Dentistry leadership Tag Archive

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Moving to the Right – Your Dental Journey

I got a day off today and I sat down and thought about how I’ve ‘reinvented’ myself many times over the past 15 years. Whether it’s as a dental educator or as a practicing dentist.These days when I speak it’s not so much about clinical techniques, but more about your journey. We go through 3 phases in dentistry – general dentistry, advanced dentistry, and emotional dentistry.

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Moving to the Right

Let me begin by saying there is nothing wrong in staying in the general dentistry phase. One can make a tremendous living and have great satisfaction there. But the truth is that way too many of us are stuck there and have desires and goals to be much more than that.

If you complain about your practice, dental insurance, your team members, your finances, your patients, your dentistry, etc – then you need to have a plan of action to advance yourself. You are begging for something different.

I call it ‘Moving to the Right’

Each of us are going to have a different definition of general dentistry, advanced dentistry, and emotional dentistry. It should constantly evolve as we grow. For example, I once considered a single dental implant emotional dentistry – I now consider it the overlap of general dentistry and advanced dentistry (the lightning bolt).

So how do you move to the right?

  • You invest in leadership. Leadership is about how you communicate with patients, team members, and others around you. Leadership is about leading by example.
  • You invest in technology. Technology allows you greater diagnostic and presentation skills to help your patients say yes to the best.
  • You invest in a winning team. Without a great support team who are aligned in your vision (leadership) and great with technology, it will be very difficult to move to the right. Allow and encourage your team members to move to the right in their careers as well.
  • You commit to lifelong education. What services are you able to provide your patients? Are they the same services that you’ve had in your tool belt for the last several years? No wonder you aren’t growing and aren’t moving to the right to achieve greater satisfaction.
    So make today the day you commit to moving to the right.

What’s the first step?

  • Define what it would look like for you to love going to work everyday.
  • Define what it would look like to be happy in your personal life.
  • Define what it would look like to stop stressing about finances.

Until you define the target you can’t have something to shoot for.

This year I defined getting more time with my kids as taking a week off every 6 weeks and having a family vacation. We are achieving that.

I have defined professional satisfaction as working 3 days a week after dropping my kids to school in the morning. It is further defined by making 2017 the year that I no longer do fillings and single crowns.

I have defined stopping financial stress by having a concrete plan of action to create financial freedom by age 55. What is the number? What do I have to save/invest each month to achieve that number by age 55? Take that number and make it a monthly bill that gets paid automatically.

Dentistry can afford us so many unique opportunities. Take advantage. You are in control of your own destiny!

t-bone-podcast

T-Bone Speaks is a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve clinical, financial, and personal balance. You’ll love the entertaining demeanor and down to earth approach to dentistry.

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Clinical Excellence = Business Success? My story.

I worry about dental students, new graduates, and those in their early years of practice. Are they as naïve nowadays as was I a few decades ago?  I hope not, but chances are that many will have difficulty finding their way in the first few years (perhaps much longer) for lack of business knowhow.  I wonder how other dentists with extensive practice experience, looking back, would rate their preparedness for the real world of dentistry upon graduation.

When I was going to dental school, academic and clinical demands precluded even the slightest thought about the business of dentistry. It was only when graduation was approaching that I started to think about my future, but in kind of an indirect fashion, in the context of what clinical situation was I going to place myself in – associateship, partnership, or solo practice?  My perspective was 100% clinical, which is no big surprise when you consider that no family member, relative, or personal acquaintance owned a business, dental or otherwise.  The business blind spot had in no way been addressed in dental school. In four years of training not a single course, instructor or guest speaker had dealt with how to set up the business structure or run a dental practice as a business entity. I had filled the void by becoming a passionate clinical perfectionist, but I was unprepared for the world of business challenges that I was about to enter.

The only business advice I got in my first four years of practice was from an accountant. No offense to accountants. They do have an important role to play. However, for someone who had a complete void of business knowledge, an accountant could never fill that void adequately. There were matters of leadership, management, acquiring and training staff, personal development, etc., all of which were critically important in building a successful practice.  I simply didn’t know to look for help, and my only hope defaulted to doing perfect dentistry and praying that alone would lead to success. Didn’t happen. I learned the hard way that clinical excellence did not equal business success, except of course for the very few dental savants out there who were so good that movie stars, the wealthy, and dentists themselves, flocked to them for care and clinical training.

Looking back it seems to me that any one of the following could have provided a healthier, more certain, and shorter path to practice success.

