Not long after entering practice, you realize the one skill you did not acquire in dental school: the ability to have difficult conversations, or what I sometimes call courageous conversations.
For the scope of this article, I am referring to the leadership hat you wear, or leave in the closet in your daily practice. These conversations often involve issues or behaviors related to staff, patients, associates or partners. I find the majority of dentists and physicians avoid these difficult moments by focusing on what they were trained for and enjoy. We wishfully hope “perhaps the issue will go away if I ignore it long enough”. Unfortunately, left unaddressed, issues often only get worse and impact both the morale and performance of the office.
Rather than leaving the office with a sense of satisfaction each night, you go home ruminating and often grinding your teeth over an issue you once again avoided. At this point, if you can not relate to which I am writing, consider yourself fortunate and you can put this article into the recycling bin. For those of you who exclaim “that’s me!” continue reading.
The following are some examples where courageous conversations are often required:
Have you avoided conversations for so long that you now call it normal? Often, the doctor’s tool box for coping is anger, frustration, or manipulation – or BETTER YET he/she passes it off to the office manager.
As leaders of the practice, a different skill set is required to address these issues. We are accustomed to completing procedures such as a crown, endodontics or surgery. With leadership and the development of people, it is an ongoing process that requires our continuing influence. We all recognize that patients refer patients and return to our office primarily because of the experience they encounter with our team.
The following are steps to get unstuck and short circuit the toxic producing situation.
Take the time to develop a process that brings you to a place that puts light on the situation in an objective manner; a process that brings about action and results in growth. Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses in your leadership style. Commit to growth in this area not unlike a continuing education course in cosmetics or surgery. Allow your brain to think objectively and analyze the various components – much like we approach a complex dental case. View moving forward and looking at your steps as win- win. We are doing no one any favors by ignoring these issues…everyone suffers.
Understanding and developing our leadership skills is one of the most underdeveloped skills in our tool box. It impacts every facet of our office from profitability to the enjoyment of our profession.
Below is a reading list to enhance your lifelong learning.
© 2017 Leadership by Design, LLC | Would you like to use this article on your blog or website? You can, as long as you include the following complete verbiage: “Dr. Jim Schroeder is the President and founder of Leadership by Design, Inc., a consulting firm that works with and teaches organizations and individuals how to bring personal and business strategies to life by focusing on people and relationships.
Dr. Jim Schroeder is the Founder of Leadership by Design. He has been writing about leadership and organizational growth for over 30 years.
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