I’ve never really been one for those inspirational quotes from the great and the good, but one quote that has really stuck with me over the years is from the film director Woody Allen, who said: ‘70% of success in life is showing up.’ In other words, if you’re prepared to put yourself forward and try things, good things generally follow.
Of course, if you flip that quote on its head, it says that those people who fail, do so because they don’t step up to the plate. And this is something I see in many of the dental practices I visit, practices who want to attract new patients, but don’t want to invest any money or resources in doing so, practices that want to drive up referrals but fail to ask for them or hand out referral cards, practices that want to convert more treatment plans into treatments, but shy away from patient finance or taking the time to talk the patient through the plan in layman’s terms. Everywhere you look there are practices who are well aware of the theory, but who, for some reason, are unable to commit to putting it into practise.
Lack of leadership
So why is this?
Well, for me, it all comes down to leadership… or rather, the lack of it. There often seems to be a strange paradox occurring in many practices where, on one side, the principal dentist/business owner wants to achieve more and get more from his/her team and on the other, a team with ideas on how this can be achieved and the willingness to get things going. Yet, for some reason, there is reluctance on behalf of the principal to commit, invest or trust in the team to deliver the desired results. As such, the leader of the business becomes a big part of the problem, not the solution.
I often hear comments along the lines of: ‘We know what needs to be done, but [insert name of principal here] won’t listen or let us get on and do it!’
It’s a very frustrating and unproductive way of working for all those involved.
The difference between management and leadership
The key to breaking out of this situation lies in understanding the fundamental difference between leadership and management. Leadership is about creating the big picture, setting a direction and then creating a culture and an environment that provides the means, the space and the guidance for people to perform to their best potential. Management is about the day-to-day implementation of the plan and the delivery of a set of agreed objectives. Very often, this involves managing upwards to the principal as well as to the rest of the team. And that’s where the problem lies. So many principals refuse to be ‘managed’ for the good of the business and persist in ploughing their own furrow and ignoring the positive offers of help from their team.
So ask yourself, when it comes to the business development and growth of your practice, are you a blocker or an enabler? Are you leading from the front, creating an environment where people can ‘show up’ and make a positive impact on the business, or are you inadvertently limiting the potential of your team and your practice?
Food for thought?