The Four Universal Promises of Leadership – Part 5

August 5, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In previous parts of this series, we looked at leadership, the commitment it requires, and the first three of four universal promises of leadership. The first promise was the promise to set a clear direction and create meaningful work for the organization you lead. The second was the promise to engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance. The third was the promise to ensure your strategies, systems and processes facilitate focus and execution.

Now we will look at promise four.

The Fourth Universal Promise

You will lead effectively by maintaining relationships of trust to achieve and sustain results.

Why would someone want to follow you? The answer is trust. In order to keep the first three promises of leadership, you must value the priceless currency of relationships built upon trust.

Trust is one of the most difficult concepts for sociologists to describe and define. Two exceptional thought leaders on trust in our culture said this:

Steven M. R. Covey: “Trust lives at the intersection of character and competence.”

Rachel Botsman: “Trust is a confident relationship with the unknown.”

Becoming Trustworthy

Because trust builds confidence and frees up hearts and minds to commit, it forms the basis for a thriving practice culture and draws out the inherent potential of your team (their individual talents, energy and passion). Traditionally, I focused my energy on building trust.

Rachel Botsman proposed that in creating a culture built on trust, we would be served better by focusing on becoming more trustworthy. Rachel’s idea hit me hard. It was spot on. Trust demands the best that we have to offer. Perhaps, it demands all that we have to offer. It is the secret sauce of why people decide to surrender themselves to the great vision you offer.

If you take one thing away from this, take away a renewed devotion to becoming a more trustworthy person. You will likely find that your aspirational identity shows up with more clarity, courage, conviction and compassion.

And So, Back to Clarity

People follow leaders they trust by surrendering to a compelling vision that engages their hearts and minds. Others will trust your vision if you are clear, courageous, have conviction, and are compassionate. These are the building blocks of a shared (collective) style of operation and leadership in which each individual in the organization contributes, benefits and leads. This is relevant to your patients (clients) as well as the team you lead.

As I end this series, I leave you with my belief that developing and elevating your leadership competencies is the best investment you can make. Effective leaders who deliver on the four universal promises of leadership create strong cultures that outperform average cultures by multiples, not percentages, in every measurable dimension over time.

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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The Four Universal Promises of Leadership – Part 4

July 27, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In previous parts of this series, we looked at a definition of leadership, the commitment it requires, and the first two of four universal promises of leadership. The first promise was the promise to set a clear direction and create meaningful work for the organization you lead. The second was the promise to engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance. Now we will look at promise three.

The Third Universal Promise

You will ensure your strategies, systems and processes facilitate focus and execution.

Selecting the strategies, systems and processes that serve your vision best is a leadership function. Execution of the systems is a management function involving the entire team, including you, the dentist.

Strategies are designed to fit your destination. Strategies, systems and processes efficiently channel actions into results. The ongoing results create feedback for refining your focus, systems and processes. This promise of leadership is about keeping the team (and yourself) focused on execution and minimizing distractions.

Focus Versus Distractions

Practice owners are flooded with messages that distract them. The entire dental industry targets them with promotions for things, services, and behaviors. They are told many versions of what they should buy and should do in order to succeed. Other distractions come in the form of emotions and self-doubt that become barriers to living out their dreams. Those “should” messages, emotions and self-doubt serve as continuous distractions from everything that is important.

Leaders sometimes break the third universal promise of leadership by:

  • Not providing or managing their critical resources.
  • Allowing distractions that diminish their focus or lead to inaction.
  • Ineffective or inadequate processes.
  • Becoming addicted to the process rather than results.

Here are two examples:

  • One of those distracting messages leads you to buy the latest and greatest technology. It uses up your capital resources, and you then hesitate to purchase the fundamental instruments, equipment and materials that your organization needs to perform at its best. If you were to live this all over again, you would have made a different decision. If you are clear that your strategies and budget are designed to get you to your destination, you can discipline yourself to refrain from such impulse purchases in the future.
  • You read an article or talk to a colleague who is trying the latest hottest strategy for practice building. It is in conflict with everything that you have said that you believe in and hope for. You wonder if you are doing the right thing. Your doubt leads to team confusion and disillusion. This is getting you nowhere. Now you find you have to go back and clarify your vision, mission and values to reset your strategies, systems and processes as aligned steppingstones to your destination. With determination and hope, you can and will refocus and get back on track!

Keep Hope Alive

Breaking promises is exhausting and energy stealing. It builds resentment and degrades hope.

Our organizational brand and our effectiveness as a leader are about the promises that we make and keeping them. I firmly believe the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive…the hope that we are finding our way to a better place. That place is the destination we call our vision!

