The success and growth of your dental practice depends on several factors: your strategic business plan, your dental team, your marketing, your office procedures, and more, but none of these factors matter without your effective leadership. By identifying the skills and patterns of a successful leader, you can make a leadership development plan that improves your leadership and improves your dental practice.
When thinking about growth, it often feels like you need to be a dental marketing expert constantly working to maximize your dental marketing ROI, but investing in dental marketing strategies or contracting with a dental marketing agency without investing in developing strong leadership is not a formula for sustainable, long-term success.
What is meant by leadership?
In a previous blog post, we explored the foundational qualities that make great leaders, which you can read here. Now let’s take an even closer look.
To get what leadership means, it’s helpful to look at what it’s not. Dental practice management is important, but it is not the crux of leadership. Management focuses on coordinating and delivering tasks. Leadership focuses on developing your team.
Leadership is about people. It revolves around the development and growth of the people that help deliver the services of your business. Building, motivating, and maintaining your team is at the heart of your success. Creating an environment where your team thrives hinges on effective leadership. It’s the driving force behind the development and growth of your practice. All your other efforts mean little without it.
What does failure look like?
Failure is success if we learn from it. In examining leadership failure, you learn about your dental practice leadership and take a foundational step towards creating a leadership development plan.
Some causes of leadership failure:
- Chasing the wrong goals
- Lack of clearly defined values and principals
- Poor work environment and lack of trust
- Loss of focus
- Poor communication
- Failure to listen
- Poor relationship building
- Difficulty accepting the truth
- Lack of accountability
- Failure to delegate
- Lack of flexibility
What does successful leadership look like?
This question has different answers. Your job is to figure out what it looks like for you, your team, and your unique dental practice.
Your leadership development goals and action plan depend on who you are and what you want to accomplish. Understanding your leadership story with both its successes and failures is key to creating your leadership development plan and putting it into action.
Knowing your leadership story is key to understanding your dental practice and what’s important to bring to your dental marketing ideas, even if it is connected to failure. It’s the basis for becoming the effective leader of a thriving dental practice.
Different Leadership Styles
Examining different leadership styles is another foundational step towards making a leadership development plan that leads to the success you want.
How does leadership style affect one’s actions and behaviors?
Analyzing different leadership styles helps you understand what kind of leader you want to be and what kind of leader is best to grow your dental practice.
Leadership style affects everything:
- The work environment
- The motivation of your team
- The long-term success of your practice
- The ability of your practice to innovate and grow
- The ability of your team to overcome obstacles or weather a crisis
Understanding your team is crucial. Answering these questions about your team will guide your leadership style more than anything else.
- Who are they?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What is their preferred communication style?
- What challenges are they currently facing?
- What is the culture of your office?
- What values and vision do you want to promote with them?
Six Styles of Leadership
The Boss: Coercive Leadership Style
- Mindset: Do what I say
- Expectations: Follow orders precisely
- Defined as: Demanding, confrontational, task-driven micro-manager, cool under pressure
- Work environment: Lacks individual motivation and trust. Not a place for skillful employees to thrive. Makes innovation and growth difficult
The Visionary: Authoritative Leadership Style
- Mindset: Come with me
- Expectation: Trust, don’t question
- Defined as: Confident, creative, charismatic, passionate, idea-driven, persuasive
- Work Environment: A strong, leader-driven vision. Leader has full decision-making power and control. Team lacks the ability to make decisions and find creative solutions to problems on their own. Makes an agile workforce more difficult
The Caregiver: Affiliative Leadership Style
- Mindset: People first
- Expectations: Do your best work
- Defined as: Empathetic, motivational, people-person, good communicator, relationship builder, trust-builder
- Work Environment: Harmonious. Fosters a growth mindset within the team. Makes it safe for new ideas and innovation. Team overcomes obstacles during stressful times
The Listener: Democratic Leadership Style
- Mindset: What do you think?
