Many people say that one of their goals is happiness. However, as Eleanor Roosevelt points out, happiness is a by-product. In your business, if systems are working well, if the team is functioning effectively, if patients are compliant, and if financial resources are healthy, that leads to happiness. In other words, happiness is a by-product of things working well.
On the flip side—if those things are not working well, that leads to unhappiness. Leadership is the key factor to ensuring that your organization functions productively. And you, as a woman in dentistry, have special needs in your role as a leader. As a business owner and leader myself, I have made an effort to define factors that I consider essential to effective leadership. Here are 12 of them.
12 Factors for Effective Leadership
One: Know the skills.
Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned. Study these skills with experts who you value and trust and who know dentistry. Implement these skills. This will take effort and practice. Leadership will make the greatest of all differences in your success—or the lack thereof.
Two: Be a student.
Be a continuous student of your clinical skills. And also, be a continuous student of management and marketing. You wear numerous hats. To do the kind of work you want to do in the way you want to do it—you must have a well-managed business or happiness will escape you. In fact, the first step of good marketing is to have a well-managed business.
Network with other professionals from dentistry or other professions who are like minded. Do not surround yourself with doomsayers. Be with people who believe in possibilities and who believe in you. Separate from negative people. Their influence on you will be debilitating.
Four: Focus on the goal.
Focus on what you want to achieve—your purpose, your mission, and the vision of your ideal practice or business. Don’t let anyone take you off your path. It’s your path. You have the right to have your ideal vision. Make your vision of the ideal practice become a reality. Do not become satisfied with anything less.
Five: Find a mentor.
This confidante’ will be there for you through thick and thin. He/she will guide you, direct you, listen, and encourage. Note: I have always had a personal and business coach and would never function without these important people in my life. The investment in their wisdom is the best investment I have ever made.
Six: Be comfortable with yourself.
Don’t try to be anyone else. Honor your unique self and be on a path of continuous improvement. Be all you can be by nurturing your own strengths and talents. You have more gifts than you may realize. Your mentor/coach may see your gifts before you do. Listen. It is OK to have someone push you out of your comfort zone.
Seven: Make the hard choices.
You will have many opportunities. Choose the opportunities that are best for your organization and for you. Ask yourself, “If we do this, will it help us fulfill our ultimate mission?” The answer must be “yes.” Ask yourself, “If I do this, will it be the most productive thing I can do for the organization?” Again, the answer must be “yes.” This is your responsibility as a leader—no matter what your position.
Eight: Learn to delegate.
Study and apply the principles of delegation. You must be doing the things that only you can do and delegate all other things to qualified people.
Nine: Be the leader.
Dress well and take care of yourself. Be an example of excellence. You must be a leader of yourself before you can be a leader of your teammates and or your clients. Taking care of yourself sends a message that you care about your organization and others. When you take care of yourself, you perform better.
Ten: Communicate effectively (and often).
Learn and apply the skills of communication in all relationships. Communication skills include confrontation with care and problem-solving. Successful people and organizations do have problems. But, they know how to solve them. Therein is the difference maker. When something is not “right,” speak up. Don’t put your head in the sand and hope a problem will go away. It won’t. Address an issue with caring leadership skills that will move the relationship and the situation to a healthier place.
Eleven: Be trustworthy.
Do what you say you will do. People must trust you. Be accountable. Then and only then will the people who work with and for you also be accountable. You are the role model.
Twelve: Be positive.
You don’t need to be Pollyanna. But you need healthy positivity for a healthy business practice. Do not let negativity and pessimism become the culture of your organization. Nothing will destroy energy more quickly. Nothing will generate stress more profoundly. Create a Healthy Work Environment©—one where people’s individual strengths and talents are nurtured, communication is open and encouraged, and people are respected and honored. Your leadership will make the difference.
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