Leadership Roles of the Dentist Entrepreneur

James V. Anderson, DMD
James V. Anderson, DMD, Founder and CEO
eAssist Dental Solutions

“You have achieved greatness, not when you can see it in yourself, but when you can clearly see it inside everyone else on your team.” – Rod P. Worley

Every member of your team has the ability for greatness within them. Being an effective leader means taking the time and focus necessary to bring it to the foreground.

Take a moment to reflect on what is fundamental for you, what is at your core.
Before you can ask yourself what kind of leader you are, you must define your leadership style. Next, ask yourself who you consider to be a great leader. After you define the kind of leader you are, compare it to the person(s) you would follow as a leader. Does it match up?

When speaking to fellow dentists, many have said they never thought of themselves as leaders, only clinicians and employers. They expect employees to do their jobs as they are supposed to, not cause any drama, and take care of patients. If they don’t they are dismissed, and leadership doesn’t come into the picture – so they think.

The enormous cost to find, recruit, train and onboard unfamiliar staff is often too much for many practices to absorb on a regular basis. Let’s face it, when you are short-staffed, things just don’t get done. Considering the average time a dental assistant stays in a practice is about two years, this can be quite a hefty sum over the life of a practice.  This does not take into consideration the emotional impact on the morale of remaining staff and patients, who start to wonder “what is going on over there?”

In dental practices, employees’ work is usually defined by their job descriptions. For many dentists this is just not enough. I have often heard, “I wish my dental assistant (or other employee) would think outside the box and could complete tasks without being told. I have to tell the front office to work the AR – shouldn’t they do that anyway?” One dentist remarked, “My employees show up on auto pilot – they do their work but don’t give an ounce of extra unless there is a bonus involved.”

Would being a better leader of your practice make a difference? In her book “Multipliers”, Liz Wiseman says: Multipliers are leaders that make everyone smarter by expecting their people to achieve extraordinary results. People will get smarter and more capable around Multipliers.

Multipliers vs. Diminishers
Multipliers: These leaders are genius makers and bring out the intelligence in others. They build collective viral intelligence in organizations.
Diminishers: These leaders are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.

To improve my leadership skills, I took the test (see the link below) and scored a 28.
10 – 20: Probably not an Accidental Diminisher
21 – 30: Likely an Accidental Diminisher
31 – 50: Most certainly an Accidental Diminisher

Is it possible that despite good intentions you’ve been accidentally diminishing the people on your team?

According to the test results, I am likely an Accidental Diminisher. This was a shock for me, as what I thought was a great leadership skill was in fact holding people back and stifling their abilities. 

According to Wiseman, the good news for the Accidental Diminisher is that simply raising your awareness will put you on the path to becoming a Multiplier. You can refer to the specified sections of the book (Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter) to discover ways to adjust your leadership practices and get vastly more out of your team’s intelligence and capability.

Multipliers, meanwhile, counteract this effect by explicitly giving people permission to think, speak, and act with reason. They generate an intensity that demands high-level work from the team, but they also have a high tolerance for mistakes and understand the importance of learning along the way. So, they create mental spaces in which people can flourish. 

As effective leaders, we never stop learning and improving. We want our teams to also keep learning and improving their skills and knowledge. Giving them the opportunity to learn, share their knowledge, and build leadership skills helps all to succeed. 

If you would like additional help, email Dr. Anderson at james.anderson@eassist.me