On Leading Others Effectively

January 17, 2019 Allison Watts DDS

Once you want to be a leader and you know yourself well enough, you’re ready to move on to helping others effectively. We have already taken a look at the first two parts of Dr. Rich Green’s leadership definition:

“A leader is a person…

Willing and Able

To influence behavior;

Their OWN FIRST

Then others

To a preferred future.”

-Rich Green, DDS

Leading Others

Building on our willingness and ability to influence behavior (our own first), now we will talk about leading others. It is by leading ourselves well that we “earn the right” and have the highest capacity to lead others.

I’m going to use the four essential areas I discussed in the previous blog as a framework for discussing our leadership of others.

Let me start by saying that we can train someone to assist us or do a great job greeting our patients, or to do stellar financial arrangements, etc. But when we hire, what we really want to look for is someone who has similar values and is inspired by our vision and purpose.

If we are clear about our own values, vision, and purpose/mission, which means we have done our own work to get clear, we will know if our prospective employees are a good fit by asking questions.

If we already have employees and are in transition, meaning we are changing our practice and/or doing work to get more clear on our values (what the practice is about and where we’re headed), we have an opportunity to be in constant conversation with those around us.

The people around us – in this case our team, specialists, lab technicians, and patients – want to know what we believe in and what we stand for. People are hungry for connection on that level.  

Influencing Others

Now let’s look at the four areas I discussed previously and how they help us in our ability to influence others:

1. Our competency and skills.

What we are doing and how we are doing it models for our team what we expect and what we are about. When our team feels competent and skilled, they feel confident and pleased about the quality of their work.

Especially in a high level practice, taking our team to CE and taking the time to work with them on their technical skills as well as communication skills is vital to their success. Most of us know this and probably do this pretty well already.

2. Knowing how we are wired helps us understand how others are wired.

The patterns, beliefs, and behaviors are not the same, but knowing that we have all been programmed and that this is part of the human condition helps us have compassion and a deeper understanding of how people tick.

Remember, most of this programming we were either born with or was “installed” from 0-7. In some way, even if it doesn’t make sense, we all do what we do in order to feel safe, loved, competent, and a sense of belonging. Knowing this gives us compassion for why people do what they do. 

3. Emotions

Being able to be with our own emotions allows others to be with theirs. As we model this and help our team learn it, they will increase their capacity to be with their own emotions and those of others.

Empathy is one of the most important skills to have as a healthcare provider. We have the opportunity to be the leader of this in our practice and in our life. When we work with humans, we work with their emotions and experiences (whether we like it or not).

4. Knowing and owning our truth.

This is an empowered and empowering place to stand. When we own and are clear about our truth, our desires, what we stand for, and what we are about, we can lovingly set boundaries and make clear decisions.

This also helps us honor others as they stand for what they believe. Once we are clear about these things for ourselves, we have an opportunity to share them with our team so that we are all moving toward the same preferred future, which we’ll talk about in the next blog.

Stay tuned …  

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Allison Watts DDS

Allison graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1995 and practices dentistry part time in Midland, Texas at the practice she started from scratch after she graduated from dental school. Allison is committed to high quality, relationship-based comprehensive care and her favorite subject is leadership, especially self-leadership. She is the president and founder of Transformational Practices, where she works with dentists to become their personal and professional best. As a lifelong learner and as part of the visiting faculty here at Pankey, she loves learning as well as teaching. Her favorite thing is witnessing and creating a-ha moments for people and feels the best rewards are the positive impact and ripple effects that come from improving one’s leadership skills and confidence level. She is a certified coach and a leader in the work of the Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, as well as a certified John Maxwell Coach.

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Be the Kind of Leader You Want to Be

December 21, 2018 Allison Watts DDS

This is a continuation of a series of blogs exploring what it takes to become the leader you want to be. It’s all about breaking down Dr. Rich Green’s brilliant definition of a leader:

“A leader is a person…

Willing and Able

To influence behavior;

Their OWN FIRST

Then others

To a preferred future.”

-Rich Green, DDS

Know Thyself

In the previous blog, we looked at willingness and ability to influence behavior. The next piece of Dr. Green’s definition is “Their Own First.” Our ability to influence others starts with our ability to influence ourselves.

Just like our patients, we often “know” what we should do and even how to do it, but then we don’t do what we know we should. So, how do we influence our own behavior intentionally?

This is sometimes the hardest part. I believe it starts with “know thyself.” Dr. Pankey placed “know thyself” at the top of his Cross of Dentistry for a reason. I have observed (and experienced) that in general, dentists focus most of our attention and efforts on knowing our work and applying our knowledge.

Here at Pankey, we also focus on knowing our patients. But very few dentists, or humans for that matter, focus on really knowing ourselves—what matters to us, why it matters to us, why we do what we do, and what’s truly creating our results.

If we put attention and effort into knowing and growing ourselves first, our ability to lead others is exponentially improved. Here are the areas I believe are imperative to this:

Essential Concepts

1. Our competency and skill level is of course important. We do need to know what we’re doing.

Depending on our business model, it’s important that we are competent in these areas: clinical skills, how to run a successful business, and communication and relationship-building. We should continue to grow in each of these areas.

