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7 Key Leadership Traits for a Successful Dental Practice

The following is a guest post by Ken Runkle, America’s Profitability Expert™ of Paragon Management, Inc.. If you are interested in guest posting for Dental Heroes, please sign up here.

Great leadership fuels great dental practices.

In well over two decades of helping surviving practices become thriving practices, one common theme has emerged. There is a proven and direct relationship between leadership and success. Better leaders produce better dental practices.

The leadership traits represented below reveal the “best practices” of what I consider to be great dental leaders. Although each doctor possesses his or her own unique personality, operational approach, and leadership style; these key leadership traits are common threads among all types of dental leaders. With that in mind, I would highly encourage you to evaluate your life and practice leadership regularly based on these seven key leadership traits.

As you consistently measure your leadership barometer, score yourself one point for every trait you possess. You may not be where you want to be right now, but the key questions and growth accelerators will help you build as a road map to improve your leadership skills.

1. Leaders Have a Dream

Leaders see a clear picture of the practice they area seeking to create. This portrait can be articulated with simplicity, in one or two sentences, and includes specific goals and outcomes.

2. Leaders Possess a Passion

Leaders integrate their passion for their dream into every area of their life. They think about, talk about and promote the dream and vision all the time. Your family, friends, neighbors, staff, patients, and colleagues should feel your passion for the dream.

3. Leaders Design Strategy

A dream fueled by passion will never reach its destination without a clear strategy to get there. Leaders do not simply post a banner proclaiming their dream. Every announced dream is connected to a road map to get from point A to point B.

4. Leaders Measure Results

As Dwight Eisenhower often said, “Never expect what you’re not willing to inspect and respect.” Measuring results provides accountability to the dream, evaluation of the strategy and responsibility among staff members. Real numbers and real results make the dream real.

5. Leaders Continually Learn

Leaders commit to continually growth and learning in their personal and professional lives. Their practices are marked by the concept of the Japanese word “Kaizen” which points to long-term continual improvement. Leaders work hard to be better this year than they were last year.

6. Leaders Walk in Integrity

Leaders preach what they practice and practice what they preach. Special care is taken personally and professionally to say the right thing and do the right thing as a model and example for your staff and a good representation of your practice.

7. Leaders Make Hard Decisions

The movie Gettysburg recounts the amazing courage of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Vastly outnumbered and void of ammunition, Chamberlain is faced with the great challenge of defending the strategic position on Little Round Top. In a moment of great courage, he makes a hard decision. “Bayonets!” he commands, as his weary soldiers charge down the hill toward a massive number of Confederate soldiers. Outnumbered and outgunned, Chamberlain’s troops capture their enemies and win the day. General Lee would later say that this decision by Chamberlain turned the battle and the war.

Leaders carry the burden of making the tough calls. Your response to hard decisions will be reflected in your practice success.

Evaluate Yourself

If you gave yourself one point for each leadership trait you currently possess, how what was your score? While even great leaders struggle in certain areas, they are always seeking grow and become better leaders. Which of these seven key leadership traits do you need to focus on today, this week, this month, this year? What is your specific plan to raise your leadership in those areas?

Developing your dream practice requires a certain level of leadership. It is possible to get there. Leaders are not born, but shaped through hard work and consistent pursuit. It has been my great privilege over the years to see leaders raise their leadership to the levels needed to create their dream practice. As you develop these seven key leadership traits, you are moving closer to the leader you need to be. Do not shrink from the challenge of becoming a better leader every day. Start now….your dream practice is waiting.

Go for it!

Final Thoughts

Think about your score above. Which key leadership traits will you work to strengthen in 2011?

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