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Leadership tips every dental office manager should know

Nov. 13, 2019
Leadership skills are very important for successful dental office managers. These ideas from Heather Colicchio will help you become the best leader that you can be.

As dental office managers, we think of ourselves as health-care professionals and facilitators of high-quality care. But we’re also something much more: we’re executives of a business.

I perused some of the top career coaching organizations, as well as spoke with executive and entrepreneurial experts, about what it takes to be the best possible leader. Here are some of the top tips regarding what you should bring to your dental office manager role to bring it to its full leadership potential. 

Use your emotional IQ 

Bluesteps.com states that to be a leader, you need to rely heavily on your emotional intelligence. This means listening to your emotions and recognizing the emotions of your team and patients in order to be able to use good judgement. Make self-reflection a part of your everyday activities. Doing this affects your mood and gives you leverage, which enables you to better connect with everyone in your office. 

Celebrate success 

According to experts at Insperity, you should “have fun and celebrate success.” This can mean anything from recognizing small goals in the office to big personal achievements of staff members in their personal lives, such as the assistant running her first 5k or the receptionist’s son being awarded a scholarship. Sometimes verbal recognition is all that you need. It makes people feel valued. 

Understand your leadership style 

VeryWellMind has an online leadership-style quiz to determine what your personal methods tend to be. When you understand how your methods come across to others, you can learn ways to lead in a more efficient and motivating manner. 

Lead by example 

Entrepreneur.com states that the number one thing that leaders should do is lead by showing and doing, not just tell the team how things should be done. Whether it’s in the way you groom, speak to the staff, or answer the phone, remember that the team looks to you to set the tone of the office. 

Be accessible 

Having an “ask anyone anytime approach” helps the team relate to you better. They’ll feel like you’re empathetic to their needs and will be more likely to come to you when they have opinions, concerns, or need help. Being accessible does not mean you’re not leading; it just means you’re there to help the team succeed. 

Have no regrets 

According to Forbes.com, Virgin founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson says that the best advice he ever received was “have no regrets.” He says every decision is one that he stands behind, and it’s all founded on what he was taught as a child. (Thanks, Mom!) 

Work from a to-do list 

Harvard Business Review recommends accomplishing three things before noon. Why? Because “the team ahead at halftime is more likely to win the game.” Make the morning your most productive part of the day so that you don’t get bogged down and discouraged after the lunch break (or worse, miss lunch altogether.) 

Look at the whole picture 

Can’t see the forest for the trees? Try not to focus on specific problems and issues to the point that they weigh you down and you can’t recognize the overall entity of the practice. 

Do not get out of the trenches 

“Now that you are a manager, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do the ‘dirty work’ that helped you succeed in the first place,” states Entrepeneur.com. The hard work ethic that got you to this position is what you’ll need to succeed while you’re there. Never ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. Teams who see leaders roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty know that their manager is someone committed to the success of the group, and not someone who just bosses people around. 

Know your people 

When you understand what makes your team tick, you’ll be able to relate to their goals, career focus, and why they see themselves as part of your practice instead of the practice around the corner. Getting to know them as people and relating to their hobbies, interests, family life, and more, can give you insight on how to help them be their best in the workplace. 

Remember where you came from 

Don’t forget your roots. Before you were a dental office manager, you were likely filling the shoes of another role in the dental practice, or maybe you didn’t come from the dental field at all. Remember what it was like to be in those roles, and how you felt about your own manager. What did you like? What did you not like? Never forget what things were like before you became the leader, and this will help you lead more effectively.

Heather Colicchio is the founder and president of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), the nation’s largest professional organization for dental office managers and practice administrators. AADOM teaches business management skills for the dental practice. Heather is passionate about small businesses and entrepreneurship. She is excited by vision and building and seeing ideas come to life, especially when these ideas empower others. One of her strengths is connecting people to achieve their goals. She appreciates quality collaboration and thrives working with a talented team of professionals in her organization and in the dental industry. Learn more about AADOM and Colicchio’s efforts and advocacy for dental management professionals at dentalmanagers.com.