- Expectations: Teamwork is everything
- Defined as: Strong communicator, collaborative, team motivator, consensus builder
- Work Environment: Relaxed and productive. Best for skilled, eager employees who thrive as members of a team. Lacks formal rules and procedures. Consensus building takes time—slow decision-making and innovation
The Hustler: Pacesetting Leadership Style
- Mindset: Do as I do. Now.
- Expectations: Better, faster, stronger.
- Defined as: Energetic, intense, driven, high-performing, results-obsessed, leads from the front, strong entrepreneurial spirit
- Work Environment: Fast-paced, pressure-laden, deadline-driven with potential to undercut morale through fear of failure
The Mentor: Coaching Leadership Style
- Mindset: Try this
- Expectations: You can do this
- Defined as: Motivating, nurturing, empowering, life-long learner, progress-driven
- Work Environment: Trusting. Brings out the best in people. Invests time and energy into developing a team with a plan for long-term vision and growth. Strong growth mindset towards employees. Empowers the team to develop skills that help grow the business.
Chances are you lean toward one or two of these styles. Shifting between styles makes you adaptable to different circumstances. Your dental practice is not fixed. It will go through various stages of growth at different times. Your leadership style does too. Circumstances have a way of changing rapidly and without notice. Being adaptable is vital to long-term success.
To further analyze and pinpoint your leadership strengths and weaknesses prior to making your leadership development plan, utilizing scientific backed surveys such as https://www.viacharacter.org can go a long way to maximizing your efforts.
Your Leadership Development Plan
With the foundational steps in place, it’s time to create your leadership development plan.
After developing your leadership plan, a dental consultant can help you activate your plan and work through the inevitable obstacles along the way. A dental marketing company can turn your passion and commitment in leadership to the story you want to tell through your dental marketing.
Five Questions for Making Your Leadership Development Plan
1) What are your goals?
Be specific. You can’t get anywhere without knowing where you want to go. Thinking through and writing down your leadership goals shows you the direction towards becoming a better leader.
A few suggestions:
- Build specific skills to become a more effective leader
- Overcome a crisis in your dental office practice
- Develop a stronger growth mindset
- Improve your office environment to foster more autonomous motivation
- Learn to create a more agile workforce
- Work on your communication to foster more trust within your office team
2) What makes a great leader?
Invest the time and effort in studying and understanding great leadership. Find reputable resources and books to delve into the topic. Learn from the experts, but use what makes sense to you. Picture how it fits into your leadership story.
3) Who are you?
This is two-fold. First, assess yourself. Second, collect assessments from other people. Analyze yourself first and be honest. Then sincerely gather feedback from your team. Write it down and reflect on it. Don’t shy away from digging deep. You need to know who you are before you can develop and grow. Also understand that the way you see yourself may or may not be the perception your team has of you. It’s a part of your story.
4) What do you value most, and how does it shape your vision?
Core values drive what you do and how you do it. They drive your communication, your decisions, and the environment you create for your employees. Write it down. What principles guide your decisions? What qualities do you want to exemplify? What does achievement look like?
5) What skills do you want to develop?
The previous steps prepared you to identify the gap between where you are as a leader and where you want to be. Evaluating the areas in your leadership where you are weak and gaining the insight into the areas you know you most need to work on. Now, it’s time to develop the leadership skills to close the gap and get to where you want to go. Write a list of the skills you want to develop and concentrate on one or two at a time. Progress is a process.
Bring It All Together
In a single, easily accessible document, write down:
- Your personal vision statement
- Your skill goals
- The time-bound steps for achieving each goal
- The tools you will use to complete the steps
- The people who you will call to help you reach your goals
- Strategies you will use to keep disciplined for the long-haul
You have a leadership development plan!
Putting your leadership goals and action plan into place is important, but regular check-ins and monitoring of your action plan is the most important step towards long-term success.
A dental consultant can assist with this monitoring. As much as leadership is a process, your leadership development plan is too. For sustainable growth, it’s helpful to have someone provide touchpoints in the process.