Dentists who are effective leaders develop leadership styles that guide the team and practice to achieve desired goals. Since there is not one leadership style that is perfect for all situations, strong leaders use different styles depending on the situation. What follows are three of the most effective leadership styles to consider:
- Coaching. Leaders who employ the coaching style assist team members in setting and achieving goals. The coaching style provides consistent positive feedback that guides the team to overcome weaknesses and develop skills. This type of leader also regularly uses clear expectations while challenging her team to tackle projects such as making the patient experience even better or increasing treatment acceptance. Unfortunately, many dentists underutilize this style because of the time involved to effectively coach the team.
- Participative. When dentists are participative leaders, they ask for input from others before making decisions. Since the team sees that their contributions are valued, this type of leadership inspires collaboration and innovation. Participative leadership instills the team with a sense of ownership regarding the short and long-term goals impacting the practice. This type of leadership, for example, would inspire the team to find ways to increase internal referrals or improve handoffs between the clinical and front team.
- Transformational. The transformational leader is like the coaching leader with one important difference: the focus is on big picture goals instead of individual goals. Transformative leadership is used to drive the practice forward. For example, dentists who are transformative leaders may recognize the need to add flexible hours to meet patient needs and compete with corporate dentistry. Transformative leaders may also recognize the importance of adding specific technology that will improve the services offered to patients and make the practice even more appealing to new patients.
Effective leadership requires using the right leadership style at the appropriate time. Challenge yourself to employ the coaching, participative, and transformational leadership styles in your practice.