  1. Having business in my family tree.
  2. Taking business, management, and leadership courses pre-dental.
  3. Dental school bringing in practicing dentists (preferably non-faculty) to discuss the business of dentistry.
  4. Seeking out a dentist business mentor while in dental school.
  5. Seeking out a dentist business mentor in the early years after dental school and beyond.
  6. Undertaking personal development training early in my career, learning more about human nature, and becoming a more powerful person so I could be a more powerful dentist leader.
  7. Getting in front of world class leaders.
  8. Reading many books throughout the early years about leadership, management, marketing, advertising, innovation, personal development, etc.

Recently, I met a newly graduated dentist who related that she learned nothing about the business of dentistry during dental school. The guest speakers were all non-dentists with a personal agenda to sell the graduating students a service or a product, and she felt completely confused about how to weigh the practice options in front of her. Guess the same problems do persist today.

What was your experience in the years following graduation? Smooth sailing or rough waters? How prepared were you for the business of dentistry? What were your biggest setbacks and how could they have been avoided. What would you recommend to dentists to help them navigate their early years? What can we do as a profession to help those new to our profession?

I am particularly interested in pursuing the idea of approaching dental schools with a view to pair up experienced dentists as mentors for those students that are interested in having a coach as they begin their careers.

Dentistry has been very kind to me and many others. However today, according to a recent ADA article, dental students graduate with student loans averaging over $200,000, the same individuals who will step out into a business world that many are ill prepared for.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to support these young colleagues as they start their careers in our chosen profession?

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Living and Leading with Intention

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When we choose our intentions and are mindful, we achieve clarity of purpose. We are clear on what matters most to us, on what we value.

Do you have a written vision statement or intention for:

  • Your practice?
  • Your role in your practice?
  • Your relationship with your staff?
  • Your relationships with your clients, suppliers, investors, colleagues?
  • Your life? Your career? Yourself?
  • Your relationship with your family? Your role in your family?
  • Your marriage, education, livelihood, well-being, success?
  • Your vacation, the home or car you hope to buy, a conversation, an activity, a sales call, an acquisition, or a meeting?

We can set vision statements and choose our intentions and purpose for any aspect of our being. You can intend:

  • Fulfilling my dreams.
  • Helping my staff fulfill their dreams.
  • How I market, how I sell.
  • How I train, how I evaluate performance.
  • How I lead
  • The example I wish to set
  • The culture I wish to create
  • Being of highest and best service to my clients, staff, investors, suppliers, children, parents, and humanity.
  • Being richly rewarded
  •  Making a difference
  • Being a loving partner to my spouse.
  • Being a guide and mentor to my children or my direct reports.
  • Being open, receptive, and kind in a conversation
  • Using interactions as a source of learning about myself and others.

And then, before you say or do anything, ask yourself, “What can I say or do in this moment to BE my highest vision of myself?” Before you make a phone call or respond to a comment, before you join a meeting or have a conversation, or before you open the door when you come home from work, exhale and inhale deeply. Remind yourself of your intention, your vision and wonder “What can I say or do that moves me another step toward creating my highest vision of me?”

With practice, taking the breath becomes natural for you. With practice, reminding yourself of your intention and asking yourself how you can think and behave in a manner consistent with your intention also becomes natural for you. With practice, you are able to think these powerful thoughts just as quickly and naturally as your old thoughts.

When we choose our intentions and are mindful, we achieve clarity of purpose. We are clear on what matters most to us, on what we value. We stop “re-acting” to colleagues, clients, family members, staff, and situations and start creating what we wish to create. Our thoughts, strategies, goals, plans, actions, and reactions are focused on what is truly significant. We become inspired. We achieve significant results. We transform our relationships, our families, and our organizations.

How could you live with intention? How could you lead with intention?

For more on information on conscious, meaningful living and leading with purpose:

mary_lore_book

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Coaching Through Advocacy

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This topic is motivated by some polarized political conversations underway in the US, although our topic itself is not political. Even though many of our readers outside the US might have had little interest in US politics, they no doubt were aware of some of these conversations. Over the last few months in the US, we have seen polarized debates leading up to the presidential elections in November, stalemate conversations leading up to the fiscal cliff in December, and a horrific tragedy in Sandy Hook that has rekindled an ideological conversation on gun rights/control. What is common about these conversations is that many people have entrenched positions and they know they are right.

These conversations remind me of many business issues I have faced in my career where technically competent individuals have strongly held views about a major business issue at hand and the less technically competent executive or CEO has to make the call. The technical nature of the issue might be understanding a piece of machinery that might need to be purchased, or familiarity with a vendor that might need to be selected, or a technology or financial issue that requires technical understanding. In many of these business issues there are entrenched positions with ardent supporters that advocate each of those positions. In most of those cases the CEO is technically least competent. Yet, the CEO has to make the call.

