Leadership: The most critical element needed for associate success


Learning how to bridge the generation gap can result in more effective leadership.

Millennials, which span the ages of roughly 20s to the early 30s, will present a significant portion of dentists in practice by the end of the decade. As more Matures and Baby Boomers leave practice, the current distribution of dentists will be mostly Generation X and Millennials.

Given this reality, Generation X, those now in their mid-30s to mid-40s, often described as being cranky and cynical, need to learn to spend less time judging and more time engaging the Millennials.

According to Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group1, a 86 million millennials will be in the workplace by 2020-representing 40 percent of the total working population. I estimate this will also be true for the dentist population.

Gutfreund concludes, “It’s in every organization’s best interest to learn to how attract and reach and motivate Millennials.” Currently, a few practices do it well, but most don’t, and if they don’t figure it out they will pay a price.

Gutfreund says that Intelligence Group studies of millennials have found that:

·         64 percent say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.

·         72 percent would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79 percent would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.

·         88 percent prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one.

·         74 percent want flexible work schedules.

·         88 percent want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend together inextricably.

More from the author: How self-awareness impacts leadership success

What I have found to be absent in many practices, whether solo, small group or large group, is leadership. Millennial dentists are not looking to fill a slot in a group practice. They can’t afford to buy an existing practice. What Millennials are looking for are opportunities to invest in a practice where they can make a difference, in a practice itself that makes a difference.

Leadership creates motivation. Without a compelling vision, a clear mission, an idyllic purpose and strong core values, a “field”2 is not created that attracts Millennials.3 Without a motivating “why”4, Millennials see a practice as mostly self-interested; interested in the numbers rather than the patients and community health. Without visionary leadership, the practice culture feels stagnant, void of any driving force that incites true commitment and communication.3

Given the shelf-life of most Millennial dentists is approximately five years or less, the ability to create committed and responsible associates and partners will not occur. With the rapid turnover rate of associates, the ability for practices to be successful will evaporate and their asset value plummet.

The Mastery Fall SUMMIT: Resolving the Associate Dilemma, will powerfully address how to bridge the generational differences to produce successful associateships with Millennials. Given the future will be Millennials, I suggest you thoughtfully consider attending.


Continue to page two to learn more about The Mastery Fall SUMMIT...



At The Mastery Fall SUMMIT, the cofounders of the Learning Café (http://www.thelearningcafe.net/) will address the generational differences and how to deliver successful communications and engender commitment and loyalty between the generations.

Devon Scheef and Diane Thielfoldt, are senior consultants and cofounders of the Learning Café. Devon Scheef knows her way around the corporate world. She spent 17 years working in market research, sales training and organizational development-all at Fortune 100 corporations. Her past employers include Bausch & Lomb, Xerox and TRW.

Devon holds an Executive MBA from the University of Southern California, and undergraduate degrees in psychology, religious studies and business. She is qualified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and holds certifications in MindGym Microlearning and Appreciative Inquiry. Devon is the author of Mentoring: A How-To Guide published by the American Society for Training & Development, and The Personal Learning Model, a unique approach to bolstering on-the-job learning capacity.

Related reading: The current and future state of the solo and group dental practice

Diane Thielfoldt acquired her unique talents during her corporate career with McGraw-Hill, TRW, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox, where she held leadership roles in sales, marketing, communications and learning design, development and delivery. Those talents were further honed after she co-founded The Learning Café, where she specializes in designing and developing training on the four-generation workforce, the changing workplace, leadership, and engagement.

An accomplished workshop facilitator and engaging speaker, Diane has educated hundreds of managers on practical, everyday actions that contribute to a motivated, engaged workforce. She has also helped hundreds more start to bridge the generation gaps in their workplace.



1 Intelligence Group; http://intell-group.com/2014/

What is the Relationship between Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory, Science; http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/199402/what-is-the-relationship-between-quantum-physics-and-chaos-theory

3 Tackling the Challenges of the Multigenerational Workforce,Business Daily News; http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6609-multigenerational-workforce-challenges.html#sthash.6E1fU0ZD.dpuf

4 Simon Sinek TED Talk: How Leaders Inspire Action, https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en

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