Oral Health Group

Leadership Lessons from the Road

September 11, 2018
by Amy Morgan

Why Bother – We are all NUCKIN’ FUTZ!


Dr. Wayne Pernell and I recently released our book, Leadership Lessons from The Road: Why Bother We are all Nuckin’ Futz (A #1 Best Seller on Amazon, which still cracks me up!) This was truly a labour of love for the both of us. The whole idea for the book came from all of the Pride Institute consultants sharing their stories of the biggest, most flaming leadership “oops” that they have encountered over the years, and more importantly, the positive solutions that turned the “oops” around (sung to the tune of Turn the Beat Around…).


I truly believe that honest, authentic leadership is needed now more than ever before! And, let’s face it – all you have to do is whisper the word leadership and many go running for the hills! Why is leadership such a bitter pill to swallow? Trust me, I teach this and live this, and I definitely struggle with leading my own team, clients, and don’t even ask me how I’m doing with my kids!

When I first came to work at Pride, I was young, brash (and unwrinkled), and because I’m from New York, I believed that leadership was fluffy, intangible, and kind of granola-eating California stuff. All of the empty gestures and slogans like, “There is no I in team” rang untrue to me. I mean, at the time, my favorite leadership statement was, “Do this or I’ll kill you.”

And then I met Dr. Pride. I will never forget our first deep conversation. I was chattering on about spreadsheets and my dismay at dental practice owners not understanding their numbers. At 6 feet 27 inches, he looked down on me from up above and said, “Little girl, (slightly politically incorrect but I would pay someone to call me little girl now), “it’s leadership, and it will always be leadership!”

And that’s how I began my lifelong journey of leadership lessons on the road. In coaching small business owners who struggle with these concepts even more than I did, I’ve seen the best of the best, and unfortunately, the worst of the worst. The worst includes running away from the concepts of leadership altogether (leaving teams with no direction at all) or thinking they have to behave like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, trying to always be right, all-knowing, all-mighty and powerful, (which leaves the team powerless, with no choice).

Neither is true nor effective. The challenge of leadership is how to truly communicate in a genuine way that connects with the hearts and minds of those who follow you. The inspiration behind the N.F. nuggets comes from my deep belief that we are ALL VULNERABLE when it comes to communication, influence and relationships. I have tremendous empathy and respect for any human being who is willing to put a lid on their own crazy baggage and wade into the shark infested waters of leadership. It truly takes courage, self-awareness, social awareness and a considerable amount of…what the hell?

Our leadership journey covers the key areas that make or break a culture. They are the building blocks that support continuous improvement and inspired results. These are the nuggets that will prevent the pain and itch of running a practice that is… ahem… NUCKIN’ FUTZ!

You have to start with vision! You and your team need an inspirational “why” before you ever follow through with the “how”. The “why” is your North Star, what gets you out of bed and motivated…. every single day. Statistics, tasks and systems can be viewed as drudgery without an inspirational, aspirational, perspirational horizon to drive towards.

Learn to communicate so that you can be heard! One of my favorite quotes is, “The difference between a vision and a hallucination is how many people see it”. Too often leaders are like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. All that the team can hear is, “Wha, wha, wha”. Behind every systems failure we have ever addressed, there is some form of a communication breakdown. This can include: under-communication, over-communication or miscommunication. Dentists who do not like conflict or confrontation fall prey to this all of the time. The fine art of assertive communication (this is what I see, this is what I need, this is how it aligns or doesn’t align to the vision) is what every team member deserves.

Your leadership style needs to match the needs of the individual. Every team member and every situation requires a different leadership style that delivers the correct blend of direction and support. The wisest leader will know how much direction is needed, how much support is needed, and that when you blend them correctly, you get “motion in your ocean.”

A leader is as strong as his/her followers. The goal in inspiring a motivated, self-directed culture is to create black and white swim lanes, so that every team member can rise to the highest level of their commitment and capability. The team will always judge you by the way you handle the weakest link. And although not everyone needs to be a superstar – a great leader uses everyone’s talents wisely! Grudging and formally compliant “worker bees” can be very impactful in running your systems and supporting your vision. What a ‘worker bee” needs is to be told precisely what to do (direction) and be acknowledged for doing things right, almost right or not completely wrong (support). Your enrolled employees are your self-directed team leaders (and they still need direction and support).

Dr. Pride used to say, “When I accepted my role as a leader, I began to sleep like a baby. Which means I would wake up every two hours, wet, crying for my mommy.” And honestly, leadership does require adult diaper moments! It takes courage and conviction to do the right things for the right reasons to impact a culture. The good news? When you do inspire success, you significantly impact the lives of all those you touch. Wayne and I hope to accomplish ‘One Small Leadership Step for Mankind’.

You can get all of the NF Nuggets at www.NuckinFutz.com. Hearing from two different leadership coaches’ perspectives will help to cement the concepts that are universal – no matter the personality, the methods, or the results. Believe me, WE HAVE SEEN IT ALL! You can get your copy of our book here: https://amzn.to/2MJ4U29.

About the Author
Amy Morgan’s passion and inspiration comes from knowing that every day at Pride Institute – with training and coaching solutions, she truly make a difference in the lives of dentists, team members and their patients. Since 1993, Amy has had the privilege of serving the dental community as part of the team at Pride Institute. She was hired and mentored by Dr. Jim Pride, moving up from a consultant/trainer to CEO in 1999. Since 2004, when Dr. Pride passed his legacy on to Amy and the ownership team, it has been her goal to honour his contributions and his core values, while implementing new models and methods for modern solutions for a modern world.

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