Empowering dental assistants for a successful future (A message from the new ADAA president)

A new president is at the helm of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). Natalie Kaweckyj is ready to empower ADAA members into a productive future, where all members are heard and feel free to voice their ideas.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 05 Empower 1

A new president is at the helm of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). Natalie Kaweckyj is ready to empower ADAA members into a productive future, where all members are heard and feel free to voice their ideas.


This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.

Having just returned from a weekend in the East to celebrate Virginia Cairrao’s term as ADAA president, I was reminded about how much we rely on one another to get through various events in our lives, the good, the bad, and the difficult. Many ADAA members from several states participated in this event of joy and celebration in a show of solidarity, praising the accomplishments of Virginia’s tenure. Friendships were rekindled and others created. For some, it had been several years since their last interaction. For others, it was the first time to meet face-to-face.

All those in a position of leadership can look back over their lives and identify the people who mentored them. Thinking back to my years of involvement in the ADAA, many members have contributed not only to my professional development, but also to my personal growth. Most of us don’t forget the people who empower us. Here are a few things that are involved in empowering people for growth:

Recognize their gifts and assets, and strengthen any weaknesses with constructive criticism. Praise the small milestones and encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone. Celebrate the large successes as well as the not-so-great endeavors.

Provide them with an opportunity to grow. Offer to mentor anyone who needs to improve their confidence, or to make stronger and wiser decisions. Mentoring does not have to take a lot of time, and with technology today, it’s much easier than before to stay in contact with people.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Most people are not held back by what they can't do, they are held back by what they think they can't do. When you create an environment where people are capable of almost anything, they will believe it and rise to their hidden potential.

The following things can be used on a larger scale to empower fellow team members in the workplace or within the ADAA membership via local, state, and national levels.

Sharing information with team members is essential because it not only helps to build trust, it gives employees important information that allows them to make the best possible decisions in critical circumstances. Within the ADAA, sharing information allows opportunities to further education and volunteerism, and strengthens the pathway to success. By informing everyone about current issues, concerns, and obstacles, no one is left in the dark about the issues at hand. Everyone can then efficiently and effectively make decisions on an equal playing field.

We need to support each other in a learning environment by looking at various situations and discussing them together to determine how to handle things to achieve a better result. This is really what our lives are all about—learning new things as we go along by analyzing the things we’ve done in the past. This can be done within the ADAA through various councils and committees, harnessing the gifts and talents of members to divide and conquer the business at hand. I encourage you to get involved and reap the benefits. We can all foster an environment of trust, help one another learn from our successes, and evaluate disappointments.

Create goals and objectives to reach your vision and encourage involvement. This will help create the essential framework for team members to make empowered decisions to keep harmony and keep patients happy. Within the ADAA, each leader develops a map of sorts to reach their goals and dreams. Be aware that there may be forks in the road to success. People flourish in environments where they feel they’re part of something larger than themselves. Leaders who share their vision guide their teams to pursue a common direction and empower them to work toward a common goal. We’ve seen this through the course of ADAA history. Encouraging others to assert themselves and share ideas is vital so that all suggestions are offered and evaluated. This is much better than grumbling and pointing fingers when things veer off course. When people feel that what they have to say is not valued, critical opinions can be overlooked. The result can lead to an organization not making the best choices.

Build up one another todevelop self-confidence and make decisions with an open mind and direction. By helping others see their worth, leaders are developing future leaders whom they will be able to rely on down the road. Team members with positive self-images and confidence can add greatly to team performance and overall success. In a professional setting, empowering members to make decisions will keep the members happy, and allowing them to make mistakes will help them learn from those mistakes.

Celebrate both successes and failures. Don’t just celebrate the successes. Celebrate the team members who took a risk but may not have obtained the intended results. Valuable lessons can be learned in these types of situations. Organizationally, working to create an environment that empowers members has been shown to not only increase member satisfaction, but also improve overall morale.

The ultimate goal of empowerment is to develop an environment of trust, where every individual is accountable for their own actions. When a leader is successful in creating a culture of empowerment, each member feels accountable to the organization and the decision-making process. Each empowered member feels a belonging to the mission and will continue to make valuable contributions. The concept, “We are all in this together,” permeates and a trusting atmosphere evolves.

In closing, I thank my predecessors for their encouragement and drive, raise my cup of coffee to Madame President Cairrao for invaluable insight, laughter, and camaraderie, and look forward to working with all members during my term. Here’s to making memories. Together we will make a difference!

Natalie Kaweckyj, LDA, RF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, BA
President 2017-2018
American Dental Assistants Association


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