Leadership Starts with What You Say

We have all heard the adage “you lead by example.”  Well, that “lead” starts with what you say.  Don’t worry so much about creating your own version of a Vince Lombardi speech to rally your dental team to new heights; instead focus more on avoiding the statements that will undermine your leadership within the practice.

For example, if your assistant is struggling with her chair-side skills, do not take her into your office and tell her she is doing a terrible job.  Unless of course you want to demoralize her, potentially ruin any motivation for improvement, and create a poison that may spread to others in the practice.

Team members who are struggling typically need better communication about expectations.  They often need training and support along with an appropriate mix of positive and constructive feedback.  That is what leaders provide.  If someone is still struggling after you repeatedly provide coaching and leadership, then it may be a sign the job is not a good fit.

The second misstep to avoid is to rebut someone’s new idea with, “We’ve always done it this way.”  There are few ways to clamp down on creativity and innovation faster than by uttering those words.  Instead, encourage your dental team to suggest steps for making things even better.  Strong leaders embrace the opportunity to generate new ideas.

Finally, avoid telling your team they need to follow you because you sign their checks.  If you have to prod your employees with threats, you have either missed too many opportunities to align your team with your practice philosophy or you have ignored disciplinary issues for far too long.

As someone once said, “A leader leads by example whether he intends to or not.”  Make sure you intentionally set the right example, starting with what you say.

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