While the concept of leadership is universally recognized and covered in-depth in classical pieces of literature like The Prince and The Art of War, what does it mean to be a leader in dental management?
Running a dental office is a difficult task, but is this task similar to the traditional leadership position? Which traits and features of leadership overlap and are there some which are more important than others? Lastly, which skills should one hone in order to become a better dental management leader?
These are just some of the questions that we’ll try to answer. With that in mind and without further ado, here are several tips on becoming a great leader in dental management and improving your dental practice along the way.
Boosting Your Organizational Abilities
Your employees will benefit from your great organizational abilities. You see, dental management requires you to handle all the administrative tasks and allow your staff members to focus on their own job.
This will significantly affect their confidence in your leadership abilities, seeing as how they will have all the necessary conditions, supplies, and tools to provide top-notch dental service to their patients. Remember that while a dentist may have a gift for handling logistical issues, this isn’t always the case. First of all, this isn’t in their job description, and second, this is never included in their training. This is why they need a dental manager.
If there are any financial issues, you’re the one who’s expected to resolve them, either by getting a short-term business loan or by other means.
Now, this is a bit paradoxical, seeing as how, while these things run well, no one gives you any credit for it. If things start going downhill, everyone will recognize that it’s your fault, and you’ll get all the blame. Still, you’re not doing this for praise or to be perceived as a great leader. Self-sacrifice and dedication (especially when no one is there to watch) are key markings of a great leader.
Develop Your Core Skills
Regardless of how charismatic you are, if people notice that you’re not doing your job, your reputation within the organization will rapidly fall. This is why you need to learn more about dental management and make your best effort to grow as a professional within this field. This means setting aside more time and resources for courses, examination of learning materials, etc.
Becoming a dental office manager is not an easy task to begin with. It is your job to deal with patients (mainly about the financial arrangements behind their treatment), vendors, insurance companies, and other relevant parties. In other words, from the very start, it’s clear that in order to be a good dental manager, you need to be a good negotiator and a people person.
To make a long story short, a dental manager is a professional problem-solver. However, since these problems are usually quite specific and niche-relevant, it is essential that you develop skills that will help you with your problem-solving. Sure, being resourceful is an excellent trait for a dental manager, but, on its own, it’s not enough. In this field, you can’t just wing it, especially since so much rests on your shoulders.
In other words, it takes a lot to become a great dental manager but making a decision to engage in this field is only a first step on a journey of a thousand miles.
Rely on Others
You can’t do it all on your own, which is why it’s so important that you learn how to delegate tasks appropriately. You need to rely on others, and by giving them more responsibility and autonomy, you’ll also show that you have confidence in them.
Sometimes, you will recognize an employee’s potential to be much more, which is why you need to train and groom them to assume this position in the future. Keep in mind that while in a dental clinic, some roles are determined by formal education (dentist, dental assistant, etc.). However, there’s quite a bit of work for clerks and administrative workers.
Motivation is a key issue that you need to resolve. After all, as a leader, you need to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and that everyone knows why their job is important. While putting things into perspective may sound simple, you would be surprised at just how much of a ruckus this can cause. Make sure to listen closely to your staff and address any issues they may have as soon as they spawn.
Focus on Workplace Culture and Environment
Making a positive workplace culture is another thing you will have to do as a dental management leader. So, how does one start to establish a workplace culture? First of all, they need to put their vision and mission on paper. While some may dismiss this step, it is crucial for both clarity and transparency of your management goals.
Next, you need to make sure that these plans are executed properly. This requires careful monitoring of your staff, with occasional assistance. Also, keep in mind that you want your office to be harassment-free. Therefore, training, seminars, and your own watchful eye can make all the difference in the world.
Your relationship with clients is also an important item on this list. While the customer is always right, keep in mind that protecting your team in a scenario where their integrity is endangered is incredibly important. This is one of the rare opportunities where you can be seen as a charismatic leader (in a traditional sense).
The problem with being a dental management leader is the fact that you’ll do most of the work behind closed doors. This means that when logistical and infrastructural issues fail, everyone will blame you, while when you do your job right, no one will be aware of all the work you’re doing. So, why would one do this? Well, someone has to. It’s virtually impossible to run a successful dental clinic without a skilled manager. Also, the job is challenging, fulfilling, and the pay is great. For all those who are still interested, now you know how.
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