Office culture

March 21, 2012
Issue 11

What sets the stage for one group to consistently outperform all others? Why does one practice in an area outshine all the rest? What creates the personality of any group – whether large or small? What is the foundation of this phenomenon every group has called “culture”? Bringing it home

What sets the stage for one group to consistently outperform all others? Why does one practice in an area outshine all the rest? What creates the personality of any group – whether large or small? What is the foundation of this phenomenon every group has called “culture”?

Bringing it home

Clinical CE is one of the most important investments you can ever make in yourself. Continually pushing your level of clinical excellence is foundational to all other development efforts. The confidence and competence you display at chairside impacts all other aspects of your leadership. Patients will never truly appreciate the excellence in dentistry they receive from a professional who never rests on his or her clinical “laurels” – but each time you are chairside the internal standard of excellence you have created for yourself exudes into all procedures you do.

A pediatric practice in my area provides insight into these questions. It opened in March of 2000 with a dream to provide a kid-centric experience that made going to the dentist actually fun. Fast forward 10 years later and this practice grew 40% last year alone. The quality of care provided is only exceeded by the quality of the relationships the team and doctors establish with each child and parent who walk in the door. Their secret? The senior doctor and owner is a genuine “kid” at heart who is Peter Pan in scrubs. Fun is a part of the practice culture – because it is a part of the practice owner. Yes the doctor is organized and yes the practice schedule stays tight (because those are also values of the owner) – but the overriding kid-like culture in the practice is a direct reflection of the heart of its leader.

Every business I have been a part of or consulted with over the years drives home this one lesson: The culture and performance of an organization eventually reflects the values and vision, expectations and tempo of it’s preeminent leader. If you want to see why a group behaves and performs the way it does you only have to look as far as its leader. The story of Hillcrest High School’s football program discussed in the last “Take the Lead” is another striking example of this truth. Organizations quickly mirror their preeminent leader and take on the character and attributes of the person at the helm. The leader not only sets the expectations, pace, tempo and targets, but ultimately creates the culture – the way we talk to each other and the way we treat each other. It is impossible for organizations to run faster than their leader.

It starts with you

Leadership development, therefore, is an inside-out process. It starts with the leader. To develop your team you must first continually develop you. Let me state that again because if there is one and only one “aha” you take away from this article it is this…leadership development is an inside-out process. To develop your team you must first continually develop you.

Where do we begin this self development process? It starts with desire. The fact you are reading Dental Products Report already demonstrates a commitment to self development and eduction. It shows you are in the top tier of dental professionals who are hungry for knowledge, not satisfied with the status quo, and wanting to continue to raise the bar personally and professionally. Desire is where all true progess begins. We experience that clinically every day when educating patients or presenting treatment – desire is where all progress starts. Without it nothing changes. With it great things occur.

That desire must then be coupled with the catalyst to personal development: self honesty. Self-honesty is to the process of personal development what an exam, radiographs and impressions are to the process of providing excellent dentistry – it allows us to “see” clearly, and once we are able to “see” we know what to do. Recently I began working with a client who has been a practicing dentist for over 15 years with a moderately successful practice. In our discussions about the health of his practice, for the first time in his professional life, he admitted that the level of clinical dentistry he is practicing hasn’t changed since graduating from dental school – and this flat lining of his clinical skills has affected his confidence with both patients and staff. He knows and feels guilty that there is more he could do to help his patients, but instead has settled having a “patch and fill” practice. That statement was liberating to him because he was finally able to understand how to attack his lack of confidence – and we now have a plan to do so.

What's your blind spot?

There are numerous resources available to help us “see” ourselves. We all have blind sides, self defeating behaviors and habits that erode our effectiveness if we simply stand and do nothing. These resources can have tremendous value if we listen to what they are saying and then begin to act positively and proactively on that knowledge. The importance is to not only have a tool that helps us see, but also provides the “therefore, what ?” – what do I do next? My favorite resource for personal leadership development is the Leadership Profile Index (LPI) by Pfeiffer. The LPI uses the work of the authors of The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, to accurately assess where a leader falls on the scale of the five common behaviors all effective leaders demonstrate. It then provides the personal development roadmap with follow up assessments used later to confirm individual progress. Providing personal and group feedback in an safe and anonymous way, if you are serious about leadership, it is the best, least expensive investment you will ever make. The survey can be found at SpielConsulting.com.

Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, was a man known for his characteristic bluntness. He once said, “Everybody’s got to have somebody who can tell them to go to heck.” There is a crying need for each one of us to be able to honestly and accurately “see” ourselves in the mirror – and then do something about it. And this self knowledge is never more important than in leading a group. Leadership is truly an inside-out process. There is no way avoiding that fact. It all starts with the leader because, as we said earlier, it is impossible for organizations to run faster than their leader.

Robert Spiel, MBA, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. He founded Spiel Consulting to leverage his passion for working closely with health care professionals - guiding them toward peak performance and prosperity.  A former hospital and surgical center CEO, he has 25 years experience in transformational leadership, marketing, and business finance.

A member of the Speaking Consulting Network(SCN) and Chairman of the SCN Strategic Planning Committee, he is available to speak nationwide.  Bob also serves on the board of Climbing for a Cause which provides dental care to children in the remote areas of Guatamala and Tibet.