a half. It's a good read. So go ahead and get the book anyway. But I'll give you this main message of this book. And it simply is, take personal responsibility for results It doesn't matter if you're on a team or not. Take personal responsibility for the results.

So the good news is, that if it were up to the team, you'd be powerless to do anything about it. The fact is, you aren't powerless to do anything about it. You can do something about it. And what I see happening very, very frequently is that because doctors have the feeling, well it's all the team's fault. What they're doing is they're actually allowing the team to control the future of the practice.

On a previous episode I talked about the challenge support matrix. This is looking at, all of our team members need support. They also need challenge. So if you give them challenge with no support, you create a culture of fear and manipulation. That's the dominator leader style. If you give them high support and low challenge, you're a protector, but just breeds a culture of entitlement and mistrust. When doctors absolve themselves of responsibility and give the responsibility to the team, say it's them, it's not me, it's them. They're actually becoming an abdicator where theirs and that will breed no doubt a culture of apathy and low expectations. So if you're in that spot, what we want to do is move from the abdicator leadership style to the liberator leadership style. That's one of high support and high challenge.

There's a handful of steps that you go through to do that. So first one is, lead the team in setting standards. If the team's not involved in setting those standards, well they probably won't support them, right? Because people naturally do support what they help create. So lead the team in creating what those standards are going to be. Then your job as a leader is to give them the confidence that they can attain those standards. That they can actually perform at that high level. That's the challenge piece that they need. Hold everyone accountable to those standards. And I know enforcement is one of the things that we like to do the least, but it can be very, very simple.

It can be as simple as noticing that we had decided as a team that this work is going to be our standards. I noticed that you're doing this, let's go ahead and get back on track and get back onto those standards that we all agreed to. That's all it takes. Next is, praise the high performance. That's the support that they need and train the lower poor performers up. That's the support they need. Right? And if you can't train them up, well then be kind and train them out. Raise the standards at that time, because that creates the challenge and that's what creates a team that gets better and better and better. So the performance of the team improves, the experience of the patient improves and the results of the practice improve as well.

I want to remind everybody that the number one Amazon bestselling book that Wendy Briggs and I wrote, The Ultimate Guide to Doubling and Tripling your Practices Production is available to you. And I'm going to even do this for you. I'm going to buy the book. All you need to do is pay the postage and I'll send the book to you for free. So just go to and you'll get your free book. All right. That's it for this Dr. John Meis show. I'll see you next time.