2. A basic understanding of how we are wired is crucial because this is where much of our behavior comes from. Each of us is a blank canvas from age 0-7. We are programmed during those years. We learn survival skills and form beliefs that shape our model of the world.

It is very helpful to understand how this shapes our world and how it drives our behavior. We can become aware of and change our programming with work and practice.

3. The ability to be with our emotions (and those of others) is also of utmost importance. As humans we have the ability to let emotions move through us. Not only that, it is vital and healthy to do so. Emotions have useful information in them as well.

4. The fourth area I’ll call ‘knowing your truth.’ This is the connection to your heart and soul. If we grow our clarity and trust in this and our worthiness of having what we desire, this will take us further than anything else.

What do you believe in your core? What matters most to you? What’s your purpose? What do you desire?

I hope this blog has convinced you that it is a worthy, worthwhile, and noble cause to spend time getting to know yourself better. Only by knowing ourselves can we really know others at the highest level. Then it is our honor and privilege to be able to influence them, which is what we will talk about in my next post …

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Allison Watts DDS

Allison graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1995 and practices dentistry part time in Midland, Texas at the practice she started from scratch after she graduated from dental school. Allison is committed to high quality, relationship-based comprehensive care and her favorite subject is leadership, especially self-leadership. She is the president and founder of Transformational Practices, where she works with dentists to become their personal and professional best. As a lifelong learner and as part of the visiting faculty here at Pankey, she loves learning as well as teaching. Her favorite thing is witnessing and creating a-ha moments for people and feels the best rewards are the positive impact and ripple effects that come from improving one’s leadership skills and confidence level. She is a certified coach and a leader in the work of the Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, as well as a certified John Maxwell Coach.

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Willing and Able to Influence Behavior

December 13, 2018 Allison Watts DDS

I have heard many dentists say in one way or another that they are not leaders or don’t want to be. It feels to many of us like a big responsibility. Some would rather abdicate this responsibility as leaders in the dental practice (or life) because it can be hard.

Leadership & Growth

My favorite definition of a leader is from Dr. Rich Green:

“A leader is a person…

Willing and Able

To influence behavior;

Their OWN FIRST

Then others

To a preferred future.”

I started my own practice from scratch, owned it for 20 years, recently sold it, and now work in the practice part time. As the primary leader for so many years and now as a co-leader for 4, I know how hard it is.

We have a lot of other urgent and/or important things pulling for our time and attention. Even though growing and practicing our leadership is vitally important, it is seldom urgent, so it’s easy to put seemingly urgent things ahead of it.

But I would assert that leadership is ultimately the single most important tool we have to help us achieve success and happiness.

Willing and Able

As Rich says in his definition, a leader is a person willing and able to influence behavior.

The definition of willing is:

1. Ready, eager, or prepared to do something.

2. Given or done readily.

The definition of able is:

1. Having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something.

2. Having considerable skill, proficiency, or intelligence.

Let’s be honest, these definitions are a little bit daunting. Here’s the thing, leadership is a commitment that we “live into.” 

Feedback and Action

We learn leadership as we go. We will likely never feel 100% ready, eager, prepared, skilled, proficient, and intelligent at it. We shouldn’t constantly comparing ourselves against some ideal.

We must notice where we are and make strides toward where we want to be. We must also keep showing up, leading, and getting feedback about what’s working, what’s not, and where we had the impact we intended to have and where we didn’t.

It’s not as important what the feedback is as what we do with it. Many of us who were born, bred, and raised perfectionists have learned to focus mostly on the negative feedback. Then we beat ourselves up with it and defend or make excuses about why we did what we did.

Feedback can be really hard to hear … Part of being a great leader is learning to hear the feedback and looking to see what feels true and what doesn’t. We have to to see what created that result, even if it’s something we said and/or did (all without beating ourselves up).

And then, if there’s something that needs work, do the work to shift it so that things are better next time. We’ll be talking more about that in my next blog. Another part of being a great leader is to notice, acknowledge, and own even small improvements and to really celebrate when we (and others) do something well. So, are you willing and able to influence behavior? Even when it’s hard?

If we want to be intentional and impactful as leaders, it definitely takes willingness and effort to grow our ability. I have found that it is the most rewarding work we can possibly do!

We’re actually influencing all the time anyway, so wouldn’t it be wonderful to do so intentionally?

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About Author

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Allison Watts DDS

Allison graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1995 and practices dentistry part time in Midland, Texas at the practice she started from scratch after she graduated from dental school. Allison is committed to high quality, relationship-based comprehensive care and her favorite subject is leadership, especially self-leadership. She is the president and founder of Transformational Practices, where she works with dentists to become their personal and professional best. As a lifelong learner and as part of the visiting faculty here at Pankey, she loves learning as well as teaching. Her favorite thing is witnessing and creating a-ha moments for people and feels the best rewards are the positive impact and ripple effects that come from improving one’s leadership skills and confidence level. She is a certified coach and a leader in the work of the Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, as well as a certified John Maxwell Coach.

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