North Texas Dentistry Volume 9 Issue 4 2019 ISSUE 4 DE - Page 16

practice leadership If I Don’t Lead, Then What? by Joel Small, DDS and Edwin McDonald, DDS A leader brings the “weather” to the organization that he or she leads, be it large or small. The weather can range from stormy and turbulent to sunny and full of the sun’s energy. A weather that supports healthy, growing lives requires a balance of rain, sun, and the seasonal varia- tions that allow for a complete cycle of life. What kind of weather do we find when the leader is not leading? A PRACTICE IN SURVIVAL MODE For all forms of life to be healthy, including human beings, they need the right mix of elements to breathe life into them. Effec- tive, purpose-driven leadership cannot exist without these essential ingredients that create a healthy environment. The first sign that a leader is not leading is that the individuals under their leadership are not thriving; in fact, they are struggling to survive. The most significant leadership competency that cor- relates with high levels of organizational performance is a strong people skill. Those skills pertain more to the leader being personable, approachable, and a good listener rather than pos- sessing a dynamic personality. All people need to be heard and understood, and equally important, need a positive and safe environment that encourages open and direct dialogue. When leadership is deficient, their need to be heard and to have a voice is absent. Their relationship with the leader is superficial and lacks the depth that people need to commit to the organi- zation’s purpose. Their low-level motivation and commitment reflect an organizational culture that is transactional rather than transformational in nature. SYMPTOMS: high staff turnover, internal conflict, low pro- ductivity LACK OF CLARITY, PURPOSE, AND VISION Great leaders bring clarity, establish values, and articulate vision. There exists a commonly shared belief and understand- ing about where the leader is taking the organization. The team understands the organizational values, and therefore, they know how to make decisions in alignment with the shared pur- pose. This creates an entire team of decision makers and energy producers that are working towards the same goal. In this ideal scenario, the doctor is no longer the “bottle neck” through which 16 NORTH TEXAS DENTISTRY | all decisions emanate. This allows the overall team to develop their capabilities and capacity to be more productive. When clarity, values, and vision are missing, there is greater confusion, more hesitation to act, and more internal conflict. This inevitably results in organizational stagnation. Stagnant teams find themselves spending excessive energy maintaining the status quo, rather than taking necessary measures and cal- culated risks designed to promote practice growth. This descrip- tion defines an enterprise that is stuck and performing below its capability. SYMPTOMS: low productivity, wasted energy, confusion, conflict EXHAUSTION By definition, a team comes together to accomplish something as a group that they could not do by themselves. Each team member has a specific role and responsibility. An effective leader orchestrates the function of the overall team as well as each individual. These leaders communicate the importance of each position and what success looks like. In short, they are great people developers and intentionally empower those that they lead. It is not uncommon, as coaches, to encounter doctors that are seeking a better work/life balance. They are exhausted by the persistent conflict between family and practice; feeling caught between the constant pull of the practice on their purse strings and the opposing pull of their family on their heart strings. Invariably, these doctors have failed to develop their team’s capacity to lessen the doctor’s load. They have not provided their staff with the training, resources, and authority to manage and oversee practice systems. Sadly, these doctors have done a great disservice to themselves and their staff. They are exhausted, and their staff has lost an opportunity to experience growth. Even worse, the doctor finds that he or she is spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on low-level tasks rather than value-producing tasks that greatly benefit the prac- tice, tasks that only they can accomplish. SYMPTOMS: lack of energy, failure to achieve high-priority goals, undeveloped staff, strained inter-personal relationships, reduced production