Dentist's managing solo practices need to be more than just healthcare providers - they need to harness the leadership qualities of a CEO. In doing so, they will lead their staff as a cohesive and unified Team rather than a loose collection of unimpassioned employees.
Dentist-CEOs have an obligation to inspire their employees
Over the years, many books and articles have been written about the qualities of great leaders. Today, small businesses of privately owned dental practices are struggling to stay competitive. DSO’s are exploding thanks to investment from private equity. Similarly, large group practices abound due to collaborations of once solo-practices into multi-location and multi-specialty dental groups.
These macroeconomic changes in the industry have placed a tremendous strain on solo dental practices. To negotiate this new minefield, solo dentists are called upon to be the CEO and Leader in their dental practice. Failure to embrace the need for enhanced leadership skills could cause the solo practitioner’s demise.
Through many years as a primary dental care provider and a dental consultant, I have met and mentored many now successful leaders in their dental offices. Managing human resources, the largest expense item, is the most challenging aspect of running a successful practice. These dentist-CEOs, in my view, have an obligation to inspire their employees.
Inspiration comes primarily from the energy and passion of the dentist. This driving energy must be contagious, so that the dental office Team can feel and embrace the energy. From the morning huddle and throughout the days and months, co-workers celebrate their successes; they become educated to minimize their weaknesses and overcome any obstacle in their path. The goals and aspirations of the practice owner become the result of the collective Team effort. The Team is rewarded for their collective performance.
The dentist must be aware that he or she is the focus of the Team’s attention. They must be empathetic, a good listener, and mindful. These traits must be demonstrated daily, consistently and equally to all staff members. When a problem arises, the dentist listens, is honest and forthright, and accepts varying views of others. This collaborative approach replaces some unpleasant habits such as pointing fingers, snapping at employees or playing favorites. The result is consensus building, decreased drama and a more productive workplace.
It is this process that builds trust, because it is transparent. There are no hidden agendas. If the process fails, the dentist together with the Team tries for another solution, utilizing the same process, until the issue is resolved. The Team becomes the focus and drive for success.
Open and transparent communications among the leader and the team must become the driving energy behind practice success. Work becomes fun when the staff thrives together. When one Team member is down, the other Team members have to help lift that staff member up or else the entire group is susceptible to failure. This is all done without asking. Team members are accountable to each other.
The dentist sets the tone persistently and consistently. This model creates a unique quality in the dental office. Service becomes the driving force promoted by the passionate energy of the dentist. DSO’s cannot match the quality and service excellence of a Dentist-CEO and their Team. In this manner, the solo dentist makes the difference on the road to the successful CEO of his practice.
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