dental teamAs I have pointed out many times, including in my last article, dental teams need leadership and direction to be truly effective. But when we are talking about leadership in a dental practice, we are talking about a specific kind of leadership—one that encourages dental team members to take ownership for the practice's goals and to be accountable to themselves. The only kind of leadership that makes sense in a dental practice is the kind that inspires everyone on the dental team to become leaders themselves.

Part of that is because of the nature of your role in the day-to-day functioning of the practice. So much of what goes on, in terms of what the dental team is doing, happens literally behind your back while you are busy with patients. For the most part, you can't be providing on-the-spot guidance, so you have to trust the people on your dental team to perform up to expectations without supervision.

You Need a Dental Team of Leaders

And most people do. If you want to go beyond the usual expectations for dental team performance, however, you need something more. You need a team of leaders.

The reality is most people become comfortable in a specific role, and comfortable with their own level of confidence within that role. This leads to a compartmentalized dental team, where everyone is competent in their own particular function, but not that interested in pursuing larger goals beyond their own boundaries.

In a dental team of leaders, by contrast, the big picture vision is always the guiding principle, and individual comfort zones don't apply. What's more—and this is probably the most defining characteristic of a truly great dental team—everyone communicates proactively.

You don't wait for someone to ask you what you know about a certain patient—if you have something to share about that patient that could be of value to someone else on the team, you share it. If there is something you can do to help someone else on the team, you offer that help. You develop a "court sense" for what is happening around you and how you can best contribute to an ideal outcome. You think like a leader, no matter who you are, which means thinking beyond your own assigned tasks, for the greater good of everyone.

So how do you, as a dentist, develop a team like this? It's really not that hard. It's all about taking them with you on your education journey so they see the same opportunities you do and they understand how to respond to those opportunities. This is why we at Spear are developing more team centered offerings.

Considering how important an aligned team is to your success, it is a rather small investment to, for instance, have a team meeting with a specific learning objective every couple of weeks. If you are a member of the Digital Suite you can find multiple videos designed for team learning to get you going.

Once every six months or so have an all-day in-house team building session. And four days a year—either all at once or split up over two two-day events—take your team with you on an educational retreat so they can get to bond away from the practice and experience first-hand the kind of energizing enthusiasm you feel when you attend a program that changes your way of thinking.

Remember it is a journey you are on together and it takes time. But this is how you keep the passion alive. It's how you get people out of their compartmentalized thinking and focused on the ultimate goal: providing the best care possible for all your patients. It's how you build a team of leaders.

If you find topics like this helpful, check out Imtiaz Manji's practice management courses available to you through our Course Library. Not yet a member of Digital Suite? Click here to learn more.


Commenter's Profile Image Natalie Jackson
October 10th, 2014
I couldn't agree more. I'll be in Scottsdale next week with one of my hygienists that I've identified as the most improved in leadership this year. I'm all about empowering my team members who also share my vision and mission. We are both enthusiastic about the upcoming trip.