As a dentist, leadership skills are one of the most important tools at your disposal. When you can effectively guide your hygienists, assistants, and office staff, you are better able to serve your patients. In turn, you will see increased practice growth and a more positive, healthy work environment. You may even notice that your personal satisfaction increases. However, learning good leadership skills can be difficult, and recognizing them in yourself is often a challenge, as well. Today’s quiz can help you gauge your leadership abilities and find the areas where you may be in most need of improvement.
1. Your dental hygienist, Denise, is a skilled clinician, but she is not dedicated to the practice. Because she works on commission, she does not attend team meetings. She also shows up late and is snappish with your patients. What do you do?
- Sit down with her and have a talk. Explain that her lack of commitment is hurting the team and patient service. Ask her if there is anything you can do to improve her work experience.
- Let it go. Good hygienists are hard to find, especially in your location. You don’t want her to quit and put a severe strain on your practice.
- Address Denise’s lack of commitment at a team meeting. Hopefully, she’ll be there, but, if not, maybe the rest of your team will help put the pressure on her.
- Do nothing. Do you have the right to make demands on a contractor?
How do you feel about ongoing training?
- It is a cornerstone of my practice. I regularly take continuing education courses on clinical subjects, as well as interpersonal relationships. My team takes regular classes, as well.
- I take classes, and I tell my team they can take extra training, if they want. I don’t force it, though, because I know how valuable their time is.
- I take classes and so does my team. Some of my employees have expressed interest in certain aspects of dentistry, but I decide what areas they should focus on. After all, I know what will most benefit the practice.
- I’ve thought about taking classes, but I really don’t know what classes I should take or what would most benefit my staff.
How do you communicate with your team?
- We have morning huddles every day, and we have Growth Conferences once a quarter. My team also knows they can come to me whenever they have a concern.
- I send out email blasts, so everyone can read practice notifications at their convenience.
- If there’s a problem, I’ll call a meeting. I also hold biannual performance reviews.
- If I need to communicate something, I’ll tell the person the next time I see them in the office. Usually, everything goes along ok, though.
How do you celebrate practice accomplishments?
- When we reach a major milestone, we have an office celebration. Sometimes, this is as simple as small party at lunch, and other times, we may have something more formal outside the office. I also recognize my team’s dedication with small, yearly appreciation gifts.
- I ask my team how they would like to celebrate. Why do they always have to pick Del Frisco’s?
- I tell the office manager to pick up a cake from Wal-Mart.
- We’ve never had a celebration. It’s a good idea, though. What kind of milestones should we be celebrating?
How “family friendly” is your work policy?
- I have a written and clearly established policy for my team members with children. I have built in extra sick days for family emergencies. My team also knows I will support them in time of family crisis.
- I know how challenging it is to have a family. I have let my team know they can take extra sick days for their kids. It’s weird that their kids always get sick on Fridays, though. Wait, does my hygienist even have a kid?
- Patient experience and practice growth comes first. If they can’t handle kids and career, this is not the job for them.
- I’m trying to establish family friendly policies, but I’m not sure where to start.
Your Leadership Skills
If you answered mostly 1’s: Congratulations! You demonstrate excellent leadership skills. You take a firm stance with your team, but, at the same time, you respect the needs and talents each employee. You maintain open communication and foster an environment of personal and professional growth.
If you answered mostly 2’s: You are hesitant to take a stand. Don’t be afraid to take charge of your practice. Becoming a leader does not mean you will become a dictator. In fact, your team will appreciate the clear direction in which you are taking them. Together you will benefit from more efficient office policies and greater practice success. A dental coach can help you learn stronger leadership techniques, while maintaining your concern for your team’s wellbeing.
If you answered mostly 3’s: Your leadership is misdirected. Although you are trying to establish a clear role as a practice leader, you are compromising the integrity and personal value of your team. Remember, without your assistants, hygienists, and administrative staff, you wouldn’t have a practice. A dental coach can help you combine your defined goals with a more compassionate leadership approach.
If you answered mostly 4’s: You have undefined goals, and therefore, you cannot truly establish leadership. Specific objectives are essential to practice growth. Consider hiring a coach to help you define your goals and implement them with improved leadership abilities.