Beyond the standard

ough times both require and produce outstanding leaders. Winston Churchill in WWII and Nelson Mandela overseeing the birth of a post-apartheid South Africa are two examples. The essence of great leadership, from the aforementioned to John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, has been the ability to distil and communicate the message necessary to get people to follow. Watching the film Hunger recently, it was evident that leadership can even drive people to follow a leader to their deaths in the pursuit of a cause.

Sadly, watching the performance of Taoiseach Brian Cowen on the first Late Late Show I was left with the impression that we are bereft of any leadership, let alone great leadership.

In the lead
In business we must, as the dentist, lead our teams to follow our vision of what we want our practice to be. This is especially so now; in the face of the challenge of a collapsing economy we need to set a vision and communicate this to our team, encouraging them to persevere in the face of the inevitable uncertainties.

As dentists we also have a duty of care to the public at large. We, as leading members of the community, need to set a standard for the nation’s oral health. We should not be swayed by politicians, civil servants or HSE executives. We must set a bench-mark below which we will not practise.

Setting our agenda
We must not allow the media to set the agenda on dentists’ fee structure. If we accept this, we are effectively relegating ourselves to the position of oral technicians; but we are suppliers of oral healthcare and should be proud to be recognised as such.

I believe our association will provide a strong lead on this issue. Indeed, lately I have been very encouraged by the IDA’s response to proposals by An Bord Snip and the media’s obsession with dental healthcare costs.

However, we are only as strong as our weakest link and need to support each other and our association in order to preserve the standards of dentistry we have fostered to date in Ireland.

Today’s Dental comes to town
Another encouraging sign has been the foresight of the organising committee for next May’s IDA annual scientific conference in attracting Howard Farran as the keynote speaker.

I urge everyone to attend, and with their teams if possible. While not everyone will be in agreement with his methods or business principles, no one can fail to be energised, stimulated, educated or entertained by him.

Howard runs a large practice in Phoenix, Arizona, called Today’s Dental. He runs it along the lines of his father’s restaurant chain, according to strict business principles. He is also responsible for setting up the internet site Dentaltown, so that ‘no dentist need ever practise alone’.

I guarantee you will leave the presentation with sore sides – you can’t help but be wholly entertained by Howard’s wit and irreverence.       

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