Until next week and Part 5

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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The Four Universal Promises of Leadership – Part 3

July 9, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In previous parts of this series we looked at leadership, the self-commitment it requires, and the first of four universal promises of leadership. The first was the promise to set a clear direction and create meaningful work for the organization you lead.

The Second Universal Promise

You will engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.

Engaging your team members is about the connection with each of them individually and also as a team. Getting to know and understand each person requires intelligent and thoughtful communication. This communication includes asking insightful questions, listening with all of your senses to the language used and the emotions expressed and experienced. This will expand your understanding and communicate significance to each individual in a very powerful way. 

You have heard this expression: ”Getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.” One of the most important functions of a leader is to evaluate the gifts and talents of each person so that you can put them to work in the best position on the team. Facilitating each individual’s understanding of how their work contributes to reaching our destination provides motivation, clarity, meaning, and accountability. ”Coaching as a Leadership Style” focuses much of our work as a leader on the development of the gifts and talents of the individuals in our organization. When this happens, we have really begun to bring out their inherent potential…the gifts, talents, discretionary energy, and passion of the individuals we lead.

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Ray McElroy speaks on the topic of “To Boldly Go – Stepping Out of the Ordinary to the Extraordinary.” Ray’s background includes spending six seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, and the Chicago Bears. A native of Chicago and a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Ray also served as Team Chaplain for the Chicago Bears Organization from 2008-2013.

McElroy says, “Ordinary people with average talent can accomplish extraordinary things.” He urges us to “see where you want to be and work on getting there.” He asks us to ponder these questions:

  • What do you know that nobody else knows? 
  • What do you see that nobody else sees? 
  • What can you do that nobody else can do or will do? 
  • We need a team around us in the valley … Who’s your crew? 

I ask you to ponder these questions:

  • Who on the team knows things no one else knows?
  • Who on the team sees things no one else sees?
  • Who can and will do something no one else can and will do?
  • How can you best position team members to contribute their best?
  • What do you need to do to better lead your crew?

From Compliance to Commitment

When the organizational culture supports people in such a way that they thrive, strive to contribute, and are valued for their contributions, there is a shift from compliance to commitment to the cause, resulting in dramatic increases in individual and organizational performance. It is a 1 + 1 = 3 phenomenon. 

From Values to Accountability

Our deeply held values become our standard of accountability, both individually and collectively. In Part 2 of this series, I provided the example of performing an After Action Review (AAR) in a morning huddle. When we debrief on previous behavior as a team, everyone is invited to reflect on whether we could have performed better to support our foundational values. One of the foundational values of how we work as a team in my practice is to encourage team members to discern and discuss failures to support our agreed upon values. Anyone is welcome to point out violations. We then look at behavior that violated our values and discuss what would have been better behavior. It provides clarity for everyone.  

A primary goal of leadership is helping each individual and the team, as a whole, become clear on the essential vision, mission and values of the organization. If we confuse, we lose. Clarity wins and is a primary driver of performance. 

Until next week and Part 4

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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The Four Universal Promises of Leadership - Part 1

June 8, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Warren Bennis, in his book, On Becoming A Leader, says, ”Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult…First and foremost, find out what it is that you are all about, and be that.”

In other words, leadership development is about developing yourself. As appealing as that sounds, it is one of the most resisted journeys that any human being can attempt to make. One of the most extraordinary writers, thinkers, and influencers I have ever read is Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl. He said, ”When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Changing ourselves can appear to be a daunting task, but it is the work required to become a great leader.

Self-Deployment

My favorite definition of leadership says that Leadership is about the deployment of self into circumstances. But which of your selves is deployed? Is it your best self that shows up with clarity, conviction, courage, and compassion as the essential qualities of a great leader? Or is it some other less powerful version of you? The performance of the organization that you lead will be in large part determined by how you show up to the most important people that you have been given the gift of leading. That organization ranges from your family, to your community, as well as the business organization that you lead.

Four Universal Promises

When you decided to become a healthcare professional, you decided to become a leader, whether you knew it or not. That role as a leader comes with four promises that are universal. We will examine those promises in this blog series, and you will get the opportunity to determine how well you are keeping them. Your future and the future of the organization you lead depends upon it.

  1. You promise you will set the right direction and create meaningful work.
  2. You promise you will engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.
  3. You promise you will ensure that your strategies, systems and processes facilitate focus and execution.
  4. You promise you will lead effectively by maintaining relationships of trust to achieve and sustain results.

Until next week…

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About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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