Dentist leadership in managed group practices

Dentists must be effective leaders of their practices

Dental Practice Leader

The difference between success and failure in generating and maintaining a successful managed group practice is leadership — period. That’s the bottom line. The mechanics, structures, processes, accountabilities, strategies, operating agreements, reporting system, finance management, marketing — all the parts to develop and run a managed group are clearly important, but without strong leadership, none of these elements succeed.

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Leadership generates a condition that promotes success. Leadership produces a context in which actions produce accomplishment. It impacts people’s willingness to be responsible. Leadership creates commitment and intention in people. It is the ‘dark matter’ of the company universe that enables all the elements to thrive. Leadership produces the energy needed for achievement. It reduces self-centeredness and allows teams to manifest. Without leadership nothing really works.

In my experience, I’ve trained and coached hundreds of leaders in not only dentistry, but also senior executives in many different industries. I can assert with nearly absolute certainty that there are five primary areas that constitute a great leader. If any one of these is missing, then a leader will not be able to powerfully lead.

If you are a leader in your group, ask yourself how successful you are in these five areas:

Authenticity—No pretense, no hypocrisy, no fabrications, no exaggerations. Just open, honest, candid, and truthful communications. No speaking to validate their claims. Offer complete transparency, unconcerned about impressing people or trying to look good.

Integrity — Without integrity a leader is a windbag. Leaders engender trust, loyalty, and commitment. By integrity I mean “honoring themselves as their word.” Their word is their vow. Their word is their bond. Their word is the determinant of what and who they are. Their actions and behavior correlate to their promises. They deliver on their commitments. They give their word and keep it. When they mess up, they clean it up.

Responsibility — Effective leaders hold themselves as cause in the matter. They do not blame. They do not fault. They realize that “the buck stops here.” They are rock solid that any and all problems, issues, or concerns are at some level their responsibility. They do not point fingers except at themselves. They do not gossip. They do not make excuses or give reasons. They do not justify, defend, explain, or rationalize.

Committed to others’ success more than their own— Many dentists who proclaim leadership worry about the success of others. As leaders they hold the welfare, economic good, and well being of others above their own.

Committed to making a true and lasting difference— Some dentist leaders are in it to cash out. This will ultimately cause those around them to distrust and question their motives. Real leaders have a driving intention to accomplish a true vision, operate consistent with a true purpose, and achieve a real mission.

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As a leader, how would you rate yourself in these domains? Be honest. More importantly, how would those around you rate you? Although there are many good consultants and advisors that can guide you to establish strategies, structures, and processes for managed group practice, what these consultants and advisors cannot do, and what needs to be powerfully present, is be a good leader for you.

Dr. Marc Cooper is president and founder of The Mastery Company. He is one of the presenters at SUMMIT 2014, held May 1-3 in Scottsdale, AZ, which this year emphasizes managed group practice.

Dr. Cooper’s 30 years of consulting and coaching dental clients includes solo private practice, small partnered practice, managed group practice, retail corporate enterprises, dental academies, and dental associations. He has also worked with senior executives and boards in the dental industry, insurance companies, clearing houses, biotechnical companies, professional associations, and disease management companies.

1. Courage by Gus Lee
2. Built to Last by Richard Porras and Jim Collins
3. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
4. Being a Leader Program by Michael Jensen and Werner Erhard

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