Oral Health Group

Leading with heart; not your heart on your sleeve

January 28, 2012
by ken

from Mouthing OffMouthing Off | Blog of the American Student Dental Association by Kim Schneider

Mike Staver, CEO, The Staver Group, is the keynote speaker at ASDA’s Annual Session, Feb. 29-March 3. His presentation “Leadership Isn’t For Cowards” will teach dental students about the power of commitment; motivating others; and three things every leader should avoid. Here’s a sneak peek at what he has to say…

Great leadership doesn’t require lofty positions. Instead, it’s about the degree to which you are willing to influence those around you. And the key to great influence has to do with identifying and leading in alignment with your values. As dental students you are clear about the legal and ethical requirements as a health care provider but this is a completely different way of viewing your leadership. You can be the most ethical, legal dentist in the country but if you have not clearly considered what your core values are and how those impact the treatment of staff, the way you set up your office and your overall way of doing business then you will be a very ethical, legal dentist with a failing practice.

As you read this you probably know fellow students, professors and others that are smart, articulate and on the fast track but can’t get along with people or that don’t know how to communicate. I am reminded of a dentist in North Carolina that was a good practitioner but couldn’t keep staff and had a hard time building his practice. The primary reason for his challenges had nothing to do with his skill, knowledge or ability to follow the ethical and legal requirements of the profession. His challenge was that his style was so abrasive and so challenging that it just wasn’t worth it to his staff and to most patients after the first visit.  Finishing dental school will be a huge accomplishment and one that has the potential to provide for you and your family for years to come. The key to differentiating yourself in the market where you settle will not only be THAT you practice great dentistry but how you do it.

The good news is it isn’t complicated. You are already demonstrating what your values are in the way you treat people, the way you communicate with others, how generous you are, how you humble you are or aren’t, the way you study, treat fellow students and have a heart for service. While those are just a few examples, you get the idea. As student leaders now and community, practice and leaders in your field later you will find that your greatest influence a leader will not come from your skillsets when someone is in the operatory but more from your skillsets before you begin the work. Your leadership will be manifested in how you treat staff, what your patients hear you say and how you bring to your practice an energy that could only come from you.

The bottom line is pretty straightforward: every time a patient leaves your office or an employee drives home one thing is certain, they will talk about you. The question for you to consider is, what do you want them to say? What are the words you want people to use to describe you, in the office, in the community, at the board, etc. Leadership is about influencing the stories people tell about you. The way you do that is to make certain that you are clear about what’s important. Obviously you want them to say you are professional, ethical, and do great work. What other words do you want people to use? What is the story you want told? Now is the  time. You are working hard to become a member of a highly esteemed profession. Make yourself focus on the things that you value. Align your behaviors with those things and your will reap the benefits.

Here are the steps:

Answer the following questions:

1. What is the story you want people to tell about you?

2. What are the values you most respect in those you admire?

3. What can you do right now to start aligning the way you lead with the story you want to be told about your leadership?