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Dental hygiene leadership: It's all in your mind

May 17, 2012
Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS, says that even if you don’t see yourself as a leader, know that you are -- by default. She points out that we are all leaders, all of the time, by virtue of our unconscious influence.

By Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Do you enjoy leading? As you were growing up, did people tell you that you had natural leadership qualities? If you don’t see yourself as a leader, know that you are nonetheless leading by default. Why? Because we are all leaders, all of the time, by virtue of our unconscious influence. Whatever you believe, think, value, feel, or say influences your behavior. Notice what you are thinking or feeling right now. If your body is tightening up and you are feeling anxious, you are having an impact on yourself and the people around you. If you are relaxed and feeling happy or content, you are having a different kind of impact on yourself and others. What is the impact you WANT to have? An American editor and essayist, William George Jordan, in his book, The Majesty of Calmness (1898), said that we cannot circumvent this responsibility by saying it is unconscious, because “every moment of life [we are] changing to a degree … the whole world.” We cannot escape from the influence we have to uplift or dishearten others. By proactively adopting a leadership mindset, we can ensure that we and those we lead are successful. The term “mindset” came into being in the early 1900s. It means a mental attitude or inclination. This attitude determines much of our behavior, and our behavior produces specific results. If we are the leaders of our lives, in our work, and in our relationships, the results we get matter very much. Are we getting the results or having the impact we want, or are we experiencing unwanted results and outcomes? By looking at the relationship between our mindset, our behavior, and our impact, we can integrate all three components in an effective and satisfying way. We can incorporate leadership qualities and engage in leadership behaviors that generate the results we really want. Your impact may be subtle or it may be profound; it may be small or it may be big; it may be obvious or not so obvious; it may be positive, neutral, or negative. We have a duty, perhaps a sacred one, to ourselves as well as others, as William George Jordan put it, “to refuse to live in an atmosphere that keeps us from living our best.” Observe your impact as it’s reflected back to you, observe your actions as you carry them out, and observe your mindset as it fills your thoughts and shapes your attitudes. With this model you have an ever-ready tool to use any time that you are not getting results you desire. That’s a tool worth keeping in your toolbox, wouldn’t you say?
Kristine Hodsdon is the Director of the RDH eVillage newsletter for dental hygiene professionals. She is also founder and president of Dental Influencers, LLC ( and facilitates the 90 Day Biz Success programs. Through her coaching and seminars, she helps individuals and organizations achieve desired results through strategic and tactical approaches to coping with, and improving from change while building personal satisfaction.