How to Be a Great Leader for Your Dental Team

Many dentists aren’t happy with the progress of their dental offices, and when we dig deeper we often find that some simple tweaks in leadership style can make a huge difference.

Great leadership can quickly rally teams to perform at a higher level and allow the practice to reach its goals much more smoothly.

In this episode, Dr. John Meis explains some simple ways to become a great leader in your practice and create incredible results with your team.

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Hi, I'm Dr. John Meis and I wanted to do a little video for everybody on really the mindset of an effective dental executive. Remember, you're running a million dollar business, multimillion dollar, many of you, businesses. You are a business executive, and whether you think of yourself in that way or not, you are, right? So what I want to talk today about is doctor leadership, and what does it take to provide great leadership for a team, and how do we get a team in line with our vision?

The very first thing is having clarity of vision. I think one of the greatest ways you can develop your own vision is to ask this question of yourself. We're sitting here three years from today. What would have to happen in order for you to feel happy with the progress of your practice? Get specific. Think about numbers, think about team members, think about capabilities, think about technology, think about patient attraction and patient retention.

Think about all those things and start mapping out what that looks like three years from now, in your ideal world. Once you have that mapped out, share it with your team. Share it with them in detail. Ask for their opinions and thoughts. Get their ideas on what that would look like. Get their ideas and see if we can make that vision even clearer. Let them ask questions, let them challenge it, right? Let them challenge it and you answer every challenge with the conviction that you have in your vision. If you aren't convinced it's the right vision, and if you aren't completely set on achieving that vision, your team will sense that. If your team senses that, they may start picking away at that, if it's not what their vision is. I've found that on almost every single team, there's a team member whose vision is to have things three years from now exactly as they are now.

Every team has one of those, but if that person is not brought into the fold, it can cause a tremendous amount of damage. So step one is creating that vision. Step two, is being able to communicate that vision to your team in a way that is win, win, win. First of all, we're going to do what's right for the patients, right? We're going to do what's best for the patients every time, always, right? That's so important that that is the core of your vision.

The second thing is what's in it for the team members? Why is this going to be beneficial for the team members? You have to be able to articulate that. In some practice it's having more resources or more technology, make their jobs easier. In some practices, it's some type of bonus plans so that your team is able to earn more income. You have to figure that out, what that is in your practice, but it's important that you be able to communicate that to the team.

And lastly, of course, you have to be able to communicate it. What is good for the practice itself? If you do the first two well, the last one is obvious. When it comes to team members, I said, there's almost always someone whose vision is going to be different from your own. Your job is to try to get that person on board, and when you look at your team, we like to evaluate teams using three questions. Do they get what we're trying to accomplish? If the answer is no to that, our job as a leader, is to help them to understand exactly where we're going and why? Why that's good for the patient. The second question we ask is do they want it? Do they want to have that bigger future in your practice or are they one of those that just wants to stay right where we are?

The last question we ask is, can they do it? So if they have the capabilities to do it and they understand what we're trying to accomplish, then the leader needs to bring those that don't want it, into the fold of wanting it. So they either get on the bus or the leadership's job is to get that person off the bus.

So what I've seen so many practices stumble with is the doctor has a vision. It's not clear. It's not clearly communicated. The team has their own vision separate from the doctors, and then the team starts just pecking at all the things the doctor wants to accomplish, right? And because it's usually one owner doctor, or multiple owner doctors, but a big team, you're outnumbered. If you get enough people pecking at you like that, you lose your enthusiasm. You use your clarity, you use your engagement with your vision, and when that happens, the practice settles back into where it was instead of moving towards excellence.

So these things are so important that the doctor leads the team, the doctor creates the vision. The doctor can have the team involved in creating the vision, but it's the doctor's vision, and that's where we're going. If somebody doesn't like it, we're going to try to get them there, but if they can't get there, they got to be off the team. So those are my thoughts today on doctor leadership. Thanks for listening.