I have spent a good portion of my professional life studying and presenting on the topic of leadership. It is an important, complex topic, as you can tell by the number of books that are published on the subject every year. My thinking on leadership continues to evolve.
For instance, it used to be when I was asked what I did I would say I was a CEO or that I was in continuing education. Now I identify myself as a growth specialist – someone who helps people and businesses grow by creating alignment.
We all need to think about what leadership means to us individually, because even though there are some people who seem to be born leaders – people with a natural gift for inspiring others and making them want to follow their vision – when you think about it, we are all leaders. As I say, it is a complex subject and I can't possibly cover everything I would like to say on it in this space, but here is a brief overview of why it matters.
If you own a dental practice, leadership is a huge part of your job. As I have said many times, great dentistry is not a solo venture. If you are going to be a great dentist you must surround yourself with a great team and give them a clearly defined vision to rally around. You have to be a growth specialist too, and you do that by aligning all interests. It's necessary to get your team, interdisciplinary partners and lab aligned around your standards and vision. You also need to get your clinical excellence and value excellence aligned to provide the best patient experience. This is leadership at a high level.
In the best practices leadership takes place at every level. People who recognize their value roles and what that means in respect to their contribution to the practice are leaders too. They take ownership for their corner of the business that makes them leaders in their own right. Anyone who is a top-notch concierge, hygienist or assistant is by definition a leader.
As I wrote in a previous article, “How to Get the Universe on Your Side”, at a fundamental personal level we are all leaders of our own lives. We all have possibilities within us, and we all have opportunities to make those possibilities into realities. Anyone who recognizes that and takes action to make the right things happen is taking leadership in their life.
Ultimately my definition of a leader is someone who shows the way to something greater than what you are experiencing today; someone who welcomes disturbances for the opportunities they represent and who accepts responsibility for their results, good or bad. A leader is someone who takes people where they ordinarily wouldn't think to go. Leaders won't settle for "good" when "great" is possible. Sometimes this person is a boss, but other times they are a colleague or mentor. In the end the greatest leader in your life will always be you. The important thing is to recognize this, accept the responsibility and always be aware of your next phase of growth.