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A Cry for Leadership: The “Great Resignation” of 2022


Creating better dental teams, creates better business and then better organizations, and eventually gives us the building blocks to create better communities.

A Cry for Leadership: The “Great Resignation” of 2022


I have been thinking about this “great resignation” of 2021-2022. Last year, based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 4 million people per month quit their jobs and, while 2021 showed rates that were the highest on record, this year has only tapered off slightly.

We see everyone bemoaning the impact of this national behavioral trend on the economy, and looking for a reason. If we think to the core human needs, the first being certainty and another being significance, I wonder if this is a physical manifestation of a cognitive demand for those 2 needs to be met. Could this unified voice from the masses be a request, actually a demand, for true leadership? Wage increases while important and needed don’t appear to be the answer, as employers have continued to increase starting wages. However, as of March this year, there remains 11.3 million open positions.

That would indicate that this trend is not only about money. Reducing this movement to only be about money would be missing a vitally important message. Could money be the lowest common denominator? And, if so, do we really want to drag it down to something as basic as money, saying, “Pay us more or we aren’t going to work for you?” Especially if in reality it’s about something bigger, like people crying out for leadership? People want a vision to believe in and to rally around in their day-to-day contribution. They want to be treated as though they are valued and deeply appreciated for their unique gifts. They want to grow, expand, and be included.

True leaders inspire. They create alignment and generate motivation, energy, and momentum around a purpose. I propose that this “great resignation” is about a cry for purpose and a request for leaders who build teams, who build up others, and who have a reason. When we develop leaders, when we develop people who develop other people, we create momentum, we create purpose, and we create positive energy.

When we constantly refine our leadership skills and understand that the true value in an organization is the culture that’s being developed, we understand that this requires us to develop and inspire our teams. We must support them to bring their best self and their unique gifts and contribute each day. We must invite and ignite diversity of thought to energize the organization.

But, if we dumb it down to the low hanging fruit and make it only about how many hours people are going to work or what we are going to pay them, we miss the true opportunity this message is giving us. I am not saying those things aren’t important. They absolutely are! But let’s not miss a true opportunity, a chance to create a greater culture, mission, purpose, and vision.

By trying to take the easy way out, by not wanting to hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask a few vital questions we risk achieving much less. We must look in that mirror and ask, “Hey where do I need to grow? Where do I need to expand? How do I become a better communicator? How do I find greater vision and greater purpose? How do I share that in a meaningful way to create alignment across my organization? How do I inspire positive energy and momentum?” What needs to happen for me to hold that mirror up and say, “I am doing everything possible to provide space and resources to develop and enhance all of the unique capabilities of the people who are looking to me for leadership?” What is required of me then? What do I need to learn? What am I doing right? What am I not doing right? Who do I need to search out so I can learn more? Who do I connect with who can give me real, honest, nonjudgmental feedback, someone who can help me make distinctions as a leader?

All great leaders—including dental practice owners—find someone who can honestly tell them when they are hitting and when they are missing. They need someone who can make it about more than the numbers. The numbers come as an outcome of doing good purposeful work, creating a culture of people who are inspired, creative, driven for greater things, and focused on service and accomplishment.

We have a phenomenal opportunity right now. The workforce is sending us an incredibly powerful message. However, if we miss it and we make it basic and transactional instead of inspiring and transformational, we have missed a chance to be better.

When we create better teams, we create better business and then better organizations. Eventually that gives us the building blocks to create better communities. When we figure out how to transform ourselves and expand that to others, who carry that forward and that vision spreads, that’s when as a community and, ultimately as a country, we have true impact. To create something bigger than ourselves, can’t only be boiled down to a dollar. That makes our work and our lives simply transactional, but truly inspired leadership. That makes our work powerful.

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