This month’s topic is a tool, called Coaching through Advocacy, that the CEO (or the decision making executive) can use in these situations. The idea of this tool is to force the ardent advocate to live in the other world. When they do, they will find that the other world is not as dark as they thought it to be. The CEO identifies an outspoken, articulate, ardent supporter from each of two polarized schools of thought. Let’s call these individuals Alice and Bob. Alice is tasked with making a 10 minute speech, in front of a large audience, advocating Bob’s position with gusto and fervor, and solely in favor of that position.

Likewise, Bob is tasked with making a 10 minute speech advocating Alice’s position. The CEO convenes a somber and ceremonial meeting to which all concerned are invited. Ceremony demands that the CEO occupy a central seat flanked on either side by all the influencers of the decision. Make sure that the influencers are NOT physically partitioned by their respective position on the issue. All other invitees, including all of the people that are affected by the decision are asked to sit in the peanut-gallery as observers. The CEO then explains the tasks assigned to Alice and Bob, and lays out the ground rules of interaction:

  • Alice and Bob speak for 10 minutes advocating the side assigned to each and during those 10 minutes no questions will be entertained
  • At the end of the 20 minutes the panel of influencers flanking the CEO may ask questions of either Alice or Bob. During this period, Alice and Bob must continue to play the role assigned to them.
  • At the end of the questioning, Alice and Bob will be relieved of their advocacy roles and may join the influencers in a collective conversation.

What are the advantages of this process? First of all, Alice and Bob are forced to not only understand the other person’s point of view, but are forced to communicate it to their cohorts who might be more willing to listen to them. During the question and answer period, the other influencers can force Alice and Bob to fill out the arguments that they might have conveniently omitted. All of this makes everybody more comfortable with imagining a world in which their feared choice ends up winning.

They realize that that world is not so bad after all. In fact, they begin to appreciate some of the good things about that world. That feared world becomes more palatable. Most importantly, those that are more in the middle, who heretofore had abstained from taking sides, begin to form an opinion. Their voice is often the most reasoned voice for the CEO to hear.

The advantage of a business environment – compared to the political environment of Washington – is that in a business the CEO can make a unilateral decision. However, the CEO needs to understand and appreciate the nuanced technical issues. Coaching through Advocacy provides a process to do just that. In a democratic environment like political conversations, this process might not work. But, even there, imagine if the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader – John Boehner and Harry Reid – had to each give a nationally televised speech for 10 minutes arguing the other side!

That would certainly be a riot.

*Artwork created for LogiStyle by David Rappoccio

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Firing Strategy…

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Do you have employees you’re not proud of? Then deal with it!

The “how” of firing is typically not the problem. It’s the “who” and “when” that gets in the way. Business decision makers will tell me about a problem employee and how he/she is a poison to the operation and not living up to minimum performance or behavior standards. They will remind me that they are in an “at-will” state and can fire anyone they want, whenever they want. My response is “OK, what’s stopping you? No, seriously just terminate. Montana is the only state that limits the “at-will” rights of a private, non-union employer, so go ahead.” Apparently the decision maker is taken aback when the HR guy doesn’t start screaming about morale or citing a violation of some regulation that will insure costly litigation. In fact, the numbers show the odds of an employer getting involved in a discrimination case over a firing are pretty slim. Last year EEOC handled 99,412 charges, dropped 67.9% and only filed 122 merit suits.

I can hear a decision maker’s rant on an employee’s poor behavior or read a bad performance evaluation and determine that this employee should be gone. It’s easy for me, or any outsider, because we are not emotionally involved. I did not hire this guy. My kids don’t go to school with this woman’s kids. I don’t go to church with this employee. I’m not going to have to explain the whereabouts of this employee to patients. The problem is not legal…it is emotional. Decision makers do not want to fire.

Firing is something all business decision makers should be good at, but not comfortable with. Good people know who the bad ones are. They know we know and expect us to do something about it. Firing for bad behavior or performance rewards good behavior and performance.

You can feel it. When I meet miserable, grumpy, disengaged employees I don’t blame them. I blame their bosses. I come away determined not to go back and thankful that I don’t have to work around those people every day.

Strategically the “who” is any employee who has fallen below minimum performance or behavior expectations. The “when” is as soon as possible. You may decide that you want to salvage and give the employee a reasonable chance to improve. Just don’t count on the problem to go away by  itself. You’ll know it’s time when your good employees and patients start leaving because they think you don’t care.

It’s not always about performance. The problem may be behavior. You do not have to wait until their behavior affects their performance. Adopt a behavior standard as part of your corporate culture.

Now, do not go back to work and start firing people today. I have a Master’s Degree in Employment Law and I have trained thousands of managers but I am NOT an attorney and do NOT give out legal advice. Part of your decision making process should be to review the situation and any documentation with HR and local legal counsel. You can contact me at HRHunterLott@gmail.com and check out my website PleaseSueMe.com.

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